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Free speech rally once again brings controversy to the Common

Mirroring the Boston Free Speech rally in August, the Rally for the Republic brought controversy to the Boston Common Saturday afternoon.

Heavily regulated by Boston police officers, around 40 people gathered at the Parkman Bandstand to advocate for free speech. A wide stretch of the Common flanked by makeshift metal barriers divided them from about 100 counter protesters.

The rally and counterprotest led to three arrests, including assault and battery on a police officer, according to a tweet by the Boston Police.

The Rally for the Republic was organized by Resist Marxism, despite being denied a permit by the City of Boston in October. This was the second attempt at a protest for free speech in Boston, with the first Free Speech rally in August drawing tens of thousands of counterprotesters.

Many people have been silenced for having conservative views, Christopher Maider, creator of The M&P Conservative Media Network, said during the rally. Maider said he had personally been silenced for sharing his views on the radio, forcing him to start his own network.

“Freedom of speech is not about what you wish never to hear and then make silent, but to defend the right of everyone to speak most abhorrent,” Maider said.

Freedom of speech exists to help all Americans, regardless of race or sexual orientation, Maider said.

Kyle Chapman, a right-wing figure, said the fight for free speech is a fight for freedom that “Western man” has been involved in for the past “millennia.”

“This war is multifaceted — it’s a war of good versus evil,” Chapman said. “It’s a war of political ideologies — once again, good versus evil.”

Chapman called out the counterprotesters, joined by the well-known political satirist Vermin Supreme and anti-fascist organization Antifa, blaming them for encroaching on the “freedoms” of Americans.  

“We are on the side of God — they are on the side of evil,” Chapman said. “We will not keep this freedom, this beacon of western civilization, if we don’t fight, if we don’t bleed, if we don’t sacrifice.”

Tammy Lee, a self-proclaimed freedom fighter for America, said during the rally the hatred and the war from “speaking the truth” has consequences, but people can choose which side to be on.

“Violence, racist and bigotry does not solve anything and only proves we, as a nation, are broken,” Lee said. “We have to begin to listen to each other. We have to stop looking with our eyes and our minds closed.”

The counterprotests were attended and coordinated by organizations such as Antifa, Fight Supremacy and The Lone Wolf Antifascist. Fight Supremacy mobilized its members to counter the rally as they believe the free speech groups in question “create a disjointed view of democracy built on true American values of racism, sexism, ableism, xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia,” according to an official press release from the group.

As the rally came to a close, rallygoers were escorted out by the police to the State House, where they came face to face with counterprotesters, separated only by a line of police.

Chants of “USA! USA!” “Blue lives matter” and “All lives matter” by rallygoers were returned by chants of “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” by counterprotesters. This continued until the small group of people from the rally were escorted off the Common by police so they could safely exit the premise.

Several counterprotesters expressed the importance of standing against such rallies and the message they send.   

Protesters like Julia Friedman, a senior at Curry College, said it is necessary to fight hatred, and that the rally is based on clear misinformation.

“There’s a couple of end goals that they have — spreading distrust and disinformation and dividing people, so just causing interruptions and chaos,” Friedman said. “They mostly have been doing it so much because they have [seen] the rise of everyone protesting this administration and this regime and they take it as a threat to their existence.”  

Friedman said the amount of people who showed up at the counterprotest shows how vital it is to stand together.

“Just the show of solidarity was important,” Friedman said. “As anyone with a conscience in these ridiculously confusing and terrifying times, we’ve got to stick together.”

Rohmee Mathe, another senior at Curry College, said it was important for her to make her voice heard in the counterprotests.

“I have come and supported other rallies,” Mathe said. “It’s something really important that everyone should be aware of.”

Anu Sawhney contributed to the reporting of this article.

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