BOSTON — It was an active afternoon across from the Statehouse on Beacon Street as two demonstrations played out within feet of each other. A small group held what it called a pro-police rally and were met with hundreds of counterprotesters who held signs saying “Black Lives Matter and “I can’t breathe.”
The first group to arrive were part of the “Restore Sanity” rally, it was promoted as a way to support police in the wake of numerous local and national protests following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. “Restore Sanity” was organized by Super Happy Fun America, the same group that put together last year’s “straight pride” parade in Boston that led to outrage among members of the gay community.
“We’re sick of the false narrative being portrayed against police. It’s absolutely not true, they are not hunting black people down,” said John Hugo, President of Super Happy Fun America.
Several people on the “Restore Sanity” side wore black T-shirts with National Socialist Club, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls one of the largest and most prominent neo-Nazi groups in the United States. Others held signs supporting President Donald Trump.
The organizers of Saturday’s counterprotest, Solidarity Against Hate-Boston, called on residents to show up and oppose the rally, which they viewed as opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement seeking an end to the killing of unarmed Black Americans by police.
Most of their energy was focused on drowning-out speakers on the other side of Beacon Street, but some chants were aimed toward Boston Police who stood in the middle of Beacon Street’s barricades, between the groups.
“I just don’t like the racism, we just want peace,” said Claudia Tavares, of Brockton, who was attending her fifth protest in support of Black Lives Matter.
Boston Police stepped in more than once when counterprotesters jumped the barricades and began moving toward the other group.
A spokesperson for Boston Police said there were no arrests, serious injuries or reports of property damage following the Beacon Street demonstrations.
The Statehouse demonstrations were among several events held across Boston.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
© 2020 Cox Media Group