Multiple civil and minority rights organizations are calling for an emergency meeting with Mayor Martin J. Walsh and police in hopes of staving off Saturday’s”Free Speech Rally” on Boston Common.

In a letter sent to the mayor this morning, more than a half-dozen groups — including the Anti-Defamation League, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice and the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers — are appealing to city officials to postpone the five-hour event due to safety concerns arising from this past Saturday’s deadly events at a “Unite the Right” rally by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va.

Walsh said he would respond to the letter and determine what steps to take after meeting with police and with his staff later today and learning more about exactly what type of gathering is planned for this weekend.

“We don’t even know who this group is, we are not sure if it’s multiple groups at this point,” the mayor told reporters in Roxbury. “The noise on social media, people are all over the place, there’s all kinds of counter-protests and protests going on here. So, rather than have all kinds of confusion, we want to get this under control.”

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Contrary to initial reports, one of the speakers involved with Saturday’s Boston event said the organizer of the Charlottesville event that turned deadly is not behind the Boston gathering. Walsh’s office has said no one representing the Boston Free Speech Rally has pulled permits as of yesterday for the event, which has been advertised in flyers circulating and billed as a five-hour affair kicking off at noon.

“The group that was in Virginia, we don’t want them in Boston, we don’t want any part of them in Boston, I don’t want to see them here, I completely disagree with everything they stand for,” Walsh said today. “If it’s a different group, we have to see who that group is, have they pulled permits in the past, are they doing the same kind of of thing, so it’s a fluid situation here.”

Walsh said President Trump should strike a similar tone when it comes to hate groups.

“He should let them know they are not welcome in America,” the mayor said, “the white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups are dividing our country and he needs to take a tough stand on that and let them know.”

A woman was killed and 19 others injured when a 20-year-old Ohio man allegedly plowed a car into a gathering of counter-protesters.

“A safety plan is critical in the light of the urban conditions associated with the Boston Common and surrounding neighborhoods,” this morning’s letter, also signed by the Boston Society of Vulcans, Sociedad Latina, the Hyde Square Task Force and Centro Presente, reads.

“Any violence that erupts in the Boston Common or on the busy city streets would directly affect the heart of the city, including the downtown residential and commercial core. Since the Boston Common lies near major public transit hubs, including two subway stops directly in the park and additional stops on the proposed march route, violence could easily spread citywide.”

The groups suggest to Walsh that “it would be prudent for the city to take time to develop an appropriate safety plan, and to release pertinent information about the safety plan to the general public, including concerned residents represented by the undersigned organizations.

“Finally,” the letter concludes, “we jointed request an emergency meeting with you and the city’s relevant public safety officials to discuss this urgent matter.”

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(c)2017 the Boston Herald

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