Right-wing protesters held a rally in Boston Common that they called a “free speech” event, but they were met by many, many more counter protesters.
How many protesters were there on either side of the dueling rallies? Photos, videos, and news reports made clear that many, many more counter protesters showed up.
ACLU Massachusetts reported on Twitter that counter protesters outnumbered the “free speech” rally protesters by “thousands.” The Associated Press estimated the counter protester crowd size at 15,000 people, according to ABC News.
Photos showed crowded streets in Boston of counter protesters, a much larger crowd than those holding the free speech rally, who reported they were “huddled” in a gazebo. Vox noted, “The dueling demonstrations on Boston Common showed a shocking disparity in size” and reported that only 100 people were permitted for the “free speech” rally. Vox estimated the counter protesters were conservatively 15 to 1 greater in number.
CNN also reported that there were thousands of counter demonstrators. Here’s an aerial view of the counter protests:
Here’s a view from inside the “free speech” protesters’ gazebo.
Some claimed the crowds were larger than those at Donald Trump’s inauguration. However, reported Factcheck.org, “no one has scientifically calculated estimates of the crowd size for Trump’s inauguration. Congress has prohibited the National Park Service from making official estimates after it produced an official estimate that 460,000 turned out for the so-called ‘Million Man March’ in 1995, prompting organizers to threaten a lawsuit.” The national mall can hold many, many more people than appear to have been in Boston, but the actual number of people who went to the Trump inauguration has never been certain.
That’s despite exhaustive efforts to try. CNN reported that image comparisons of Trump’s inauguration crowd size and Obama’s “show a significantly smaller crowd on the National Mall for Trump than for Obama. There is empty ground exposed in the Trump photos. The same spots were almost entirely covered eight years ago, when estimates at the time suggested 1.8 million people attended the inauguration. The images above do not capture people who might have viewed from the west side of the Washington monument. And there are some differences. The grass on the mall is covered in white plastic for Trump’s inauguration, but not for Obama’s.” However, noted CNN “The photo of Trump’s inauguration was taken from television during his speech — peak time for the crowd. The photo of Obama’s inauguration was taken by Getty and doesn’t indicate the time, but Trump’s should represent his largest audience.”
That aside, one thing was clear in Boston on August 19: There were definitely way more counter protesters there.
The counter protesters were galvanized by the horrors in Charlottesville, where an accused Hitler admirer, James Alex Fields, allegedly rammed a car into a crowd of people protesting a rally that included white supremacists and Nazis there. Heyer was killed and others were injured. Since that time, President Donald Trump was criticized for not immediately calling out the Nazis who came to Charlottesville, and for saying there were good and bad people on both sides when he did do so. CNN reports that the organizers of the Boston “free speech” rally tried to distance themselves from the Charlottesville situation.
Counter protesters packed the streets in Boston, where nine people were arrested, according to CNN, and crowds started to disburse fairly quickly.
The protest was over pretty quickly, and counter protesters lingered after it ended.