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Mayor Walsh, Police Determined To Prevent Violence At Free Speech Rally

BOSTON (CBS/AP) -- Boston Mayor Marty Walsh made a clear statement about his thoughts on a planned Free Speech Rally this Saturday, saying the city "rejects your message." What is unclear, is whether such a rally is occurring.

Walsh said he had only heard of plans for the Freedom of Speech rally on social media.

free speech rally poster
Poster for the August 19, "Free Speech Rally." (Photo credit: WBZ-TV)

Governor Charlie Baker, city leaders and Boston Police held a press conference Monday to share what they know about the reported rally and its organizers.

The main focus is to keep any possible rally peaceful while giving everyone their rights to free speech, he said.

"We also have a message to the hate groups, especially any that plan to come to our city this weekend," Walsh said.

"Boston does not welcome you here. Boston does not want you here. Boston rejects your message. We reject racism, we reject white supremacy,  we reject anti-Semitism, we reject the KKK, we reject neo-Nazis, we reject domestic terrorism, and reject hatred. We will do every single thing in our power to keep hate out of our city."

Police Commissioner Bill Evans said he was prepared for large crowds on the Common, despite the fact that no permits had been issued yet.

He added that it was in the group's best interest to issue a permit for the event, as a similar Free Speech group had in May.

"Most of these groups, these somewhat fringe groups, they want the police to know what they are doing because they have to be protected. If they don't tell us what we are doing, they are basically going to be out there in a very angry crowd," said Evans. "They know they are fair game if they don't have us protecting them."

If a permit was created, perimeters would be as well, he said. The rally would end quickly it if turned violent, Evans said.

"We have a good plan, we'll separate [opposing protesters] clearly. We'll have barriers, we'll have pedal bikes, we'll have plenty of assets to keep them at bay."

Evans continued, "It's just a matter of keeping them separated and we've done that in all our protests."

Organizers of Saturday's planned protest have dubbed it a "Boston Free Speech Rally" and have said they are not associated with the organizers of the Charlottesville rally.

Organizers also said late Monday that while some speakers have backed out, they will be proceeding with the rally. The group said in a Facebook post that they submitted a permit on July 13 "and it was city approved." They said the city and the Boston Police Department "are ignoring our calls."

Shiva Ayyadurai, a Republican candidate who says he invented email, was a scheduled speaker at the event.

"The establishment is the one that's created Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and the KKK and they use these groups to incite these events, and that aspect needs to be fully explored and we need to really investigate what occurred at that event," he said.

He hopes the Virginia rally does not stop the event in Boston. He also plans to hold a vigil for the Charlottesville victim in Cambridge Tuesday.

Shiva Ayyadurai (WBZ-TV)

The Anti-Defamation League and other groups sent a letter to the mayor asking him to postpone the rally until a comprehensive safety plan is in place.

Ivan Espinosa-Madrigal, with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice said, "If violence erupts in the common, which is at the heart of the downtown residential and commercial core, it can easily spread city-wide through public transit hubs that are nearby."

Over the weekend, a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville led to the death of one woman and injuries to 19 others.

"I want to be clear that there is no place here for that type of hatred--period-- that we saw in Virginia," said Governor Charlie Baker. "What happened in Charlottesville, simply put, was an act of terrorism. Where an individual sought to hurt people, and killed an innocent woman bystander, and tried to insight fear into a group of innocent people. As far as I'm concerned, that's terrorism."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens reports 

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

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