Boston Police are bracing for violence to break out at Saturday’s “free speech” rally and have taken precautionary measures to prevent it from devolving into a clash between extremists and demonstrators on both sides of the ideological spectrum. To enhance public safety, police have put up road blockades and gone so far as to ban food vendors from the historic Boston Common, where the demonstration is expected to take place, as they hope to prevent a repeat of the Charlottesville attack last weekend according to Reuters.
“Some 500 police officers will be on the streets around the popular tourist destination. They are planning to close some roadways to vehicles, mindful of the car attacks that killed a woman in Charlottesville and 13 in an attack in Barcelona on Thursday.
“We all know the tragedy that happened in Barcelona. That only makes us more vigilant,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, who was the department’s second-in-command during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.”
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the city would ban demonstrators from carrying anything that could be used as a weapon, adding that violence would not be tolerated.
“We are going to respect their right to free speech. In return, they have to respect the safety of our city,” Walsh said. “If anything gets out of hand, we are going to shut it down.”
The flash point will likely arrive when a “Fight White Supremacy” march set to begin in the historically black Roxbury neighborhood collides with the demonstrators on the Commons Saturday afternoon.
“Our job is to make sure that as the peace rally enters into Boston Common that the folks that come in there feel safe, that we don’t have an incident that happened like last week in Virginia,” Walsh said.
Organizers of the free speech event have denounced the type of violence that took place at the rally in Charlottesville. Speakers at Saturday’s event include Kyle Chapman, a California activist who was arrested at a Berkeley rally earlier this year, and Joe Biggs, formerly of Infowars. Mayor Walsh is warning anyone who doesn’t plan on taking part in the demonstration on the Common to avoid the area, according to CBS Boston.
“They say that interacting with these groups just gives them a platform to spread their message of hate,” said Walsh. “They recommend that people should not confront these rallies. So we’re urging everyone to stay away from the Common.”
Somehow, we doubt the “everyone” will heed the mayor’s advice.