Metro

Scores gather for antifascism rally on Boston Common

Tom Olbert of Cambridge held a sign during a rally on Boston Common Saturday.
Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff
Tom Olbert of Cambridge held a sign during the rally on Boston Common.

Scores of protesters gathered at the Parkman Bandstand late Saturday afternoon to protest President Trump and the rise of what they described as fascism in the United States.

They waived signs that read “NO ALT RIGHT, NO KKK, NO FASCIST USA” and “Capitalism Generates Fascism,” and after about an hour and a half of speeches, began marching through Boston Common and Downtown Crossing.

“To me, it seems pretty obvious that the country is headed in the completely wrong direction,” said Ira Yedlin, who participated in the rally and was visiting Boston from Arizona. “There’s an obvious rise in Nazism, white supremacists. They’re all coming out into the open and the idiot in the White House is encouraging all of this.”

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The event was organized by a group called Refuse Fascism, and coincided with 20 similar rallies across the United States, including ones in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

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The group was issued a permit for the Boston event, according to Nicole Caravella, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

“It’s about getting people to see that this really is fascist,” said organizer Scott Gilbert, referring to the Trump administration. Gilbert drew a parallel between today’s political climate and that of 1930s Germany, and warned of complacency by citizens.

The rally was intended to kick off an upswell of political pressure to force the removal of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. On Saturday, the crowd started small but eventually grew to nearly 100 people. Some counterprotesters arrived, and several arguments broke out but ended without arrests. Speakers ignored the skirmishes.

John Medlar, who organized a controversial Free Speech rally in Boston in August that many criticized for being a platform for racists, attended Saturday night’s rally. He noted that unlike his event, which was heavily policed and effectively drowned out by tens of thousands of counterprotesters, Saturday’s rally was allowed to proceed unfettered.

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“When we come into town and have one of our own rallies, everyone freaks out and they feel they have to separate everybody,” he said.

Saturday’s event began with political songs by local folk singer Rachel Schachter, who performs under the name Rachel Marie. Several people spoke, including Emmanuel “Manny” Lusardi, liaison for immigrant affairs in the Cambridge vice mayor’s office.

“The fascism and hate that is coming out of the White House is unprecedented,” he said.

Attendees said they were compelled to come because of what they were witnessing in America. Mike Bresnahan, who works in the Lawrence Public Schools, said he has seen rising fear among his Latino students. He sees lessons in perseverance for today in the protests that flared up early in the Iraq war.

“Had those people stayed [protesting] all over the country, we might have been able to stop that catastrophe,” he said.

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Similar rallies were listed on social media for Falmouth and Pittsfield on Saturday.

Police in Falmouth could not confirm that the rally there had happened but said no problems had been reported. Pittsfield police said the rally there had been “uneventful.” The Berkshire Eagle reported about two dozen people attended the Pittsfield event.

Amy Araujo of Boston and Mike Bresnahan of Lawrence during an antifascism rally.
Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff
Amy Araujo of Boston and Mike Bresnahan of Lawrence during an antifascism rally.

Jacob Carozza can be reached at jacob.carozza@globe.com. Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.