An anti-Marxist organization announced its plans Friday to proceed with its free speech rally at the Boston Common, scheduled for Nov. 18, despite not being granted the necessary permit.
City officials denied the group’s permit request due to an overlap with a family-friendly 5K race set to take place at the Boston Commons that same day.
Resist Marxism’s Rally for the Republic aims to bring together an estimated 2,000 individuals to rally against anti-nationalist actions and, “defend freedom of speech in Boston from the machinations of [Boston] Mayor Marty Walsh and the violence of the mobs,” according to the official Resist Marxism website.
The group will stop at nothing to host their rally, said a spokesperson for the group Resist Marxism, who wished to remain anonymous.
“We are exercising our First Amendment rights and will not be deterred by threats,” the spokesperson said.
Resist Marxism does not desire to engage in aggressive dialogue or violence, despite allegations that they provided a platform for racist speech at the August rally, according to the site. Dubbed the Boston Free Speech Rally, the gathering of a free speech group at the Common following the incident in Charlottesville drew thousands of counter-protestors, The Daily Free Press reported.
Ryan Woods, director of external affairs for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, said Resist Marxism submitted their permit application on Sept. 18, but a preexisting application for the Camp Harbor View 5K road race had been filed months before on March 1 and took precedence.
Woods said Resist Marxism was immediately alerted of the scheduling issue, but argued over event timing, rather than adjusting their schedule.
“We offered them a permit for the 19th instead, but they refused it and said it was impossible because they had a speaker and attendees that were flying in from out of state,” Woods said. “So, they told us they were still going ahead with their event on the 18th.”
Resist Marxism claims they did not receive an email denying their permit request until Oct. 26 — long after the 10-business-day waiting period the Boston Parks and Recreation Department outlines on their website.
“They did attempt to get us to move the rally to November 19th in exchange for a permit, but, unfortunately, it was too late,” Resist Marxism said on the site. “Plane tickets had already been purchased, hotel arrangements had been made, and people had scheduled time off.”
Woods said because group demonstrations are a daily occurrence in the Boston Common, and most organizers do not apply for permits, the City will take no restrictive measures to prevent the rally.
“Groups have their freedom of speech every week in the park,” Woods said. “So, [Resist Marxism is] allowed to come that day and have their own peaceful rally, as they say they plan to do, and we won’t stop them from doing that.”
Professor Lawrence Friedman of New England Law explained that, ordinarily, there are legal restrictions on organized speech events in public parks like the Common, and that he is surprised by the City’s leniency in allowing the rally to go on without a permit.
“Typically, it is illegal for rally organizers to proceed without a permit,” Friedman said. “But, it seems that the City, in its discretion, will allow the unpermitted rally to go forward, albeit without sound amplification.”
Several Boston residents expressed varying opinions concerning the rally overlapping with a family event.
Anna Duarte, 31, of Dorchester, said, as a mother, she is concerned by the prospect of a controversial organization interfering with a children’s event.
“Despite whatever claims the organizers make about planning for a civil rally they could be disruptive, or even aggressive, like many rallies in the Common are, and that makes me uneasy about this overlapping with an event meant for children,” Duarte said.
Chris Anderson, 40, of Beacon Hill, said he believes any organization should be welcome to express their views in Boston, but Resist Marxism must take responsibility if the rally disturbs the children attending the road race.
“If one group can hold an event, others should be able to do the same, no matter their views and the city shouldn’t discriminate with issuing permits based on those views,” Anderson said. “Though, if the rally gets out of hand, that’s on Resist Marxism because they did it when asked not to, with the knowledge that kids would be around.”
Cassie Lee, 26, of Brighton, said she was disappointed by Resist Marxism’s unwillingness to be flexible with their planning and believes the rally will attract a considerable number of counter protesters.
“I don’t think they should’ve been denied the permit just because they’ve been accused of giving racists a platform to spew hate speech, but I think it says a lot about their organization’s values that they refused to move their rally back even a single day to let the kids have their race,” Lee said.