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Video, Photos: VOA Reports on Competing Boston Rallies

  • VOA News

Counterprotesters prepare to walk 3 kilometers to Boston Common, where a "free speech" rally was being held, in Boston, Aug. 19, 2017.

Thousands of leftist activists marched Saturday through downtown Boston in opposition to a planned free-speech rally that featured right-wing speakers, heavily outnumbering the few dozen people who showed up for the rally.

WATCH: VOA's Carolyn Presutti in Boston

WATCH: VOA Spanish service broadcast Celia Mendoza in Boston

The rally was organized in July by a group calling itself Boston Free Speech, which says it is made up of a coalition of "libertarians, progressives, conservatives and independents."

Organizers stand on the bandstand on Boston Common during a "free speech" rally staged by conservative activists, in Boston, Aug. 19, 2017. Counterprotesters stand along barricades ringing the bandstand.
Organizers stand on the bandstand on Boston Common during a "free speech" rally staged by conservative activists, in Boston, Aug. 19, 2017. Counterprotesters stand along barricades ringing the bandstand.

John Medlar, one of the group's organizers, told multiple media outlets the rally would not welcome white supremacists, and he has denounced racist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

Despite the group's rejection of white supremacists, ANSWER Coalition Boston, a local chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement, held a counterdemonstration, which it dubbed "Fight Supremacy," to oppose the free speech rally.

The free speech rally, however, was sparsely attended, with never more than a few dozen people. Reuters reported that the event's speakers could not be heard over the shouts by counterprotesters, who were kept away from the gazebo where the free speech rally was held.

Counterprotesters gather to march against a planned "free speech" rally being held by conservative organizers at Boston Common in Boston, Aug. 19, 2017.
Counterprotesters gather to march against a planned "free speech" rally being held by conservative organizers at Boston Common in Boston, Aug. 19, 2017.

The free speech rally ended a half-hour early -- it had received a permit to gather from 12-2 p.m. EDT.

Police estimated that 40,000 people took part in the demonstrations Saturday.

WATCH: Counterprotesters march to Boston Common

A large crowd of people march towards the Boston Commons to protest the Boston Free Speech Rally in Boston, Aug. 19, 2017.
A large crowd of people march towards the Boston Commons to protest the Boston Free Speech Rally in Boston, Aug. 19, 2017.

WATCH: VOA's Carolyn Presutti in Boston at start of counterprotest

Police said they arrested more than two dozen people Saturday.

The thousands of leftist activists marching Saturday heavily outnumbered those attending the free-speech rally featuring right-wing speakers, which was scheduled in July by a group calling itself Boston Free Speech.

WATCH: VOA's Michael Gutkin in Boston

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