3 people arrested at Boston "free speech" rally

 A participant of an Alt-Right organized free speech event holds a sign that says "No Antifa, No KKK, No Racist USA" on the Boston Common on November 18, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts

Scott Eisen / Getty

BOSTON -- A few dozen free speech advocates rallied peacefully Saturday on Boston Common but just like last summer's event, they were outnumbered by counter-protesters.

Boston police announced on Twitter that at least three people were arrested as of Saturday afternoon. Two were charged with disorderly conduct and a third for assault and battery on an officer, police said.

The "Rally for the Republic" event was held by conservative groups Resist Marxism and Boston Free Speech despite being denied a permit by the city. Police surrounded the gathering.

Rally speakers gathered at a bandstand on the Common warned that free speech was under threat and accused Antifa and Black Lives Matter groups of being terrorist organizations. White hats with the phrase, "RESIST MARXISM," were thrown into the crowd, many of whom wore pro-Trump apparel, and criticized the media and left-leaning groups for labeling them as hateful.

Alt-Right Organized Free Speech Event In Boston Met With Counter Protest

A participant of an Alt-Right organized free speech event holds his fist up on the Boston Common on November 18, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Scott Eisen / Getty

"I'm here because I support the ideas of free speech and the republic," said rally attendee Alex Moffett, 23, of Burlington, Massachusetts. "There are many people on the other side who believe their ideas are right and are perpetuating violence in the name of those rights." Moffett identifies as a Republican.

One of the speakers, Tammy Lee, said free speech needs to be "known, practiced and given to all."

"We, as a nation, are broken," Lee said. "We must begin to listen to each other, and not just look with our eyes and minds closed"

At least 100 counter-protesters showed up.

"It's really inspiring and awesome to be out here and to be with all these people who're rallying for a cause," said counter-protester Adrian Lee, 19, a sophomore at Boston University. "A lot of people label Antifa solely on their violence but don't realize that they're all out here for a good cause, too."

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 had been arrested.

Alt-Right Organized Free Speech Event In Boston Met With Counter Protest

Counter-protesters of an Alt-Right organized free speech event chant while standing against barricades set up by police to keep the groups apart on the Boston Common on November 18, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Scott Eisen / Getty

Rallygoer Brandon Navom, who claims he was fired from his job before the last free speech rally because his employers found out he planned to speak, described the August event as a "travesty."

"The government suppressed our peaceful gathering," said Navom, 37, of Williamstown. "I believe that societies which engage in discourse and spread logic and reason are peaceful societies."

No injuries were reported at Saturday's rally and counter-protest, and a total of three people were arrested -- two for disorderly conduct and the other for assaulting a police officer.

"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 to CBS Boston. "Their constant poise and professionalism never goes unnoticed and I thank them again for a job well done."