Tens of thousands swarm Boston in rallies

A so-called "free speech" rally in Boston by far right groups was dwarfed by some 40,000 counter protesters who turned up in an outpouring of anti-racist sentiment. There was no major incident. There were 27 arrests, mostly for assault and battery ag
A so-called "free speech" rally in Boston by far right groups was dwarfed by some 40,000 counter protesters who turned up in an outpouring of anti-racist sentiment. There was no major incident. There were 27 arrests, mostly for assault and battery against the police, and disorderly conduct.PHOTO: NYTIMES

BOSTON • Tens of thousands of anti-racism demonstrators flooded the streets of Boston last Saturday, dwarfing a gathering of white nationalists in the city and triggering scuffles with police but avoiding the serious violence that marred a similar event a week earlier in Virginia.

A so-called "free speech" rally by far right groups had been scheduled to run until 2pm, but a half hour before that police escorted its participants - whose numbers appeared to be in the dozens - to safety past a throng of anti-racism protesters.

Officials estimated a turnout of 40,000 demonstrators.

The authorities said there were 27 arrests, mostly for assault and battery against the police, and disorderly conduct.

Aerial photos showed counter- protesters filling one of Boston's main streets for several blocks, in a huge outpouring of anti-racist sentiment in this strongly Democratic north-eastern city.

While Boston saw no repeat of the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, isolated scuffles between police and protesters prompted US President Donald Trump to weigh in, with a tweet intoning against the "many anti-police agitators in Boston".

But as protesters began departing central Boston without major incident later on Saturday, he followed up with a more positive tone.

"I want to applaud the many protesters in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate," he tweeted. "Our country will soon come together as one!"

Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka, who is Jewish, tweeted last Saturday night: "It was beautiful to see thousands of people across the USA come together today to peacefully denounce bigotry, racism & anti-Semitism.

"We must continue to come together, united as Americans!"

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2017, with the headline 'Tens of thousands swarm Boston in rallies'. Print Edition | Subscribe