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Boston anti-fascists hold rally in response to ‘straight pride’ parade, police brutality and judicial overreach



“What we witnessed was a testament to the easy triumph of fascism and how the state was against us,” said Catherine, a Boston area high school student.

The Boston Anti-Nazi Network held a protest outside the Boston City Hall on Saturday, one week after Boston Police Department (BPD) assaulted and arrested protesters at the the so-called “straight pride” parade.

The organizers write:

Mayor Marty Walsh handed the alt-right a permit to march down the streets of Boston in a “Straight Pride Parade.” He also gave police forces from all over the state – as well as the FBI and National Guard – the green-light to attack peaceful LGBTQ+ counter-protesters. Bearing “Blue Lives Matter” flags, they targeted medics, marshalls, and press in a calculated attempt to protect the white nationalists, who called for the forced removal of immigrants, a return to sexual “normalcy,” and Trumps re-election, among other things.

The results of the action, while terrifying, are ultimately unsurprising. There is documented evidence that a large portion of the BPD is, in fact, part of the alt-right. And over the past few years, we have seen the militarization of black and brown communities progressively escalate – countless ICE raids have taken place in Walsh’s “Sanctuary City,” and just last month, Operation ‘Clean Sweep’ brutalized multiple folks experiencing homelessness and put them behind bars.

It is time to hold Mayor Walsh and the BPD accountable for their actions.

At the rally the following demands were made:

  • DROP THE CHARGES: The courts and city are trying to make an example of anyone arrested by way of bogus charges and outrageous punitive measures. Anti-facism is not a crime!
  • RESIGNATION OF JOHN DANILECKI: Captain Danilecki of the Boston Police Department Bike Unit is one of the top 50 paid public employees in Boston as of 2016 ($315,750.29/year), and spearheaded the brutality that we saw last Saturday.
  • RESIGNATION OF THOMAS HORGAN: Out of the 36 protestors arraigned this week, three were ordered by Judge Thomas Horgan to “stay out of Boston,” under threat of arrest. He didn’t explain his reasoning, but we know why he did it. The State and its agents will continue to uphold white nationalism unless we FIGHT BACK.
  • END THE MILITARIZATION OF BLACK AND BROWN COMMUNITIES: We stand firmly against gentrification, against the criminalization of poverty and homelessness, against the long legacies of violence left behind by Jim Crow loitering laws, and against the War on Drugs.

Joey, from the Democratic Socialists of America, spoke of his experiences during the events of last Saturday, including the point at which he was assaulted by BPD Captain John Danilecki.

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“I’m a local activist and I love the City of Boston and its community members,” said Maya. “I was also a participant in the counter demonstration for the straight pride parade on August 31. The Mayor and right-wing media would like you to believe that we are a group of thus who invaded this city and beat up people for fun, much like the Gestapo goons of the Boston Police Department.

“The Mayor would like you to believe that we are a group of hateful people out to cause harm to others and intimidate vulnerable people, much like the straight pride folks who have ties to white nationalist hate groups as well as Charlottesville.

“In reality, we are a group of people from Boston and surrounding areas who see the threat from the far-right nationalists as an impending threat to us all.

“In reality we are a group of people from Boston and surrounding areas who witness multiple mass shootings by white men with far-right ties, and we fear for communities that resemble, in any way, those targeted and attacked…”

“Last weekend my friends and I came to the counter protest,” said Catherine, an 11th grader at Brookline High School. “We witnessed what seemed to be the police leading the parade, and making sure the [straight pride] protesters were made comfortable.”

Antifascists were treated very differently, said Catherine. Police “spent multiple minutes checking my friend of color’s bag, asking for ID, while I got through in seconds. My friends and I were yelled at and threatened with arrest if we didn’t get on the steps over there of City Hall Plaza, the same steps that were already barricaded and blocked off.

“We were 16, some of us as young as 13. There was nowhere for us to move, or any possibility of us attempting what we had established as our safety plan. We were kenneled, pepper sprayed and witnessed multiple arrests…

“What we witnessed was a testament to the easy triumph of fascism and how the state was against us…”

Next are two statements from people unable to attend the event due to the orders of Judge Thomas Horgan, who banned them from the City pending resolution of their charges.

The Police decided that it would be a “good idea to poke and prod at us,” said Maddie. “Start pulling people out of the crowd, start taking people down, showing them off to us as they were arresting them for doing nothing but standing in the public garden…”

“To stand against injustice at this moment requires firmly understanding that the attacks against antifa are designed to intimidate, suppress and divide all opposition to fascism,” said Scott Gilbert of “The threats and attacks against antifa and anyone else standing up against fascism, especially attempts by the state to brand them as terrorists, or put them on watch lists… all of this must be opposed.”

More from the organizer:

What can be done in Boston to continue the fight:

A call to support a recently started hotel strike in Boston:

The event began with a series of chants:

“Back off, back off, we want freedom, freedom, all these racist ass cops, we don’t need ’em, need ’em!”

“No walls, no KKK, no fascist USA!”

“Drop the charges!”

“Money for transpo! Not Police! Money for schools! Not Police! Money for houses! Not Police! Money for health care! Not Police!”

“No justice, no peace! Police get off our streets! You brought the whole Klan but forgot your sheets!”

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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.