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Three months after a controversial, self-proclaimed "free speech" rally drew relatively few attendees and tens of thousands of counter-protesters to Boston Common, a group of some of the same participants said it plans to hold a similar event at the same location Saturday.
Boston city officials said, however, that unlike the organizers of the Aug. 19 rally, the group calling itself Resist Marxism does not have the necessary permit to hold their so-called "Rally for the Republic" event.
Still, organizers said they are undeterred by a lack of a permit and plan to gather at noon, rain or shine. Participants assert on their website they are "well within [their] constitutional rights to host a rally without a permit" on the Common.
The group bills itself on its website as an "umbrella organization" of groups — including those behind the August rally — working "to defend free speech from government suppression and violent mobs." An event poster promotes Kyle Chapman — a right-wing nationalist and notorious Internet figure also known by the nickname "Based Stickman" -- as one of its headliners. Chapman was also one of the scheduled speakers at the so-called 'free speech' rally whose remarks went undelivered because the event was cut short.
On its website, Resist Marxism further states:
All groups who honor the Constitution and love America are welcome to join including patriotic, conservative, libertarian, civic nationalist, and classical liberal organizations. We do not associate with neo-Nazis, fascists, communists, and of course Marxists. We are a network of people and groups who come together and assist patriotic Americans attempting to hold public events in the face of hostility.
The group was granted a permit to hold its event on Sunday, but was denied one for Saturday. The city said it had already granted a permit to a road race that raises money for a youth summer camp serving Boston's at-risk neighborhoods.
As of Friday, there appeared to be far less attention and backlash around Resist Marxism's event, compared to that of the August assembly. Boston police officials said they are not expecting many attendees or counter-protesters on Saturday.
Here's some context on the last "free speech" rally in Boston: Counter-demonstrators came out in droves — with police estimating crowd numbers of up to 45,000 — to protest what many of them believed was a gathering orchestrated by supporters or sympathizers of white nationalists and neo-Nazis involved in the deadly chaos in Charlottesville, Virigina, the weekend before.
The Boston event, planned by the Boston Free Speech Coalition, was advertised by known white nationalists linked to the violent unrest in Charlottesville, but at least two speakers with those controversial ties ultimately were disinvited or canceled their appearances.
John Medlar, an organizer with the Boston Free Speech Coalition, has repeatedly said the earlier Boston event was mischaracterized, blaming "media hysteria" and others who he says connected his event with the clashes in Charlottesville.
Medlar criticized Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and another organizer filed a lawsuit last month against Walsh, accusing the mayor of slandering him and others, and ultimately costing the man his job as a software consultant.
Resist Marxism also criticized the city for preventing the public and the media from entering the August rally.
"No such conditions were enforced upon the counter protesters," the group said on its website.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief in federal court Thursday, claiming the city and police officials intentionally restricted journalists' access to speakers at the last rally. Police did, in fact, cordon off journalists, including WBUR reporters, and prevented them from being near enough to hear or ask questions of the speakers at that event.
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