Massive counterprotest upstages Boston "free speech rally"

Organizers depart a "Free Speech" rally staged by conservative activists on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston.  One of the planned spe

Organizers depart a "Free Speech" rally staged by conservative activists on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. One of the planned spe

A man wearing a T-shirt bearing the name of President Donald Trump, right, is hit by a flying plastic bottle of water near a "Free Speech" rally stage

A man wearing a T-shirt bearing the name of President Donald Trump, right, is hit by a flying plastic bottle of water near a "Free Speech" rally stage

Counterprotesters stand on the periphery of a "Free Speech" rally staged by conservative activists on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Bosto

Counterprotesters stand on the periphery of a "Free Speech" rally staged by conservative activists on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Bosto

A counterprotester, left, confronts a supporter of President Donald Trump at a "Free Speech" rally by conservative activists on Boston Common, Saturda

A counterprotester, left, confronts a supporter of President Donald Trump at a "Free Speech" rally by conservative activists on Boston Common, Saturda

Counterprotesters hold signs and chant at the Statehouse before a planned "Free Speech" rally by conservative organizers begin on the adjacent Boston

Counterprotesters hold signs and chant at the Statehouse before a planned "Free Speech" rally by conservative organizers begin on the adjacent Boston

State and city police inspect people arriving for a "Free Speech" rally on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. The permit for the rally

State and city police inspect people arriving for a "Free Speech" rally on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. The permit for the rally

Former Boston Celtics star Cedric Maxwell stands on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. Maxwell, a current member of the Celtics radio

Former Boston Celtics star Cedric Maxwell stands on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. Maxwell, a current member of the Celtics radio

Counterprotesters, rear, listen to a conservative activist, right, before a planned "Free Speech" rally on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in

Counterprotesters, rear, listen to a conservative activist, right, before a planned "Free Speech" rally on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in

Counterprotesters hold signs before conservative organizers begin a planned "Free Speech" rally on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston.

Counterprotesters hold signs before conservative organizers begin a planned "Free Speech" rally on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston.

Counterprotesters holds signs at a "Free Speech" rally by conservative activists on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. Thousands of co

Counterprotesters holds signs at a "Free Speech" rally by conservative activists on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. Thousands of co

A supporter of President Donald Trump, center, argues with a counterprotester, left, at a "Free Speech" rally by conservative activists on Boston Comm

A supporter of President Donald Trump, center, argues with a counterprotester, left, at a "Free Speech" rally by conservative activists on Boston Comm

A counterprotester holds a photo of Heather Heyer on Boston Common at a "Free Speech" rally organized by conservative activists, Saturday, Aug. 19, 20

A counterprotester holds a photo of Heather Heyer on Boston Common at a "Free Speech" rally organized by conservative activists, Saturday, Aug. 19, 20

CORRECTS ACTIVITY OF POLICE TO PROVIDING EXIT LANE - State and local police stand amid counterprotesters to provide a lane for organizers to leave Bos

CORRECTS ACTIVITY OF POLICE TO PROVIDING EXIT LANE - State and local police stand amid counterprotesters to provide a lane for organizers to leave Bos

Counterprotesters hold signs at a "Free Speech" rally by conservative activists on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston.  Thousands of de

Counterprotesters hold signs at a "Free Speech" rally by conservative activists on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. Thousands of de

Police escort away a counterprotester near a "Free Speech" rally staged by conservative activists, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. An estimated 15

Police escort away a counterprotester near a "Free Speech" rally staged by conservative activists, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. An estimated 15

Police tussle with counterprotesters near a "Free Speech" rally staged by conservative activists, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston.  An estimated 15

Police tussle with counterprotesters near a "Free Speech" rally staged by conservative activists, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. An estimated 15

Police move toward a counter-protester, right, near a "Free Speech Rally" staged by conservative activists, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. (AP Ph

Police move toward a counter-protester, right, near a "Free Speech Rally" staged by conservative activists, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. (AP Ph

A man wearing a T-shirt bearing the name of President Donald Trump, right, argues with a counterprotester after being hit by a flying plastic bottle o

A man wearing a T-shirt bearing the name of President Donald Trump, right, argues with a counterprotester after being hit by a flying plastic bottle o

A man wearing a T-shirt bearing the name of President Donald Trump, center, argues with counterprotesters after being hit by a flying plastic bottle o

A man wearing a T-shirt bearing the name of President Donald Trump, center, argues with counterprotesters after being hit by a flying plastic bottle o

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans watches counterprotesters near a "Free Speech" rally staged by conservative activists, Saturday, Aug. 19, 201

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans watches counterprotesters near a "Free Speech" rally staged by conservative activists, Saturday, Aug. 19, 201

Organizers stand on the bandstand on Boston Common during a "Free Speech" rally staged by conservative activists, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston.

Organizers stand on the bandstand on Boston Common during a "Free Speech" rally staged by conservative activists, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston.

