Citizens across the nation gathered on Saturday for “Make America Great Again” marches to support President Donald Trump, including a group of approximately 100 people participating in Boston, marching from the Old North Church to the Boston Common.
When Taizjon Wallace, a senior at McKinley South End Academy, and Kristin Turgeon, a junior at the Berklee College of Music, heard there would be a MAGA march in Boston, they decided to plan an “Anti-Trump Counter-Rally,” which drew approximately 20 supporters.
Before the rally, Wallace told The Daily Free Press he organized the counter action in order to demonstrate how Boston is a place of acceptance.
“We refuse to have Donald Trump and his hateful rhetoric being on display in the city of Boston,” Wallace said. “We do not welcome hate here.”
Wallace said he expected to experience violence from the pro-Trump demonstrators, but hoped no one would have to resort to attacking each other physically.
“We’re only going to retaliate and maybe use physical force if they start the physical altercations,” Wallace said.
Turgeon added she anticipated violence because she and Wallace have been receiving hateful comments on the Facebook page for the counter-rally and on their own personal pages.
The two groups of demonstrators first encountered one another behind the Old North Church, where about 20 Boston police officers stood between the groups as they chanted back and forth, often resorting to using foul language.
Then, MAGA marchers made their way to the Boston Common, followed by participants in the counter-rally as the police officers stopped traffic so all demonstrators could proceed safely.
Several of the counter-rally demonstrators wore masks to ensure anonymity because they feared retaliation from the Trump supporters, Turgeon said. At the same time, MAGA marchers claimed before the march they also hoped to promote peace.
Kelly McHugh, one of the organizers of the MAGA march, said she is participating in the movement because she believes in unifying the nation.
“I love my country, and I want my grandchildren that I have now and my great-grandchildren and their children to have the opportunities that I had — to love my neighbors and feel safe,” she said. “I want to feel safe. Why can’t we all unite?”
Sue Villemaire, another MAGA organizer, said she wanted to show her support for the president, veterans and police officers.
“We need to stand up and show our support for America. It seems like everyone is afraid to say they support Trump, and that’s really sad,” Villemaire said. “I think we’re being painted as racists and bigots because we support President Trump, but we’re just here because we love our country.”
Several participants in the anti-Trump counter-rally said they came to oppose the MAGA march because they believe the pro-Trump demonstrators are fascists.
John Durso, 24, of Bridgewater, said he fears Trump will create a fascist government that could lead to international violence.
“It’s important to stand up to fascism in its early stages, before it gets to the stage where it’s committing genocide,” Durso said.
The pro-Trump marchers defended themselves against claims that they support fascism and said Trump will encourage peace throughout the world and improve the lives of American citizens.
John Camden, 34, of Manchester, New Hampshire, came to the MAGA march carrying a large flag made by his friend, which he said was a variation of the flag of the U.S. Navy. He said he finds it ironic that the counter-protesters, who wielded communist flags, would call the Trump supporters fascists.
“I find it hilarious that they sit there, they call us fascists and yet they are supporting a government that killed tens of millions of people all over the world,” Camden said. “My father was a Vietnam [War] veteran, and he saw first hand what communism could do in countries all over the world.”
James Sorrentino, 50, of Everett, said he came to the MAGA march draped in an American flag to stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves, like the homeless or underprivileged, and to reinstate what he believes are core American values.
“What’s going on with the young people in America is sad,” Sorrentino said. “I just don’t get it. There’s a lack of respect … The foundation of family in America is gone, and that’s the problem here. We have no family.”
Once at the Common, members and organizers of the pro-Trump movement made speeches to the crowd using a megaphone, while anti-Trump protesters chanted phrases such as “racists go home” and “Donald Trump, making America hate again.”
The MAGA marchers concluded by playing the U.S. National Anthem and thanking the Boston Police Department. Shortly after, both groups dispersed.