Barbara Howard: It’s a rally that appears to be taking on a life of its own. If social media is any indicator, thousands of counter protesters are planning to flood Boston Common tomorrow in response to a so-called Free Speech Rally that features known white nationalists as speakers. With me in the studio is Monica Cannon of Boston's Roxbury neighborhood. She's founder of a local group called Violence in Boston. It's partnering with a national Black Lives Matter group. Thanks for coming in Monica.
Monica Cannon: Thanks for having me.
Barbara Howard: So we should make it clear from the start that these groups, there are so many of them, there's no one group that's the counter to the originally planned rally. Many unaffiliated individuals are also expected to show up, and the police have set up certain parameters with organizers and the city of Boston has to keep the two groups apart — the original group and the counter-protesters.
But being apart, that does not mean that you can't hear each other or that you might rub shoulders coming and going to the event. The original organizer, John Medlar, here's what he had to say.
Clip: We don't want violence, you know. And, you know, sometimes that means you don't want people to get in each other's faces because, you know, when tempers are really heated and people get in each other's faces, that's when, you know, fights tend to break out, and that's exactly what we don't want.
Barbara Howard: Do you buy his talk that he's nonviolent?
Monica Cannon: No, I don't buy it. And the reason why I don't buy it is because of the lineup of speakers that he plans to bring into the city of Boston, and a lot of the correspondence that has transpired on social media in regards to this event does not align with the things that he said.
Barbara Howard: OK, so Medlar, I should point out, is 23-years-old, and he characterizes himself as being one of the older of his group. He says their aged 17 to 23, and he says there's maybe a half dozen in this original group of organizers of the so-called Free Speech Rally. Here's what he also says.
Clip: None of the people that we have invited to our rally identify with the label ‘alt-right’.
Barbara Howard: Now, do you buy that?
Monica Cannon: No.
Barbara Howard: What do you know about the speakers?
Monica Cannon: So, I know Kyle Chapman is a speaker. The moment you type his name into Google it pops up that he is a white nationalist. Joe Biggs is another speaker who is responsible for pizza-gate, and that's kind of self-explanatory.
Barbara Howard: That's the one where Hillary Clinton was running some crazy ring, and a guy popped off and it was a mess.
Monica Cannon: Right. And then Alex Jones from Infowars, I believe it's called. So yet none of the speakers in there — there are a couple of others — but I don't know their names, align with what he's saying for the press.
Also I would like to point out that we continuously like to downplay the size of what they're saying. ... One is one too many. One of them is one too many. One ounce of hatred in the city of Boston is one ... too many now.
Barbara Howard: Now he says he invited Black Lives Matter to speak. How realistic was that?
Monica Cannon: So we've seen things on social media of him saying that he would love to have somebody from Black Lives Matter speak. Well, we will not be going to speak at their platform. We have our own platform.
Barbara Howard: Now the white nationalists have been lashing out not only in racist terms, but in anti-Semitic terms. Is there any coordination between the black and Jewish community?
Monica Cannon: Absolutely. So we have a lot of amazing allies from the Jewish community. Jewish social action organizations will be standing in solidarity with us that day and marching with us. We have had the LGBTQI community and organizations like GLADD who have committed to walking with us. Some members of the clergy and other community based organizations who will be out there with us to march with us.
Barbara Howard: So on Sunday morning, when the headlines in the newspapers show up, what do you want them to say?
Monica Cannon: I want them to say that. The fight supremacy rally was successful. But not only was it successful, but we want to continue this process. It's not just about a march or a rally on Saturday, but it's also making sure that legislation that gets passed and people who represent us actually stand up and fight for people of color, indigenous people and those who are suffering and in this community, the Jewish community. We've seen what happened with the Holocaust Memorial and how it was desecrated. It's unacceptable, and we're not going to continue to accept it.
Barbara Howard: OK, thanks so much for coming in.
Monica Cannon: Thanks for having me.
Barbara Howard: That's Monica Cannon. She is one of the organizers helping put together counter-protests for the rally to take place on Saturday on Boston Common.