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Organizers of Boston ‘free speech’ rally are planning another one

Counterprotesters stood at the edge of a barricade as a "free speech" rally took place inside the Boston Common bandstand on Aug. 19.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File

The organizers of last month’s free speech rally on Boston Common that set off a national media storm and prompted 40,000 counterprotesters are gearing up for another demonstration this fall.

The Boston Free Speech Coalition announced on its Facebook page this week that it will host another rally in November.

“Planning for November,’’ the post said. “More details within next couple weeks.’’

John Medlar, spokesman for the group, said the event’s theme will be “Defending Free Speech.”

He told the Globe that the group — which is also called the New Free Speech Movement — intends to have one more rally, likely on the Common, before winter and has started the permitting process with the city.


Medlar, a student at Fitchburg State University, said the coalition has been reaching out to “civil liberties and patriot groups” to co-sponsor and provide speakers at the event, adding that the goal is to take “what we’ve learned from the first two rallies and build on our experience.”

Tanisha Sullivan, president of the local branch of the NAACP, said her group would not participate if invited and noted that some of the group’s previous speakers — including those with known white nationalist ties — were not ones with which the NAACP would align.

“We absolutely support freedom of speech,’’ Sullivan said. “However, we are not going to amplify speech that will divide us rather than unite us. Our participation would help to legitimize a group that we believe is not reflective of racial justice values.”

The Aug. 20 rally on Boston Common drew about 50 participants who were confronted with a massive demonstration against white supremacy.

The rally organizers said they are promoting an open dialogue, but civil rights groups said the coalition was only giving a platform to people who espouse racial hatred and violence.


Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com.