‘Free speech’ group wants to hold another rally after 1st cost taxpayers big money

BOSTON (WHDH) - Only a few dozen members of the Boston-based ‘free speech’ coalition showed up when they held a rally on Boston Common in August, but organizers want to hold another one this fall.

The rally turned out to be anything but free after hundreds of law enforcement officials were placed on standby, costing taxpayers big money.

Boston police confirmed to 7’s Sharman Sacchetti that overtime costs topped $235,000 on Saturday, Aug. 19.

Only a few dozen attended the actual rally, compared to some 40,000 counterprotesters that marched through Boston before converging on the Common.

Free speech rally organizers say they want to do it all over again.

“Specifically because of the way the last one went,” John Medlar said when asked why he wants to hold a second rally. “That shows we have tapped into something very important.”

Medlar says he believes in free speech rights. But critics argue his group is giving white nationalists a platform.

At the last rally, police needed to escort the small group out of the common for their own safety.

“We shouldn’t have had to (be escorted to safety). That proves our point. There seems to be a very problematic cultural intolerance of free speech in our society,” Medlar said when reminded him of the chaotic scene.

While rally was largely peaceful, clashes erupted when protesters outside the common started hurling dangerous objects at police.

“They’re just looking for trouble at this point,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said.

Walsh says the group should go rally somewhere else.

“It’s insanity. We just don’t need that kind of nonsense coming into our city. The cost of that day to keep thirty people safe was just enormous and excessive,” Walsh said.

When asked if he would deny the group a permit this time around, Walsh said “I don’t know. We’ll wait and see if they file something. We’ll see what happens.”

Medlar says he hasn’t filed for a permit yet. He’s looking at some time in November.

7News will provide more information on Boston Free Speech’s future plans when it becomes available.

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