The mayor of Boston slammed the “cowardly” masked members of the white supremacist Patriot Front after a surprise march Saturday along the legendary “Freedom Trail” of sites that played a historic role in America’s independence.
At least one skirmish broke out when members of the crowd appeared to pounce on a harassing black bystander, the Boston Herald reported.
Police first learned of the event after noon when the crowd gathered downtown, Channel 10, a Boston NBC affiliate, reported.
About 100 members, dressed in the Patriot Front’s beige khaki pants and blue shirt uniforms, unloaded shields and flags from a rented truck in Haymarket Square, the Herald and CBS Boston reported. Some flags were American, at least one was an upside-down American flag, and others appeared to contain a fascist symbol, the paper said.
The protesters wore white bandanas that covered their faces and sunglasses, obscuring their identities, and beige baseball caps. They reportedly handed out flyers at the city’s public library announcing themselves as members of the Patriot Front.
Mayor Michelle Wu responded on Twitter: “To the white supremacists running downtown today, when we march, we don’t hide our faces. Your hatred is as cowardly as it is disgusting, and it goes against everything Boston stands for.”
She later told CBS that the “disgusting, hateful actions and words of white supremacist groups are not welcome in this city. Especially at a time when so many of our rights are under attack, we will not normalize intimidation by bigots.”
On a July 4 holiday weekend, as “we remember Boston’s legacy as the cradle of freedom, we celebrate the ongoing struggle to extend those freedoms for all and ensure that Boston will be a city for all,” she added.
“I am furious and disgusted by the white supremacist group protesting in Boston today,” City Council chairman Ed Flynn tweeted.
“To be crucial to invoke hatred and intimidation when we see itteach children about horrors of the past and stand with the Jewish community, our immigrant neighbors and communities of color.”
Last month, 31 members of the Patriot Front, packed in a U-Haul rental car with face shields and armored vests, were rounded up by the Coeur D’Alene Police Department in Idaho, where they were en route to “riot” during a Pride fight. event in the center, according to officials. Among them was the group’s neo-Nazi founder, 23-year-old Thomas Ryan Rousseau of Texas, who formed the group after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
The gang’s attack on the Pride event was meticulously planned and spurred on by the Republican Party’s growing enthusiasm for the LGBTQ community.
The Anti-Defamation League calls the Patriot Front one of the country’s most visible and brutal white supremacist groups, known for launching “flash rallies” in several communities.