Boston police want to keep things ‘safe and peaceful’ during controversial Straight Pride Parade

Kevin Hosford waved a pride flag during a counter event at City Hall Plaza in Boston on Saturday morning.
Kevin Hosford waved a pride flag during a counter event at City Hall Plaza in Boston on Saturday morning.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Boston police will set up checkpoints with metal detectors and conduct mandatory baggage checks on Boston’s City Hall Plaza during Saturday’s Straight Pride Parade and rally, which could draw dozens of supporters and hundreds of counterprotesters.

The parade is scheduled to start at Copley Plaza at noon, and participants will march along Boylston Street to Tremont Street. It is set to conclude with a rally on City Hall Plaza, according to Boston police. The event is scheduled to end by 4 p.m.

“Those in attendance at the event can expect a large police presence of both uniformed and undercover officers,’’ police said in a post on bpdnews.com. “The department will be deploying fixed video cameras and mobile video support teams to assist with keeping the event safe for all who attend.”


The event has been organized by Super Happy Fun America. The group has denied allegations from its critics that the parade or its organizers are bigoted, saying that some of the scheduled speakers are black and gay.

But one of the scheduled speakers is the leader of the Proud Boys, which the Anti-Defamation League describes as violent extremists who attended the August 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Parade organizer Mark Sahady is part of Resist Marxism, a group founded by an alt-right leader with a history of violence. That group helped organize the Boston “free speech” rally in 2017 that critics said attracted white nationalists. Sahady said he is Arab and condemns racism.

The LGBTQ community is divided over how to respond to the parade, the Globe reported Thursday, with some vowing to ignore it and others calling urging people to stand up against it.

Hundreds of counterprotesters have indicated on social media they plan to attend the parade.


Police wrote in their post that the department’s goal is “to ensure a safe and peaceful day.”

Security measures include a ban on parking in and around Copley Square, City Hall Plaza, and along the parade route. Signs will be installed warning against parking, police said. They will read: “No Stopping Boston Police Special Event.”

Police “strongly urged” anyone coming to the parade not to wear backpacks or bring baby strollers. Police also banned the following items in the parade area:

■  Firearms, knives, other weapons, sharp objects, shields, or fireworks.

■  Pop-up tents or canopies.

■  Cans, glass containers, pre-mixed beverages, or alcoholic beverages.

■  Wagons or pull carts.

■   Coolers.

■  Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, commonly known as drones.

■  Pets (excluding certified service animals).

■  Grills, propane tanks, or open flames.

■  Bicycles.

■  Flagpoles, bats, clubs, or sticks (including signs attached to sticks).

■  Any athletic equipment or other item that could be used as a weapon.

“The department intends to provide a safe and peaceful opportunity for people to exercise their constitutional rights,” police wrote. “Violence or property damage of any kind will not be tolerated. Anyone engaging in illegal behavior is subject to arrest and prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.