Mayor Marty Walsh, Gov. Charlie Baker and other local and state leaders convened at a press conference in front of Boston City Hall to discuss a planned rally on the Boston Common Saturday reportedly featuring some of the same speakers that addressed a white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.
During the press conference, Walsh said that Boston stands with the victims of Charlottesville and asked those in attendance to sign a message of condolence that the city would send to Charlottesville. He also sent a clear message to any hate groups planning to come to the city this weekend: "Boston does not welcome you here. Boston does not want you here.”
"We reject racism, we reject white supremacy, we reject anti-Semitism, we reject the KKK, we reject Neo-Nazis, we reject domestic terrorism, and we reject hatred," Walsh added. "We will do every single thing in our power to keep hate out of our city."
Walsh added that while Boston is a city that believes in free speech, it will not tolerate threatening behavior.
Gov. Charlie Baker echoed the mayor's comments, stating that there is no place in the Commonwealth for the type of hatred and bigotry that was demonstrated in Charlottesville.
"An individual sought to hurt people and killed an innocent woman bystander and tried to incite fear into a group of innocent people. As far as I'm concerned, that's terrorism," Baker said. "It's disturbing and sickening to turn on the news and see that there are people in this country who believe that the color of their skin or their place of birth makes them superior to their neighbors, and we as a Commonwealth flatly reject this intolerance."
President Donald Trump received backlash for his initial response to the events in Charlottesville for failing to explicitly condemn white supremacy and for saying that "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides," must stop. Some of those involved in the Charlottesville rally pledged their allegiance to Trump, and Walsh criticized the president for his failure to address the situation more appropriately.
"This was never a many sided issue. This was a right and wrong issue," he said. "Don't hand hatred a megaphone and pretend you can't hear it. Leaders call out hate and reject it before it becomes violent."
The president issued a second statement Monday, stating that "Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."
Saturday's planned rally is being held by a group that calls itself the Free Speech Movement, a moniker that has been adopted by members of the so-called alt-right, an aggregation of white supremacists and others describing themselves as pro-Trump. But the Southern Poverty Law Center describes many of these individuals and groups that include militia and neo-nazis as age-old hate groups in new clothing.
It's not clear who all the parties involved in Saturday's planned demonstration are, but WGBH News has identified the Daily Stormer and Bikers for Trump as participants. A permit to gather on the Boston Common on Saturday has not yet been issued, said Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans. but they do not need a permit if the rally is confined to certain spaces and noise levels are kept to a specified minimum, according to City Hall.
"We're going to work with them on the parameters if there is a permit issued, and we will make sure they will abide by the permit," Evans said. He added that the city and the police department has what he described as a good plan for Saturday, and has been meeting since over the weekend to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.
"I’m confident that people who do come down and are going to march are going to be safe. We do anticipate large crowds, but we expect best behavior out of people," Evans said. "We will not tolerate any acts of violence."