Counterprotest of 40K Upstages ‘Free Speech Rally' in Boston

An estimated 40,000 people turned out Saturday to counterprotest a 'free speech rally' on the Boston Common.

The counterprotesters marched through the city to the Common, where many gathered near a bandstand abandoned earlier by conservatives who had planned to deliver a series of speeches. Police vans later escorted the conservatives out of the area, and angry counterprotesters scuffled with armed officers trying to maintain order.

Members of the Black Lives Matter movement later protested on the Common, where a Confederate flag was burned and protesters pounded on the sides of a police vehicle. At least one person was arrested.

In total, 33 arrests were made on charges ranging from disorderly conduct, disturbing a public assembly, resisting arrest, and assault and battery. Police also confiscated three ballistic vests and one weapon.

Of those arrested, police said 29 people were from Massachusetts and ranged from age 19 to 40.

"We had some kids block the street and it got a little confrontational but they were given every opportunity to move. As you seen, we had a little pushing and shoving there," said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans.

Arraignments for those arrested will take place over the course of Tuesdayand Wednesday in Boston Municipal Court. All have made bail.

Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said in a statement, "As with almost any large crowd, a small number of people went beyond the bounds of safe behavior, and we'll assess their cases fairly on their individual merits when they're brought before the court. I want to thank everyone who made Saturday's demonstrations against hatred peaceful, successful, and safe."

No serious injuries or property damage was reported, police said, adding that the dueling demonstrations all went according to their plan.

Evans praised his officers, state police and other members of law enforcement who all helped maintain order.

"There was a lot of pushing and shoving there, but that's the way they were trained. And I thought they did the best they could," Evans said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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