‘Not Patriotic': Community Leaders Brace for ‘Free Speech Rally'

Community groups in Boston are speaking out against a conservative "free speech rally" in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"It's not representative of America, it's not patriotic," said Anti-Defamation League Boston Regional Director Robert Treston.

"I think it's also important for us to be able to call out domestic terrorism when we see it," added NAACP Boston President Tanisha Sullivan.

As Boston braces for the conservative rally planned on the Boston Common Saturday, large counter-protests are also planned.

"I do think it is important for us to be mindful of the opinions that people may have, however vile they may be," said Sullivan.

The ACLU of Massachusetts – fiercely protective of free speech – also said in a statement that it "forcefully condemns racism, white nationalism, white supremacism and all forms of bigotry."

"We also condemn those who plan to perpetrate violence under the guise of exercising civil liberties," the statement read. "And we condemn President Donald Trump in encouraging — and, in his recent comments and tweets, implicitly supporting — those voices of hate and violence."

President Trump had initially criticized violence on "many sides," prompting criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike for failing to denounce the groups by name. But Monday afternoon, Trump condemned violent white supremacists as "criminals and thugs."

"Racism is evil," President Trump said, singling out the hate groups as "repugnant to everything that we hold dear as Americans."

"No one, from the president on down, should fear calling them out," said Trestan.

Boston's civic leaders are hopeful we won't see a repeat of some of the violence in Charlottesville on the Common this weekend.

"We cannot afford as a nation to move backwards, and we certainly will not allow this city to move backwards," Sullivan said.

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