Thousands turn out in Boston to march against hate speech
Thousands turn out in Boston to march against hate speech
Organizers of the rally had invited several far-right speakers who were confined to a small pen that police set up in the historic Boston Common park to keep the two sides separate. The city largely avoided a repeat of last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where there were bloody street battles and one woman was killed.
The rally never numbered more than a few dozen people, and its speakers could not be heard over the shouts of those protesting it and due to the wide security cordon between the two sides.
Protesters surrounded people leaving the rally, shouting “shame” at them and occasionally throwing plastic water bottles. Police escorted several rally participants through the crowds, sometimes struggling against protesters who tried to stop them.
A Reuters photographer saw multiple marchers arrested.
Two male rally participants wearing Trump’s red “Make America Great Again” campaign hats attempted to enter penned-in protest area. They were swarmed by black-clad protesters, some with their faces covered, as the crowd screamed “go home” and “no hate” at them.
“They heard our message loud and clear: Boston will not tolerate hate,” said Owen Toney, a 58-year-old community activist who attended the anti-racism protest. “I think they’ll think again about coming here.”
Some 500 police officers had placed barricades, including large white dump trucks, to prevent vehicles from entering the park, the nation’s oldest.
Last weekend’s clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one woman was killed in a car rampage after bloody street battles, ratcheted up racial tensions already inflamed by white supremacist groups marching more openly in rallies across the United States.
White nationalists had converged in the Southern university city to defend a statue of Robert E. Lee, who led the pro-slavery Confederacy’s army during the Civil War, which ended in 1865.
A growing number of US political leaders have called for the removal of statues honoring the Confederacy, with civil rights activists charging that they promote racism. Advocates of the statues contend they are a reminder of their heritage.
Duke University removed a statue of Lee from the entrance of a chapel on its Durham, North Carolina campus, officials said on Saturday.
Organizers of Saturday’s rally in Boston have denounced the white supremacist message and violence of Charlottesville and said their event would be peaceful.
“The point of this is to have political speech from across the spectrum, conservative, libertarian, centrist,” said Chris Hood, an 18-year-old Boston resident who stood among a crowd of a few dozen people who joined the Free Speech rally. “This is not about Nazis. If there were Nazis here, I’d be protesting against them.”
The violence in Charlottesville triggered the biggest domestic crisis yet for US President Donald Trump, who provoked ire across the political spectrum for not immediately condemning white nationalists and for praising “very fine people” on both sides of the fight.
Beyond the Boston rally and march, protests are also expected on Saturday in Texas, with the Houston chapter of Black Lives Matter holding a rally to remove a “Spirit of the Confederacy” monument from a park and civil rights activists in Dallas planning a rally against white supremacy.
Protesters reject plea
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh had asked protesters to avoid Boston Common, saying their presence would draw more attention to the far-right activists. He joined the crowd of thousands assembling in Boston’s historically black Roxbury neighborhood early on Saturday.
“These signs and the message so far this morning is all about love and peace,” Walsh told reporters. “That’s a good message.”
Monica Cannon, an organizer of the “Fight White Supremacy” march, said it was a necessary move.
“Ignoring a problem has never solved it,” Cannon said in a phone interview. “We cannot continue to ignore racism.”
The Free Speech rally’s scheduled speakers included Kyle Chapman, a California activist who was arrested at a Berkeley rally earlier this year that turned violent, and Joe Biggs, formerly of the right-wing conspiracy site Infowars. It was not immediately clear if either ended up speaking.
Antonio Vargas, a 20-year-old student at Gordon College, joined the protest march.
“I believe in equality,” Vargas said. “I believe race shouldn’t define the pattern of your life or the result of your life.
“There also is a time to stand up and not be silent.”
US to withdraw from UN rights council: UN officials
- Washington accuses UN Human Rights Council of bias against Israel.
- UN rights chief: "The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable".
UNITED NATIONS: The United States will announce on Tuesday that it is withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, which it accuses of bias against Israel, UN officials said.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley will make the announcement at a press conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington at 5:00 p.m. (2100 GMT).
Haley has repeatedly threatened to quit the Geneva-based body, established in 2006 to promote and protect human rights worldwide.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric declined to comment ahead of the announcement, saying: “We will wait to hear the details of that decision before commenting fully.”
“What is clear, is that the secretary-general is a strong believer in the human rights architecture of the UN and the active participation of all member states in that architecture.”
UN officials privately confirmed they were expecting the US decision to quit the rights body.
The withdrawal followed strong UN criticism of Trump’s policy to separate migrant children from their families at the US-Mexico border.
UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Monday “the thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable.”
Human Rights Watch criticized the move, warning that Washington’s absence at the top UN body would put the onus on other governments to address the world’s most serious rights problems.
“The Trump administration’s withdrawal is a sad reflection of its one-dimensional human rights policy: defending Israeli abuses from criticism takes precedence above all else,” said HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth.
“The UN Human Rights Council has played an important role in such countries as North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan, but all Trump seems to care about is defending Israel.”
US criticism stems from the fact that Israel is the only country that has a dedicated agenda item, known as Item 7, at the rights council, meaning its treatment of the Palestinians comes under scrutiny at each of the body’s three annual sessions.
The United Stated refused to join the body when it was created in 2006, when George W. Bush was in the White House and his ambassador to the UN was John Bolton, Trump’s current hawkish and UN-skeptic national security adviser.
It was only after Barack Obama came to power that Washington joined the council in 2009.
Since Trump took office, the United States has quit the UN cultural agency UNESCO, cut UN funding and announced plans to quit the UN-backed Paris climate agreement.