A rally against the coronavirus safety measures of masks and vaccines on Boston Common Sunday attracted dozens of protesters and about twice as many counterprotesters.
The two sides clashed at least once, requiring police to break the sides up. Officers in riot gear were brought into the area where the protests and clashes were taking place.
It was organized by Super Happy Fun America, perhaps best known for organizing the controversial "Straight Pride" parade in 2019, and the Refounding Fathers Coalition. The event aimed to "resist vaccine passports, face diapers, mass layoffs, and unconstitutional mandates," the organizations said in an announcement ahead of the event.
They were ringed by police barricades. Among the counterprotesters on the other side was a brass band, and their goal was drown out the anti-mask and -vaccine protesters with music.
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Police had closed streets around Boston Common in preparation for the rally. There were hundreds of Boston police officers in the area before the rally started at noon.
Boston police said two people were arrested. Although charges were pending, police said charges of disorderly conduct were expected.
Boston EMS confirmed no one was transported to local hospitals but said a few people were treated on scene and then released with minor injuries.
The rally appeared to have wrapped up by 2 p.m.
Problems started early on in the rally, after the windshield of protesters' rental van was smashed and the van drove into barricades.
Nearby businesses were closed and Emerson College locked campus doors, warning students of potential problem.
Masks and vaccines have consistently been shown to be safe, effective ways at limiting the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 18,500 people in Massachusetts and more than 750,000 people nationwide.
The measures have been popular in Massachusetts, which is among the most vaccinated states in the country and where indoor mask use is common in public places. Seventy percent of the state's population is vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including about 81% of adults.
Anti-mask and anti-vaccine groups have been vocal about their opposition to the measures throughout the pandemic. The organizers of Sunday's event billed it as "Rise Against Tyranny."
The U.S. court system has long supported states' right to require vaccinations for its residents, dating back to a case that originated across the Charles River from Boston.
In 1905, the Supreme Court ruled in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts that the Board of Health of Cambridge was within its rights to require adults to get the smallpox vaccine.