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Thread: Reporters were blocked from witnessing actual Boston Free Speech Rally

  1. #1

    Reporters were blocked from witnessing actual Boston Free Speech Rally

    Ensuring that there is no free press, either.

    First Amendment activists protest restrictions on journalists at Boston ‘free speech’ rally
    AP, August 27, 2017

    BOSTON (AP) — Not everyone is happy with restrictions imposed during last weekend’s rally on the Boston Common.

    During Saturday’s rally, a small group of conservative “free speech” activists were allowed to gather on a park bandstand. Boston police created a barrier to separate those participating in the rally from thousands of demonstrators who filled the common to protest racism and white supremacy.

    Police also blocked reporters from approaching the bandstand to hear what those attending the rally were saying.

    The New England First Amendment Coalition says those restrictions unreasonably interfered with the right of journalists to cover a story of public interest.

    They say accommodations should have been made for close-up press coverage of the speakers as is usually done at public events.

    City officials say they were trying to prevent violence.
    Not expecting any real support from the 'New England First Amendment Coalition' either, as their website suggests they're probably more interested in being anti-Trump, than actually protecting free speech.

    They did post the following on August 25. Sounds like they view the whole thing, not so much as a wrong, but as one of those "learning experiences". On one hand, they rightly complain that reporters were prevented from covering the event, yet it's clear they have assumed the same "white supremacist" narrative as the rest of the media, so they are not open-minded people. Some of the links may be of interest to those looking for more info.

    After Boston Common Protest, NEFAC Calls on City to Better Balance First Amendment Rights with Security Needs
    CONTACT Justin Silverman

    The New England First Amendment Coalition believes certain restrictions in place during the recent Boston Common protest unreasonably interfered with the right of journalists to cover a story of immense public interest. The restrictions may have also violated the First Amendment right of Americans to express themselves in offensive, even hateful, ways.

    Specifically, journalists should not have been banned from the Parkman Bandstand where a controversial rally occurred on Aug. 19 and accommodations should have been made for close-up press coverage of the speakers as is usually done at public events. In addition, comments made by city officials indicate an intent to use an unusually large buffer zone to prevent supporters of the rally from expressing offensive views.

    NEFAC is calling on the City of Boston and its law enforcement leaders to revise their policies for future assemblies to better allow speech – however offensive – to be heard by the public, particularly by those in the media. The coalition provides several suggestions below that if followed would help protect First Amendment rights in Boston, an historic bastion of free speech, while also preserving the ability of police to prevent violence. In summary, those suggestions are:

    • City officials should make reasonable accommodations for close-up media coverage of public events and should avoid outright media bans.

    • Journalists should scrutinize all restrictions on press access and promptly challenge them when necessary.

    • Any security measures imposed by the city should be for the sole purpose of preventing violence and not, even in part, to prevent certain messages from being shared.

    More than 30,000 demonstrators assembled on the Common in response to the self-described “free speech” rally that at one point included speakers with white nationalist perspectives. This largely peaceful counter-demonstration occurred just a week after violence and death marred protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    To help prevent similar violence between the rally speakers and protesters in Boston, city officials created a barricaded buffer zone between the two groups. This area was about 40 yards wide and surrounded the Parkman Bandstand where the rally occurred. Police denied all journalists access to this buffer zone and the bandstand area.

    Boston Police Department Commissioner William Evans later said this separation was intended in part to make it more difficult for additional speakers to join the rally. “That’s a good thing because their message isn’t what we want to hear, The Boston Globe quoted Evans as saying.

    Since the rally, additional context has been reported: Many of the 33 people arrested during the demonstrations are accused of acting violently or posing an imminent threat of violence. Rally organizers have acknowledged that despite being permitted to use a sound system, they did not bring one and could not amplify their voices beyond the buffer zone. And some journalists are now, in hindsight, reconsidering their acquiescence to a media ban announced two days prior to the rally.

    This context is significant as it helps illustrate the city’s competing interests and the difficult constitutional balance between maintaining security and protecting First Amendment freedoms. As the national political climate remains divisive and tense, additional rallies and protests like those that occurred in Boston will likely be held elsewhere.

    While NEFAC is pleased with the lack of violence in Boston, there are still lessons to be learned and changes that need to be made.

    ICYMI - This seems to be the only video of the actual rally:
    Last edited by Valli6; 08-30-2017 at 02:37 PM.

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  3. #2
    Six corporations own all the news companies, so their reputations didn't much matter. But now they're trying to clamp down the internet, but haven't gotten there yet. So, the oligarchy has neither a lock on information dispersal nor a MSM with a reputation it doesn't deserve.

    Enter police restrictions on the MSM, which gives the MSM an excuse for being deaf and dumb. And officially exit the First Amendment.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dick Van Dyke
    Last night CNN International CNN gave me ten minutes live to talk about Bernie Sanders who has been scantily covered by them in favor of the Donald J. Trump circus. It was pre-empted completely to cover another outburst by Trump. This pandering to the scandal hungry public is a total lack of responsible journalism. I accuse CNN of extreme bias.
    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    Ron is wrong...

