‘We don’t want them here’: Mayor Walsh wants free speech organizers to stay away

BOSTON (WHDH) - Scenes from a deadly and chaotic white nationalists rally in Virginia continue to spread across the world as one group says they’re planning a “free speech rally” on Boston Common next weekend.

Boston Free Speech says the rally is to address attacks on the First Amendment.

“Libertarians, conservatives, traditionalists, classical liberals, Trump supporters or anyone else who enjoys their right to free speech are encouraged to attend,” the group said.

The group held a rally on the common this past spring. Some demonstrators covered their faces and wielded what appeared to be weapons, as counter protesters yelled at them to leave.

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Rally organizers say they are not in any way associated with the organizers of the Charlottesville rally. But some of the speakers shown on a rally flier and announced on the group’s Facebook page attended the Charlottesville demonstration.

Mayor Marty Walsh says they aren’t welcome in Boston.

“We don’t need them here. We don’t need that message here. The message should be about unity,” Walsh said. “We don’t need them here spewing that type of hate. We don’t want them here, we don’t need them here, they shouldn’t be here.”

City Councilor Tito Jackson, who’s running for Boston mayor, says he doesn’t agree with what they’re saying, but the Constitution protects it.

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“It’s the first amendment. So when it comes down to the Constitution, we stand up for people’s rights in order to peaceably assemble and say what they want. When it comes down to our city, we have dealt with this before and we will be able to make sure we will continue to be secure,” Jackson said.

Demonstrators gathered on the common Saturday night to denounce hate, bigotry, and white supremacy. They plan to be out again to counter-protest next weekend, saying there’s a difference between free speech, and hate speech.

“We all have a role to play in this. The threat is real. The threat is growing, and we really need people to step up,” one woman said.

Mayor Walsh says he’ll be meeting with the Boston police chief and commissioner Sunday night and Monday, and from there they’ll come up with a course of action for how to handle the free speech rally.

Walsh’s office says they don’t have a permit to reserve the space, but that doesn’t mean they can’t show up to demonstrate.

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