The group behind the Straight Pride Parade that caused controversy last summer in Boston is planning to stage a rally in support of law enforcement at the State House on Saturday afternoon.
Super Happy Fun America, which orchestrated the parade that critics said was meant to stoke discrimination against the LGBTQ community last August, organized Saturday’s event, dubbed “Restore Sanity.”
It comes amid weeks of demonstrations protesting police brutality and systemic racism. At least one counterprotest is planned for Saturday, with Solidarity Against Hate Boston organizing an event called “All out against white supremacy!” Organizers of that event are encouraging the public to turn out “to drown out this hate and make our voices heard against police violence.”
John Hugo, president of Super Happy Fun America, said he expected there to be a small crowd for the group’s rally, guessing that “maybe 100″ would show for that demonstration, which he anticipated would be outnumbered by counterprotesters.
Hugo said his group wants to put a spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement, which he alleged “has nothing to do with saving Black lives.” He referred to the recent demonstrations throughout the country as a “communist takeover.”
“Enough already, it’s time to support the police,” he said during a phone interview on Friday.
Black Lives Matter began in 2013 after Black teenager Trayvon Martin was shot to death in Florida by one-time community watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who was later acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter. The movement has grown as fatal shootings of Black people by police officers are increasingly recorded and shared on social media.
A multitude of demonstrations, both locally and nationwide, in recent weeks have focused mostly on the killing of George Floyd but also on the killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville and racial inequality at large.
Floyd, a 46-year-old handcuffed Black man, died on Memorial Day when a white Minneapolis police officer pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Taylor was a 26-year-old EMT killed in March by police executing a “no-knock” warrant on her home.
A Facebook post for Saturday’s Super Happy Fun America demonstration, which will include a march through Boston Common, states, “Across the nation violent mobs are rioting and committing vandalism, looting and arson while being cheered on by the media. While the police have a duty to protect the rights of those peacefully protesting, they are increasingly being outnumbered by those intent on destruction.”
In Massachusetts, the overwhelming majority of the protests in recent weeks have ended peacefully.
Following a peaceful march and demonstration in Boston on May 31, police clashed with people in ugly scenes in the heart of the city. More than two dozen were sent to the hospital and more than 50 were arrested in that turmoil.
There has also been an increased push recently for police reform throughout the country, a conversation that has included calls for reducing law enforcement budgets and rerouting that money to other programs.
Attempts to reach the organizers of the “All out against white supremacy!” counterdemonstration slated for Saturday were not immediately successful on Friday. A Facebook post promoting that rally said of the Super Happy Fun America event, “Once again, we as a city must come together to drown out their hate.”
Leaders of Super Happy Fun America have said they are not bigoted.
Last August, a few hundred marchers took part in the Straight Pride Parade, which was outdone by numbers and noise from thousands who were protesting the event. Those in the parade were jeered and heckled during a mile-long procession from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza.
Samson Racioppi, chairman of Super Happy Fun America, said the group has organized other demonstrations since that parade, including ones protesting government measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Racioppi dismissed the recent nationwide movement calling for the dismantling of structural inequality as “not organic,” saying that it has been “organized and funded by Marxist groups.”
The city has not issued any permits for Saturday’s Super Happy Fun America event, according to Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s office.
Previous Globe coverage and material from the Associated Press was used in this report.