A large crowd of people march towards the Boston Commons to protest the Boston Free Speech Rally in Boston, MA, U.S., August 19, 2017. Photo by Stephanie Keith/Reuters
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Thousands of counter protesters have taken to the streets in the US city of Boston in response to a right-wing rally that has sparked concerns of possible violence only one week after violent clashes turned deadly in the Virginia town of Charlottesville.
Demonstrators, including men, women and children showed up in Boston on Saturday to march toward Boston Common — America’s oldest city park — before a planned “Free Speech” right wing rally.
Activists from the Black Lives Matter and other groups were attending the counter demonstration.
Police stand by as thousands of protesters prepare to march in Boston against a planned 'Free Speech Rally' just one week after the violent 'Unite the Right' rally in Virginia left one woman dead and dozens more injured on August 19, 2017 in Boston. (Photo by AFP)
Chanting anti-Nazi and anti-fascism slogans, they waved signs that read, “Love your neighbor," ''Resist fascism" and "Hate never made US great." Some of them dressed entirely in black and wore bandannas over their faces.
Boston police estimated some 15,000 people will participate in the rally to the Common.
Thousands of protesters prepare to march in Boston against a planned "Free Speech Rally" just one week after the violent 'Unite the Right' rally in Virginia left one woman dead and dozens more injured on August 19, 2017 in Boston, the United States. (Photo by AFP)
Some 500 police officers were deployed to the city to avert possible confrontations at the event. “We will not tolerate any misbehavior, violence or vandalism whatsoever," said Police Commissioner William Evans.
Police officers "expect good behavior but will be prepared should it go bad," CNN quoted one law enforcement source at the Boston Police Department as saying.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also asked counter-demonstrators on Friday to avoid the rally area, saying their presence would draw more attention to the far-right activists.
Boston has banned weapons of any kind -- including sticks used to hold signs -- in the rally and closed the streets to avert car attacks like the deadly one, which killed a woman, in Charlottesville last week, authorities said.
White nationalists and neo-Nazis clash with counter-protesters in Charlottesville on August 11, 2017.(Photo by AFP)
The warnings to avoid violence follow the horror of the Charlottesville violence and scenes of neo-Nazis and white supremacists, who took over the Virginia's city streets last Saturday and prompted thousands of others to demonstrate in a counter-rally, which led to violent clashes.
The bloody clashes which led to three deaths and more than a dozen injuries in Charlottesville, ratcheted up racial tensions across the country.
The white supremacist rally was held to protest a planned removal of a Confederate statue of General Robert E. Lee, who was leading southern forces against the Union Army in the American Civil War. He has been venerated as a heroic figure in the South.
In response to the nationalist rally, local demonstrators and anti-racist activists from all over the country were called to Charlottesville to oppose the event.
The violence sparked even a bigger crisis after US President Donald Trump refused to immediately condemn white nationalists, and instead, he blamed the violence on both sides of the conflict.
“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” said the president. “Nobody wants to say it, but I will say it right now."
Trump’s messages have fueled the escalating rhetoric from "alt-right" figures and white supremacists across the United States and prompted local and federal law enforcement officials to warn about the potential for more violence in the coming days.
Major cities across the US are bracing for an unusual wave of far-right rallies, while thousands of people vowed to hold rallies in counter demonstrations and in a show of solidarity with Charlottesville.
In addition to the Boston rally, and an expected counter-march, protests are also expected to be held in Texas on Saturday.
In another event in the country, thousands of people took to the streets in the city of Portland, Oregan, in a show of “solidarity with Charlottesville” on Friday evening.
Protesters sit on the Morrison Bridge in Portland for four and a half minutes of silence on August 18, 2017.
The rally, which was organized by Local activist group Portland’s Resistance, drew thousands of people, who were marching through the streets of downtown Portland and chanting slogans like, "No KKK, No Fascist USA, No Trump."
The crowd held a moment of silence for people who have died because of racism, including Heather Heyer, who was killed in the Charlottesville car rampage last week.