By Yanxuan Li
BU News Service
Demonstrators gathered on Saturday afternoon at the Parkman Bandstand in Boston Common to protest against President Trump and his administration, which they described as a “fascist regime.”
“The fascism and the hate are coming out of the white house, ” Emmanuel Lusardi, Liaison for Immigrant Affairs in the Cambridge vice mayor’s office, said. “Now hate is coming from all directions. Imagine if you are an undocumented immigrant and also a gay. You’ll get attacked on every front.”
The organizer Scott Gilbert said this rally was supposed to kick off a series of demonstrations nationwide and force the removal of Trump and the vice president Mike Pence.
“We want to let people know that what they were told was not true, that we can make a change,” he said.
The event, marked by a one-and-a-half hour speech and a march through Boston Common and Downtown Crossing, was organized by a group called Refuse Fascism. Twenty similar rallies were held on Saturday throughout the United States, including in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Jon Medlar, one organizer of the “Free Speech Rally” in August, also attended the event to live stream the protest.
“I’m here to see what is happening,” Medlar said. He said that compared to the rally in August, which was criticized for being a platform for hate speech and was shut down by thousands of counter protesters, this one was allowed to proceed without barriers.
“We are mostly like just a bunch of local free speech activists. That’s what we are. We believe in free speech for everyone, including these people here,” Medlar said. “But as we went here this August and tried to have our own rally, everyone just freaked out.”
Saturday’s protest began with around 20 people. As it proceeded, more and more passers-by joined the group. At 5 p.m., about 100 people, including protesters and counter protesters, were standing on the lawn before Parkman Bandstand, debating with each other.
22-year-old Henry White, a student majoring in Politics Studies at Emerson College, said the protesters were going too far.
“Our constitution is rational. What these guys are trying to do is to overturn our constitution,” he said. “These name-calling things won’t resolve any of the problems we now have.”
Weeks before this event, there were reports that Saturday’s rally was to be held by the anti-fascist group antifa, intending to trigger a civil war.
The conspiracy theory gained momentum on social media and some websites, such as InfoWars.
Sunsara Taylor, the co-initiator and spokesperson of Refuse Fascism, tweeted on Friday debunking this claim.
“The bottom line, however, is that we are acting in the interests of humanity and therefore we refuse to be intimidated,” she said.
Some arguments burst out as the protesters knelt, shouting their slogan, “Take the knee against white supremacy.”
Linda Moore from New Hampshire said, “They came in the name of anti-fascism, but this is absolutely fascism.”
However, despite the disagreements, the rally proceeded without violence and ended without arrests.