Organizers of a counterprotest rally are expecting thousands of people to participate and march from Roxbury to the Boston Common on Saturday.
“We’re expecting about 20,000 to 30,000,” Roxbury activist Monica Cannon said. “We’ve had people reach out from the Jewish community, the Asian community. We have people coming from all over the country. I know Black Lives Matter global network, from Toronto, Minneapolis. . . . We have some activists who were on the front lines in Charlottesville coming to Boston as well, so we’re really hopeful.”
On Friday morning, Cannon and Boston City Council candidate Angelina Camacho briefed the media on what they’ve planned for the “Fight Supremacy! Boston Counter-Protest & Resistance Rally” on Saturday. Violence In Boston, Black Lives Matter Cambridge, and Black Lives Matter Boston are among the organizations coordinating the event, which is being held “to demand justice and stand in defiance of white supremacy.” More than 11,300 have RSVP’d on Facebook as planning to attend, and more than 24,000 have expressed interest in going, officials said.
Cannon said the demonstrators are scheduled to meet in front of the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury at 10 a.m., and then they will march down Tremont Street to Boston Common, where the controversial free speech rally is being held.
Cannon said she’s already met with the Boston Police Department to go over the logistics and said she wished the city did more to prevent the free speech group from holding its event on the Common.
“I don’t believe that what they’re exuding is free speech,” Cannon said. “I believe it’s hate speech.”
Cannon said she wished the city had denied the group’s permit and forced them to go to court, so at least it would delay the event from happening.
“Granted, they may have won . . . but it would have delayed the process. I just feel if you really want to block that type of hatred from the city of Boston, you would have went to every extent to make sure that it didn’t happen.”
Cannon recalled how the city withheld a permit for a marijuana rally last year, and organizers of the event had to go to court to get an emergency order that forced the city of Boston to grant the permit.
“I don’t understand why [the mayor and city officials] didn’t do the same thing when it came to the hate speech that they plan to inject in our community,” she said.
Cannon encouraged people to attend the counterprotest.
“We can no longer sit and ignore these issues,” Cannon said. “Ignoring a problem has never made it go away. We don’t plan to ignore it, and we plan to send a really strong message that not in the city of Boston, you don’t get to come here and do this.”
Emily Sweeney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.