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No permit, no problem: ‘Free speech’ rally coming to Common Saturday

The ‘free speech’ rally on Boston Common in August was overwhelmed with counter-protesters.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File

A controversial free speech rally will go off as scheduled at noon Saturday on Boston Common no matter the weather, organizers said.

In a statement posted late Wednesday night to Facebook, a group calling itself Resist Marxism, an umbrella organization putting on the event, said the “Rally for the Republic will take place on the Boston Common at noon. The perils facing our Constitutional Republic don’t slow down for the weather, and neither will we. Rain or shine.”

The group didn’t immediately respond to a request for further comment.

The organization will hold the rally despite being denied a city permit for the demonstration, which critics say will provide a forum for white supremacists, a charge the group adamantly denies.


“The organizers of this peaceable assembly seek to exercise our First Amendment rights, celebrate our country that we all share, have some patriotic speeches, and go home,” Resist Marxism said. “We beseech the people who will be protesting against the republic to please keep the peace, and reject the radicals who call for violence.”

A prior free speech rally held in August on the Common was overwhelmed by counterprotesters.

That demonstration occurred just a week after a deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., where white nationalists clashed with counterprotesters, one of whom was killed.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s office referred questions to Boston police Thursday.

Lieutenant Detective Michael McCarthy, a department spokesman, said in an e-mail that police have “been in contact with organizers from all events planned for the Common this weekend. We will have adequate resources in place to ensure that all events are safe. We do not anticipate any issues.”

City officials said last month that authorities would not stop Saturday’s rally from going forward but will bar organizers from bringing sound amplification.

Walsh has said the group was denied a permit because Camp Harbor View, which serves at-risk youth in Boston every summer, had been issued a permit back in March for the same day, to hold a large fund-raiser with a family walk and run on the Common.


He said Resist Marxism was offered a permit for Sunday instead.

Resist Marxism organizers say that by the time that option was put to them, flight and hotel arrangements had already been made and it was too late to cancel.

The event will be held near the Parkman Bandstand on the Common. Among the speakers scheduled to address the rally is Kyle Chapman, according to a Resist Marxism statement posted to its website.

Chapman gained notoriety after a video went viral of him smashing a wooden post over the head of an antifascist protester at a march for President Trump in Berkeley, Calif. Chapman had been slated to speak at the August rally in Boston until he pulled out.

In a related development, another scheduled speaker at the rally, Pittsfield attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo III, on Wednesday filed a motion in federal court in Springfield for an injunction against Boston officials to ensure the organizers’ rights are protected.

Del Gallo, a self-declared progressive who says in court papers that he’s not a Marxist but backs “socialistic states such as Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Sweden,” wants a judge to order Boston officials to grant a permit for the Saturday rally.

He’s also seeking an order allowing all speakers to address the crowd without interference, the media to cover the event without restrictions, and the organizers to amplify speeches, as well as a directive that police stop amplification of any sounds meant to drown out the speeches, among other provisions.


Lawyers for the city countered in a response filing Thursday that no injunction was necessary.

They wrote that Del Gallo “never requested a permit from the city, the city has committed to not preventing [Del Gallo] from speaking on Boston Common and using amplification to do so, and the city has committed to not preventing members of the press from attending any rally or similar gathering on the Boston Common.”

The ACLU of Massachusetts and two press freedom groups have also entered the fray.

They said Thursday in a court filing in Del Gallo’s lawsuit that the “exclusion of journalists from the barricaded area” during the August rally “was improper.”

The groups, which included the New England First Amendment Coalition and the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, added that “this court should ensure that the exclusion of journalists will not recur — and that journalists will instead be afforded comprehensive and close-up access — at the rally reportedly planned for the Boston Common on Nov. 18.”

Matthew Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, echoed those sentiments in a separate statement.

“Reasonable security measures are critical to any public event, but those measures must not infringe on First Amendment rights,” Segal said. “Changes need to be made to the city of Boston’s policies and procedures so the press has access to public demonstrations and can adequately cover them. Journalists must not be excluded from public events.”


A hearing on the injunction request is scheduled for Friday morning.

Evan Allen and Laura Crimaldi of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.