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3 Arrested As 'Free Speech Rally' Returns To Boston Common

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Three people were arrested and one police officer suffered minor injuries as free speech advocates whose rally on Boston Common last summer drew boisterous counter-protesters regrouped there on Saturday.

The conservative groups Resist Marxism and Boston Free Speech gathered at an event on the Common despite being denied a permit they had sought from the city. With American flags in hand, several chanted "USA! USA!" and "Free speech! Free speech!"

Several counter-protest groups also arrived in the area of the rally. The number, however, was significantly smaller than the previous Free Speech Rally.

Two people were charged with disorderly conduct and a third for assault and battery on a police officer.

Protesters gather near Boston Common during a Free Speech Rally. (Image Credit: Paul Burton/WBZ)

Organizers planned the "Rally for the Republic" event after angry counter-protesters overwhelmed a similar rally in August.

A heavy Boston Police presence was on hand for the event. Barriers separated protesters and counter-protesters near the Parkman Bandstand, where speakers were located. One "Rally for the Republic" participant said he joined Saturday's event to promote the right to free speech.

"We want to be out here and say that we can say what we want to say. You want to be able to say that you're pro-Trump without getting maced in the face," the man said.

Meanwhile, Shira Tiffany said she attended the event to stand with Black Lives Matter and with all people who are oppressed.

Protesters and counter-protesters exchange words on Boston Common. (WBZ-TV)

Participants began to disperse around 2:30 p.m.

"From a public safety perspective, today's event on Boston Common couldn't have gone much better and I certainly have my officers to thank for that," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said in a statement. "Their constant poise and professionalism never goes unnoticed and I thank them again for a job well done."

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the city asked the rally organizers to move the event to Sunday due to a road race in Boston on Saturday, but the group refused.

Resist Marxism has denounced white supremacism repeatedly and publicly. But the August rally came shortly after deadly violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, and it drew thousands who said they feared white nationalists might show up anyway.

Some clashed with police, and more than 30 were arrested.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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