Boston’s mayor and police commissioner appeared optimistic about Saturday’s controversial “free speech” rally on the Boston Common in an interview on WGBH’s Greater Boston Wednesday evening.
Mayor Marty Walsh said he doesn’t expect the same people who were at a violent white nationalist rally last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, to be in Boston this weekend, despite a couple of initial overlaps in invited speakers.
“This group that, to our knowledge, is coming to Boston Saturday is not the same group that was in Virginia last week,” he told host Jim Braude. “I mean, they might have a similar name to it, but they’re different people
Boston Free Speech, the group organizing the rally, said in comments on a Facebook post that there may be “overlap” in attendance between the two rallies. The group also said in multiple Facebook posts that they are in “no way” affiliated with the Charlottesville rally.
“While we maintain that every individual is entitled to their freedom of speech and defend that basic human right, we will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry,” the group wrote on Facebook Tuesday. “We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence.”
Police Commissioner William Evans said police met Wednesday with organizers of the rally and a “solidarity” march, which is also scheduled for Saturday, and reviewed the rules and regulations of getting a permit to hold a rally in the city.
“They were fine with everything that was put in front of them today,” he said on Greater Boston.
Organizers of the rally were granted a permit Wednesday by the city’s parks department. According to a Boston Globe report, the permit is for 100 people and says the event can be held from noon to 2 p.m. with added time for setup and cleanup.
Evans said no sticks or “anything that can be used as a weapon” will be allowed. He urged people attending not to bring backpacks. If they do, they’ll be subject to search.
“We really made clear we don’t want anyone hurt,” Evans said.
Walsh had a clear message for people who planned to use hateful language: “Don’t come to our city.”
He ended the interview on a positive note.
“I think we’ll be fine,” he said. “I have full faith and trust in the Boston Police Department and the people of Boston. We’ve gone through the toughest things in our history, and I hope that people come into our city and treat it with respect.”