A counterprotester, part of a small group who remained on the street hours after a "Free Speech" rally was staged by conservative activists, scuffles

A counterprotester, part of a small group who remained on the street hours after a "Free Speech" rally was staged by conservative activists, scuffles

Police try to calm an injured man who was assaulted while arguing with counterprotesters long after a "Free Speech" rally was staged by conservative a

Police try to calm an injured man who was assaulted while arguing with counterprotesters long after a "Free Speech" rally was staged by conservative a

Police escort an injured man who was assaulted while arguing with counterprotesters long after a "Free Speech" rally was staged by conservative activi

Police escort an injured man who was assaulted while arguing with counterprotesters long after a "Free Speech" rally was staged by conservative activi

Raymond Simmons, left, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, gestures to Skylar Carson, right, during the "Dallas Rally A

Raymond Simmons, left, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, gestures to Skylar Carson, right, during the "Dallas Rally A

A demonstrator, left, with 'Dallas Rally Against White Supremacy' confronts a counter demonstrator Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Brand

A demonstrator, left, with 'Dallas Rally Against White Supremacy' confronts a counter demonstrator Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Brand

Demonstrators hold up signs during a rally against white supremacy Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Demonstrators hold up signs during a rally against white supremacy Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Demonstrators raise clenched fists in defiance to racism during a protest in the Venice beach area of Los Angeles on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. Hundreds

Demonstrators raise clenched fists in defiance to racism during a protest in the Venice beach area of Los Angeles on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. Hundreds

Demonstrators carrying signs walk along Main Street in the Venice beach area of Los Angeles on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. Hundreds of people rallied in

Demonstrators carrying signs walk along Main Street in the Venice beach area of Los Angeles on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. Hundreds of people rallied in

David Busch, left, a homeless community organizer is joined by Kris Tibor, carrying a photo in memory of Heather Heyer during protest walk in the Veni

David Busch, left, a homeless community organizer is joined by Kris Tibor, carrying a photo in memory of Heather Heyer during protest walk in the Veni

Anti-racism demonstrators participate in a rally that started in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. Protests took place ac

Anti-racism demonstrators participate in a rally that started in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. Protests took place ac

A protester raises her fist during a march that started in Centennial Olympic Park, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Atlanta. Protests took place across th

A protester raises her fist during a march that started in Centennial Olympic Park, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Atlanta. Protests took place across th

People gather at the King Center after a march by anti-racism demonstrators which started in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta on Saturday, Aug. 19,

People gather at the King Center after a march by anti-racism demonstrators which started in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta on Saturday, Aug. 19,

BOSTON (AP) — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans in a public rejection of white nationalism upstaged a small group in Boston that planned a "free speech rally" a week after a violent clash rocked Virginia and reverberated across the U.S.

Counterprotesters marched through the city on Saturday to historic Boston Common, where conservatives had planned to deliver a series of speeches but soon left. Police vans later escorted the conservatives out of the area, as boisterous counterprotesters scuffled with police.

Organizers of the event, the Boston Free Speech Coalition, had publicly distanced themselves from the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others who fomented violence in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. A woman was killed at that Unite the Right rally, and many others were injured, when a car plowed into counterdemonstrators.

Opponents feared that white nationalists might show up in Boston anyway, and turned out in force, some dressed entirely in black with bandannas over their faces. Officials said the rallies — the largest of about a half dozen around the country on Saturday — drew about 40,000 people.

Counterprotesters chanted slogans, and waved signs that said: "Make Nazis Afraid Again," ''Love your neighbor," ''Resist fascism" and "Hate never made U.S. great." Others carried a large banner that read: "SMASH WHITE SUPREMACY."

Chris Hood, a free speech rally attendee from Dorchester, said people were unfairly making it seem like the rally was going to be "a white supremacist Klan rally."

"That was never the intention," he said. "We've only come here to promote free speech on college campuses, free speech on social media for conservative, right-wing speakers. And we have no intention of violence."

One of the planned speakers of the conservative activist rally said the event "fell apart."

Congressional candidate Samson Racioppi, who was among several slated to speak, told WCVB-TV that he didn't realize "how unplanned of an event it was going to be."

Rockeem Robinson, a youth counselor from Cambridge, said he joined the counterprotest to "show support for the black community and for all minority communities."

Members of the Black Lives Matter movement held a protest on the Common, where a Confederate flag was burned and protesters pounded on the sides of a police vehicle.

Boston Commissioner William Evans said 33 arrests had been made by Saturday night — mostly for disorderly conduct while some were for assaulting police officers.

The police department tweeted Saturday afternoon that some protesters were throwing bottles, urine and rocks at them.

President Donald Trump applauded the people in Boston who he said were "speaking out" against bigotry and hate. Trump added in a Twitter message that "Our country will soon come together as one!"

Saturday's showdown in Boston was mostly peaceable, and after demonstrators dispersed, a picnic atmosphere took over with stragglers tossing beach balls, banging on bongo drums and playing reggae music.

Rallies in other cities around the country, while smaller, also were forceful.

Counterprotesters marched through New Orleans, some of them carrying signs that read "White People Against White Supremacy" and "Black Lives Matter." And in Atlanta, a diverse crowd marched from the city's downtown to the home of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Meredith Dubé brought her two daughters, 2-year-old Willow Dubé and 12-year-old Rai Chin to the Atlanta rally. Dubé is white and her daughters are mixed race. She said it is essential to show children at an early age that love is more powerful than hate.

In California, a rally was held near the famed Venice beach boardwalk in Los Angeles and an anti-racism rally was held in Laguna Beach one day before the group America First! planned to hold a demonstration in the same place that's being billed as an "Electric Vigil for the Victims of Illegals and Refugees."

Mayor Toni Iselman told the crowd that "Laguna Beach doesn't tolerate diversity, we embrace diversity."

In Silicon Valley, more than 500 people gathered in Mountain View in response to a far-right "March on Google" to rally against the technology company's firing of a white male software engineer over his claim that women were biologically unsuited to tech jobs. Organizers postponed the right-wing march, alleging threats from leftists.

In Dallas, a scuffle broke out between people at a rally against white supremacy and supporters of Confederate monuments as the event was ending. Police officers had to subdue the crowd.

The rally, which authorities estimated 2,300 people attended, was at City Hall plaza, near a Civil War cemetery that houses a memorial to Confederate soldiers. Only a few hundred people remained when tempers flared and officers on horseback broke up the two sides.

The Rev. Michael W. Waters, one of the speakers at the rally, said: "Now is the time to do what is right in the city of Dallas. Now is the time to bring these monuments down."