With an overcast sky, metal barricades closed off Saturday’s “Rally for the Republic” from its counter protesters, leaving a wide space of land and law enforcement in between. Resist Marxism, a group formed in response to the hostility towards free speech according to their website, organized the rally.
Hosted in Boston Common’s Parkman Bandstand, the self-proclaimed anti-Marxists advocated for free speech. On the other side, several organizations, including Refuse Fascism, American Civil Liberties Union, and Fight Supremacy, banded together to chant and denounce Resist Marxism’s rally-goers and speakers.
Resist Marxism requested a permit for the rally, but the City of Boston rejected their application due to a 5k race scheduled the same day.
“You need to fight speech with speech, not stop it from happening,” Pittsfield First Amendment Attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo said. “We’re labeling people Nazis that are not Nazis. I wouldn’t want to be called a communist. I think what’s happening with Antifa and on college campuses is very bad.”
Del Gallo sued Mayor Walsh and the city of Boston in August for allegedly violating his first amendment rights by preventing him from speaking at the “Free Speech Rally.” Del Gallo spoke at Saturday’s “Rally for the Republic.”
He was sporting a Bernie Sanders shirt at the Rally. “The main reason I’m wearing it is I want the audience to know that I’m progressive and to the left and that I’m a democratic socialist, but I am also in support the first amendment,” he said.
John Medlar, a “Rally for the Republic” supporter, said he felt silenced by the counter protesters.
“Free speech means that people will be able to say what they want without being shut down,” he said.
Debbie Cutler, a Boston citizen, said she attended the rally in August as a counter protester. However, she said this rally was more hostile due to Resist Marxism’s speakers, such as Kyle Chapman and Joey Gibson.
“[The Resist Marxists] are calling us communists. They came here to Boston, a liberal city and state, to bring hate mongers here,” she said. “They’re loving every second.”
Standing in the anti-Fascist crowd, John Dyen of Boston said the current administration has empowered the Resist Marxism group “by using rhetoric that shows real fascism.”
“I just want neo-nazis and fascists and white supremacists to see there are so many more of us than them,” Dyen said.
Anti-Marxists and those supporting the “Rally for the Republic” said fascism does not exist in America.
“Antifa calls people who call for free speech Nazis,” Medlar said. “If there were skinheads marching down the streets trying to round people up and kill them, you’re damn right I’d meet their aggression with aggression. But I meet words with words.”
Rallying with the Resist Marxism group, Justin O’Donnell found himself amongst a group of people that share very little with him — besides the right to uphold freedom of speech.
O’Donnell, the New Hampshire second congressional district candidate, said he knew what Kyle Chapman had to say, and disagrees. O’Donnell said he supports immigration, gay rights and open borders, whereas Chapman does not.
“But I support his right to get up there and say it,” O’Donnell said. “People want to listen to him and he has people who believe in what he has to say…and that’s what I’m here to support, him having that right.”
After more than two hours of rallying and protesting, the Resist Marxist group marched to the State House, and ended their walk at the parking garage across the street from the Boston Municipal Court Department courthouse.
Marchers disassembled quietly and the Boston Common returned to its previous state with the ghost skeleton of barricades left standing.
Bay State Herald staff reporters Chris Van Buskirk, Dylan Rossiter, Gaby Leonel, Kyle Bray, Melissa Gauger, Rana Saifi and Daniel Peden all contributed to this story.