A Jaffrey resident who was supposed to speak about voter fraud in New Hampshire at Saturday’s free speech rally in Boston said he was whisked away by police before he ever made it to his speaking engagement.
Christopher Mazerall, who served as the Jaffrey town chair for President Donald Trump’s campaign, said he was verbally accosted by a number of counter protestors in the crowd, had his President Trump hat stolen (which he later recovered), and was hit with a bottle allegedly filled with urine, on his way toward the Boston Common.
“I think to [the protestors] we are all the same, it is what it is,” said Mazerall, who said that he was called a Nazi, a racist, and a Fascist, among other things, after the crowd of protestors noticed his Trump hat and T-shirt. “A lot of people were behaving in a bestial way, like barbarians.”
Mazerall had been notified of the event — organized by the Boston Free Speech Coalition — about three weeks prior, when he was asked by a friend to informally speak at the event. Mazerall said he was running late on his way to the event, and didn’t realize that it had ended before he had even arrived near the common.
The free speech rally, according to the event posting on Facebook, was in no way connected to the Charlottesville rally that occurred on Aug. 12. The coalitions Facebook page says they stand for “free speech in all forms from all sides of the political spectrum.”
“While we maintain that every individual is entitled to their freedom of speech and defend that basic human right, we will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry,” read a message in the details of the Facebook event. “We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence. We denounce the actions, activities, and tactics of the so-called Antifa movement. We denounce the normalization of political violence.”
While the Free Speech Rally was a small event — the Boston Globe reports an “unremarkable gathering” of about 50 people — a counter protest denouncing racism, anti-Semitism, religious bigotry, and other hate turned out tens of thousands of people.
As he got closer to the park area, Mazerall said the threats continued, and then a group of four young black adults, who he called “colored,” came by and stole his hat, causing him to chase after one of them.
“I was amongst them for about 30 minutes,” said Mazerall, who said he wasn’t scared at any point and expected some backlash. “I walked around like I owned the place, like I knew what I was doing.”
After getting shoved by someone and almost falling over someone else in the crowd, Mazerall said he was suddenly grabbed by a police officer, who grabbed him by the arm and later threw him in the back of a police van. Mazerall estimates he was in the van for about 30 to 45 minutes before he was let out.
“It felt like they were treating me as a suspect,” said Mazerall. “I think they figured it was easier to jerk me away than to go against that crowd.”
As he was getting removed from the area by police, Mazerall said people began to throw bottles and other things at him.
Mazerall called the group a a “mob of leftists” and “Communists.”
“I was dodging them like George W. Bush,” said Mazerall, referencing when former President George W. Bush dodged shoes thrown by an Iraqi journalist during a news conference in Baghdad in 2008. Mazerall said he was unaware he was hit with a bottle potentially containing urine until he saw the photo captured by the Boston Globe.
Mazerall said the police later backed the van around the corner, telling him to stay away from the large crowd of counter protestors and to zip up his track suit and to hide his face.
“[The police] told me that the crowd wanted my head on a stick,” said Mazerall.
Lyndeborough resident Lucius Sorrentino also made the trek to Boston, although he did so to participate in the counter protest.
“The crowd I saw was very friendly,” said Sorrentino, who said he had heard about what happened to Mazerall, but was not in that area. “Ninety-nine-percent of the people at the rally were polite, wonderful people.”
Sorrentino said he saw people representing both the left and the right acting peacefully, although there were also a few people on both sides that were a little more violent.
“There are extremes on both sides,” said Sorrentino. “There are fringe groups on the left and right that get a lot more attention for what they do.”
Sorrentino admitted to playing his part in hectoring those in attendance for the free speech rally, asking police and other people where the Nazis were.
“If you walk into an opposing crowd with an opposing slogan, people are going to react,” said Sorrentino, who made a reference to what would happen if a New York Yankees fan wore their team’s memorabilia to Fenway Park. “Whether its politics or sports… people are partisan.”
Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235.