Boston Protests Live Updates: Thousands Turn Out For, Against Free Speech Rally Post-Charlottesville

Update: 2:08 p.m. EST — The Free Speech Rally ended at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Boston, according to local police, as the focus turned to counter-protests. At least eight people had been arrested, though it wasn't clear why, CNN reported.

As the news unfolded, President Donald Trump tweeted not about Boston but about his recently departed strategist Steve Bannon.

"Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at @BreitbartNews...maybe even better than ever before. Fake News needs the competition!" Trump added.

Update: 12:57 p.m. EST — Activists and organizers with Saturday's Free Speech Rally in Boston reportedly left the downtown park where they were gathered after thousands of counter-protesters flooded the area.

NBC Boston reporter Rob Michaelson tweeted that "the rally cleared out," and the New York Times' Katharine Seelye wrote that police were taking down the free speech-themed flags. 

The rally was supposed to go until 2 p.m. local time.

Update: 12:47 p.m. EST — Several reporters indicated Saturday on social media that attendees of a Free Speech Rally at Boston Common were inaudible in comparison to the mass of counter-protesters who had also converged in the park. MassLive's Dan Glaun tweeted that the free speech activists were "completely drowned out," while Mic's Jack Smith wrote that the counter-protest was "perhaps the largest anti-racist protest this year." 

According to the Boston Globe, some 500 police officers were also on the scene. 

Update: 12:32 p.m. EST — An estimated 15,000 counter-protesters showed up Saturday at Boston Common to stifle a much-smaller Free Speech Rally scheduled for noon. And among the attendees was Vermin Supreme

Supreme, who famously wears a boot on his head, has repeatedly run for president and other government positions in recent years. His campaign promises often center around free ponies. 

Update: 12:18 p.m. EST — Want to watch as the Free Speech Rally and counter-protests unfold in Boston? See an aerial view here from CBS Boston, coverage on YouTube here from Right Side Broadcasting or a live stream below from USA Today.

Update: 12:12 p.m. EST — The Free Speech Rally in Boston was getting underway Saturday with a full slate of speeches. Big names on the lineup included Kyle Chapman, whom MassLive describes as an "alt-right meme and minor internet celebrity;" Joe Biggs, a former reporter for Alex Jones' Infowars; and Shiva Ayyadurai, a Republican Senate candidate. 

Reporters on scene said Boston Common was dominated more by counter-protesters than Free Speech Rally attendees.

Original story:

First, Charlottesville, Virginia. Now, Boston.

Activists, counter-protesters and police were converging Saturday morning in Massachusetts' largest city in advance of a planned Free Speech Rally expected to attract thousands of people. Coming just a week after similar demonstrations in Virginia over the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee ended in three deaths, officials were on high alert.

"We don’t want a repeat of what happened in Charlottesville," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told reporters Friday, according to the Washington Post. "Boston is too united. We have a city that doesn’t tolerate hatred and bigotry."

Roads around Boston Common, a public park downtown, were closed Saturday before the rally, which according to its Facebook page was organized by "a coalition of libertarians, progressives, conservatives and independents ... willing to peaceably engage in open dialogue about the threats to, and importance of, free speech and civil liberties." Counter-protesters had already shown up, with some chanting "hey hey, ho ho, white supremacy has got to go" and holding signs condemning the Ku Klux Klan and President Donald Trump, CNN reported.

The event was set to start at noon.

See photos below.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

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