BOSTON — “It is a dangerous time. I don’t think that’s a stretch.”
That is how Tanisha Sullivan reacted to Saturday’s march through Boston by, apparently, the white supremacist group Patriot Front.
Sullivan, president of the Boston chapter of the NAACP, said what she found particularly noteworthy was the organizational aspect of the march.
“We’re talking about reports of upwards of a hundred people who were very coordinated in how they came into the city of Boston,” Sullivan said. “This was planned. And we do have at least one report of a physical altercation.”
That alleged altercation took place near Copley Square and involved a Black man. A witness, who came to the man’s aid, told Boston 25 News approximately five members of the marching group participated in the assault, using shields to push at the victim. She said by the time it was over, the man was “really bloodied up.”
She said two Boston police officers responded.
There are no reports of arrests, however.
Sullivan is concerned the reported assault represents an escalation amid an uptick in activity by far-right groups in Boston. She considers the situation so serious that she’s been consulting with partners in the Anti-Defamation League – as well as with Mayor Michelle Wu and U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins.
Sullivan said the goal is to increase awareness to help keep the public safe – if groups such as Patriot Front increase activity this summer.
“What should we do if we happen to view behavior that is concerning? Who should we call?” she said. “And also what should we not do? For example, with groups like this that are highly organized, very disciplined – chasing after members of these groups is not the safest thing to do.”
Some in Boston jeered the marchers as they made their way in an orderly column from the Freedom Trail, up Commonwealth Avenue and eventually to the Boston Public Library area in Copley Square.
The marchers were dressed identically in khakis and navy shirts. Their faces remained covered in ivory colored gaiters. They carried various types of flags – including one representing the Patriot Front.
City leaders denounced the march.
In a tweet, Mayor Wu called the marchers cowards for keeping their faces covered. City Council President Ed Flynn expressed his outrage and disgust, also on Twitter.
“We are at, really, a crossroads in our country,” Sullivan said. “We are truly in a battle for the soul of our democracy.”
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