A New York man who was among 33 people arrested at Saturday’s “Free Speech” Rally and massive counterprotest on the Boston Common was wearing body armor and carrying a loaded handgun and four knives, police said Monday.
Nathan Mizrahi, 39, of Norwich, N.Y. was arrested after police confiscated the weapons, along with two tactical vests, according to a police report. At his arraignment Monday in Boston Municipal Court, he pleaded not guilty to a weapons violation, and was ordered held on $10,000 bail.
“Based on our observations, we believe that the individual arrested with the firearm may be associated with groups that were present to instigate and promote violence,” Boston Police spokesman Lieutenant Detective Michael McCarthy said.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh told WCVB-TV Sunday that “Boston police arrested three people who had bulletproof vests on, including one with a gun on him, and we believe they were white supremacists.”
Police seized Mizrahi’s vest when he arrived to the “Free Speech” Rally, and discovered the weapons later that afternoon. Mizrahi, a father of seven, was arrested shortly before 4 p.m. when he arrived at the downtown police station to retrieve his items. Mizrahi had a license to carry a firearm in New York, but not in Massachusetts, prosecutors said.
“Carrying a firearm into Massachusetts from any other state would not be legal,” said Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Alexa Wright.
Four of the people arrested Saturday had weapons, police said. More than a dozen people were arraigned Monday, with more to follow on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The cases arraigned today involved acts of violence or the imminent threat of violence, not speech, expression, or protest,” said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office.
Mizrahi’s girlfriend said she expected he would make bail, and denied prosecutors’ claims that he meant anyone harm.
“It’s crap,” said Holly Blake, 47, who traveled four hours from New York to attend his arraignment. “He wasn’t there to cause a fight.”
Blake said she and Mizrahi are cofounders of the Liberty State Militia and that he attended the rally to protect speaker Tammy Lee, a member of the American Freedom Keepers. That group seeks to “uphold the constitutional protection of all American’s right to free speech,” according to the group’s Facebook page.
Blake said she had planned to attend the rally, but decided to back out and tried to dissuade Mizrahi from attending.
A majority of the charges filed against demonstrators were for disorderly conduct, disturbing a public assembly, and resisting arrest. Trevor M. Carey, 24, of Shrewsbury, was charged with disorderly conduct after a protester alerted authorities that Carey was armed, a police report showed.
Carey, who wore a hat bearing President Trump’s campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again,” had his hand on his right hip while engaging in a political debate in a large group on the Common, according to police.
Carey disputed that account, saying he did not make any threats. Carey said he works as a security guard for the state Department of Transitional Assistance and has a Class A license to carry a firearm. He said he attended the rally because he “wanted to engage the other side” and that he had good debates with some protesters.
Others arraigned included Mohammed M. Eldeb, 23, a Somerville man who was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after allegedly striking an officer with a bottle.
Delroy Richardson, 25, who is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, said he participated in the counterprotest because he was “trying to do something good.”
“That was the best time I got locked up in my life,” Richardson said. “I felt good to be in that protest to show the president he doesn’t have to be like that . . . hyping these people [white supremacists] up. We’re all one.”
The organizer of the “Free Speech” Rally, John Medlar, expressed his frustrations that journalists and supporters were blocked from entering the rally.
“I was telling the officers to let the press in, but they were saying no press,” Medlar said.
“They did what they were obligated to do by the letter of the law,” he said of city officials who designed the security plan to separate the “Free Speech” demonstrators from counterprotesters. “Everything was done between the lines to keep what we were trying to say from getting out there.”
The rally was slated to last two hours, but ended in 45 minutes. The program was supposed to start with a reading of the Bill of Rights, but the group dispensed with that once they realized no one would be able to hear them.
“We are not going away, Medlar said. “You’re going to be hearing about us more.”
“People needed a chance to vent,” Medlar said of the counterprotest. “We seemed to be the fulcrum, even though it was a case of mistaken identity.”Mark Arsenault of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Jan Ransom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @Jan_Ransom.