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Screengrab via CBS News/YouTube

One image sums up how tiny and pathetic turnout was for Boston’s ‘free speech’ rally

Counterprotesters, though, did not disappoint.


Chris Tognotti


Posted on Aug 20, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 8:00 pm CDT

On Saturday, tens of thousands of counterprotesters descended on the Boston Commons in response to a “free speech” rally being held by dozens of far-right demonstrators just one week after the white supremacist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

And if there was an indelible image from the protests, it’s probably the viral one below, showing just how outnumbered and overwhelmed the tiny group of rallygoers were—so much so they could all fit in a gazebo.

Given the past week’s white supremacist violence and the president’s “all sides”-blaming rhetoric, it’s fair to say that many were relieved, tickled even, to see how relatively pitiful far-right attendance was at the Boston rally.

While the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville were well-attended and loud enough to make a harrowing impression―as did the killing of 32-year-old activist Heather Heyer, and the reported injuring of 20 others―all the scrutiny leading up to the Boston rally clearly energized huge swaths of people to turn out against racism, and drown it out too.

Local law enforcement maintained a fairly wide, secure perimeter around the gazebo, so to prevent any violent clashes or confrontations from taking place. Ultimately, the rally reportedly ended about an hour ahead of schedule, which may have had something to do with the fact that they were flanked on all sides by tens of thousands of anti-white-supremacist protesters.

There are a couple more far-right demonstrations planned for next week, in the historically liberal Bay Area cities of Berkeley and San Francisco. While there’s no guarantee if they’ll look more like the chaos of Charlottesville or the relative peace of Boston, both rallies are likely to be heavily scrutinized events. No word, however, on whether gazebos full of cowering neo-Nazis will be involved.

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*First Published: Aug 20, 2017, 3:15 pm CDT