A protester faces off with a line of riot police during a demonstration after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington.

Credit: John Minchillo/AP

Former Boston Police Superintendent Talks Crowd Control Leading Up To Rally

August 18, 2017

The violence in Charlottesville, Va., between white supremacists and protesters claimed the life of Heather Heyer and sent dozens to the hospital. The episode, as well as President Donald Trump's reaction to it, has inflamed emotions around the country and brought deep-seated racial issues to the forefront of our national discourse. It also cast a spotlight on a little-known rally scheduled for Boston.
The "Free Speech Rally" organized by the Boston Free Speech Coalition is defended by its organizers as a platform to support rigorous intellectual debate. John Medlar, the group's spokesman, said members condemn all forms of hatred, racism and bigotry. But protesters claim the group is providing a platform for white supremacists to spew racial invective. Some of its headline speakers have publicly endorsed right wing extremist groups.
Black Lives Matter and other local activists have pledged that between 20,000 and 30,000 counter protesters will converge on the Boston Common tomorrow afternoon to confront the rally. The emotionally charged context has Boston Police Department ramping up its crowd control tactics. Barriers will separate opposing groups, security cameras have been installed and the department has implemented bans on objects that could be used as weapons.
But the police also sat down with organizers of protests and the rally to discuss safety measures and the city's expectations. Daniel Linskey, a former Boston police superintendent-in-chief, told WGBH News that Commissioner Bill Evan's approach reflects a change in policy within the department. Community outreach, coordination and preparation are a number of so-called soft approaches Evans is using to prevent another Charlottesville.To hear the interview, click the audio file above to hear more.


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