Exactly one week after opposing protesters violently clashed on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one demonstrator and wounding several others, a Free Speech rally is coming to Boston. The city issued a permit today for the Boston Free Speech Coalition to hold its event on the Boston Common this Saturday, but with some major caveats: no sticks, nothing that can be used as a weapon and no backpacks.
"We want everyone to protest peacefully, respectfully and we really made clear we don't want anyone hurt," said Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans when he joined Jim Braude on Greater Boston along with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
"The commission got a chance to meet with them [the organizers] and to talk about the rules and regulations of getting a permit and they were fine with everything that was put in front of them," said Walsh."That group, to our knowledge, that's coming to Boston Saturday is not the same group that was in Virginia last weekend," he said, explaining that officials anticipate it will be a much a more orderly demonstration in Boston.
"We have a lot of practice at this," said Evans. "We dealt with the Occupy movement, the Patriots parades; and we've learned how to separate crowds and keep different factions apart. We have a very soft approach. We never have the helmets, the sticks; and we engage in dialogue."
Although officials are hoping for the best, they're also planning for the worst. In the event protesters do start to get violent, they will have equipment nearby that they can bring in almost immediately.
"It's a measured approach," said Evans. "It starts very soft and we can pick it up. If things are going to get thrown at us and we're going to get assaulted, then you know I'm not going to leave my officers out there to get injured."
"What we're saying very clearly here in Boston is: Respect Boston Common; respect the city of Boston," said Walsh. "We don't want and don't need any hateful language used in the city of Boston and, if you're going to do that, don't come to our city."
To watch Jim's full interview with Mayor Marty Walsh and Police Commissioner Bill Evans, including their thoughts on President Donald Trump's recent rhetoric, click on the video player above.