  4. #3

    Oh, the hypocrisy!

    Who was it that said "Never under estimate the stupidity of large crowds"?

    A few more tidbits I hadn't been aware of. Still a few champions out there, though.
    ‘Free speech’ rally speakers, little heard, end event quickly
    By Beth Healy GLOBE STAFF* AUGUST 19, 2017

    They said they had come to stand up for free speech, but in the end, their invited speakers addressed only a small group of sympathizers, on a bandstand surrounded by barricades, far from the throngs of counterprotesters, who could not hear them at all.

    By 12:45 p.m., only 45 minutes into their official program, organizers of the Boston Free Speech rally ended the event and were escorted by police out of the park, to chants of “Go home, Nazis” from the crowd. A Facebook post for the event listed 14 speakers and was scheduled to last for two hours.

    The separation from the crowds and the news media was by design. The rally had a buffer of about “35, 40 yards” according to Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, in part for safety, but also to dampen their voices. If some speakers were unable to make it to the bandstand, Evans said, “That’s a good thing because their message isn’t what we want to hear.”

    John Medlar, one of the rally’s organizers, complained on his Facebook page that journalists and supporters were blocked from entering the rally.

    “This has only proven my point: There is a massive cultural intolerance against dialogue in this country,” he wrote.

    Those who study and advocate for the First Amendment were split on the city’s actions.

    Free speech doesn’t guarantee that anybody listens to you,’’ said Rebecca Tushnet, a First Amendment specialist at Harvard Law School. She said the ideas of the rally came across because of the heightened attention to it.

    The counterprotesters, who vastly outnumbered those who attended the “free speech” rally, reveled in the low turnout and early departure. But Harvey Silverglate, a Cambridge-based criminal defense and civil liberties lawyer, said: “I am burning over this. If we repress and suppress unpopular speech, all we’ve done is kept ourselves ignorant.” [Yay!]

    Silverglate said it was important to know whether the speakers had dangerous or hateful messages. [Yes!]

    “I was deprived of that because of an army of hooligans who made it impossible to hear the speakers,’’ he said.

    Authorities had worried that the rally, which was held at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common, would attract white supremacists. Two of the event’s scheduled speakers had ties to extremist elements, including one who took part in the Charlottesville rally.

    It’s unclear whether those speakers addressed those on the bandstand, which appeared to hold 50 people, at most. The speakers were also separated from others on the Common by dozens of police officers on bicycle and on foot. If they had any amplification on the bandstand, it was not audible to the crowd or to reporters.

    “It would have done greater honor to the First Amendment if the rally organizers’ message — no matter how noxious — could in fact be heard. I believe that Bostonians as a whole are strong enough to hear such a message and still soundly reject it, proving that hate has no power here,’’ Boston lawyer Robert Bertsche said. [Thank you!]

    Shiva Ayyadurai, a Republican who is challenging Elizabeth Warren for her Senate seat and was a speaker at the rally, said that isolating the rally was “despicable.”

    “They blocked free speech,” Ayyadurai said, referring to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker.

    The counterprotesters often chanted loudly, and sometimes profanely. There were thumping drums and shouts of “shame” and “we can’t hear you.” However, amid the noise were a number of polite, if passionate, encounters between the two sides.

    James Leavitt, a 23-year-old from Weymouth, was sporting a Trump football shirt and explaining to a small group that he was at the rally to support free speech. He was driven by recent protests against conservative speakers at the University of California, Berkeley, he said.

    “I think everyone should be able to have an opinion, as long as they’re not hurting anyone,’’ Leavitt said. As several counterprotesters challenged Leavitt, ]eremy Herrell, a conservative blogger from Claremont, N.H., applauded the group.

    I wish there was more of this going on,’’ he said of the cordial exchange.

    The temperature heated, however, after the rally participants were ushered off the Common to vans parked at the edge of the Common, on Boylston Street. Several hundred counterprotesters blocked the exit for about 45 minutes, shouting, “Make them walk,” until police wearing riot gear and carrying sticks finally pushed the counterprotesters out of the way.

    The American Civil Liberties Union had sued the city of Charlottesville on behalf of the march organizers there, arguing for their right to hold their event. But members of the Boston ACLU on Saturday marched with counterprotesters here.

    “Given those overwhelming numbers, and in light of last week’s horrible violence in Charlottesville, it was understandable for the police to try to keep some physical space between different groups who came out today,’’ ACLU Massachusetts executive director Carol Rose said in a statement.

    “[But] if the Boston Police Department created buffer zones to intentionally limit journalists’ and [others’] access to speakers on the Boston Common, it would raise serious constitutional concerns.” [Aha, so what are you doing about it Carol Rose?]

    Aimee Ortiz, Jan Ransom, Dan Adams, and Cristela Guerra of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Beth Healy can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.
    Last edited by Valli6; 08-31-2017 at 12:37 PM.

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