BOSTON (WHDH) – Anger, arrests, and tens of thousands of protesters. That was the scene on Boston Common this summer.
Now, another rally, billed as a “Rally for the Republic,” is set for this Saturday and 7NEWS asked the organizers some tough questions.
Samson Racioppi and John Medlar are two of the organizers. They reject the belief of many, that white supremacists and neo-Nazis are behind the rally, and insist that the focus is free speech.
“Honestly, if I saw people who were openly white supremacists or racists or Nazis, I would be like, ‘I can’t associate with this. This is not the type of message I want to bring to Boston,’” Racioppi said. “The people who are organizing these events are peaceful, and they’re not looking to incite violence.”
“The message is: We love our country. We love our constitution. We love our veterans,” Medlar said.
But the people they’ve invited to speak are raising real concerns.
“Even if it was a hate speech rally – which it isn’t – hate speech is protected by the United States Supreme Court,” said Kyle Chapman, who is flying in from the West Coast to speak at the event.
On Facebook, Chapman has previously written that “the war on whites is real” and that parents who let their young children live as transgender people “should be locked up for child abuse.” But he became well-known on the internet after a viral video showed him using a stick to hit people of opposing political views at a rally in Berkeley, California. Police arrested him and said that stick was filled with lead.
“I did not invite violence,” Chapman said.
Chapman said that the chaos at the Boston rally was entirely the work of protesters.
“The fact that us having a rally can provoke a violent response in 40,000 people — that’s your problem,” Chapman said.
And Chapman said that while he doesn’t want white supremacists to show up this weekend, “We can’t control who comes to the rally.”
“We’re just normal Americans. We don’t have a racist bone in us,” said Joey Gibson, another speaker, who will be traveling to Boston from his home in Oregon to speak at the rally.
He said that he only wants to promote freedom. But in a video posted online, he gets fired up berating the protesters at the August rally in Boston, calling them “rabid” and “hateful.”
Gibson admits that he does intentionally speak in areas of the country where he’s most likely to be met with angry confrontation.
“We do go into areas where we know that they can be violent, where they will probably attack us – that’s the thing. But we do that because we want the country to see what we’re dealing with here,” Gibson said.
When we asked Medlar whether speakers like Gibson and Chapman are seeking out a physical confrontation, Medlar replied, “If we were looking for a physical confrontation, this would not be the way we would go about it.”
Many who opposed the August rally believed that even if the organizers were not white supremacists themselves, they were giving a platform to people who hold those views.
When asked about that belief, Medlar replied, “Our platform is just as open to people with anti-racist views, and in fact, we encourage people to use free speech to call out racism.”
“There’s people that are being whipped up into a frenzy, and we need to counter that with logical dialogue, constructive dialogue,” Racioppi said.
But 7NEWS asked him whether events like Saturday’s rally contribute to people being whipped into a frenzy.
“I think it’s the way that it’s being portrayed that contributes to the whipping into a frenzy,” Racioppi said.
Medlar said he just wants rallies like this one to succeed.
“Success means that they’re able to happen,” Medlar said.
The City of Boston has refused to issue a permit for Saturday’s rally. But organizers said they plan to show up on the Common anyway.
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