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Boston Braces for Protests             08/19 10:13

   Conservative activists and leftist counterprotesters prepared for a 
confrontation on Boston Common that could draw thousands a week after a 
demonstration in Virginia turned deadly.

   BOSTON (AP) -- Conservative activists and leftist counterprotesters prepared 
for a confrontation on Boston Common that could draw thousands a week after a 
demonstration in Virginia turned deadly.

   Police Commissioner William Evans said Friday that 500 officers --- some in 
uniform, others undercover --- would be deployed to keep the two groups apart 
on Saturday. Boston's Democratic mayor, Marty Walsh, and Massachusetts' 
Republican governor, Charlie Baker, both warned that extremist unrest wouldn't 
be tolerated in this city famed as the cradle of American liberty.

   Organizers of the midday event, billed as a "Free Speech Rally," have 
publicly distanced themselves from the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others 
who fomented violence in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. A woman was killed at that 
Unite the Right rally, and scores of others were injured, when a car plowed 
into counterdemonstrators.

   But opponents feared that white nationalists might show up in Boston anyway, 
raising the specter of ugly confrontations in the first potentially large and 
racially charged gathering in a major U.S. city since Charlottesville.

   Events are planned around the country, in cities including Atlanta, Dallas 
and New Orleans.

   Walsh greeted counterprotesters Saturday morning outside Reggie Lewis Center 
in the city's Roxbury neighborhood. Counterprotesters from Black Lives Matter 
and other groups denouncing racism and anti-Semitism are planning to march from 
there to the Common, and another group plans to rally on the steps of the 
Statehouse overlooking the sprawling park.

   The permit issued for the rally on Boston Common came with severe 
restrictions, including a ban on backpacks, sticks and anything that could be 
used as a weapon. The permit is for 100 people, though an organizer has said he 
expected up to 1,000 people to attend.

   The Boston Free Speech Coalition, which organized the event, said it has 
nothing to do with white nationalism or racism and its group is not affiliated 
with the Charlottesville rally organizers in any way.

   "We are strictly about free speech," the group said on its Facebook page. 
"... we will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry. We denounce the 
politics of supremacy and violence."

   But the mayor pointed out that some of those invited to speak "spew hate." 
Kyle Chapman, who described himself on Facebook as a "proud American 
nationalist," said he will attend.

   Black Lives Matter said Friday that members from around the U.S. planned to 
march Saturday in Boston.

   Walsh said the city would do whatever is necessary to head off violence 
initiated by either side. "If anyone gets out of control --- at all --- it will 
be shut down," he said.

   "We will not tolerate any misbehavior, violence or vandalism whatsoever," 
said Evans, Boston's top cop.

   Dating to 1634, Boston Common is the nation's oldest city park. The leafy 
downtown park is popular with locals and tourists and has been the scene of 
numerous rallies and protests for centuries.


(KA)

 
 
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