The Demand Free Speech rally in Washington by the right-wing Proud Boys and supporters unfolded relatively peacefully Saturday in the face of far greater numbers of counterprotesters — and hundreds of police who kept the groups apart.
The self-described “Western chauvinist” Proud Boys were heavily guarded by police as they gathered at Freedom Plaza. Officers worked to keep a safe distance between the group and members of the counterprotest #AllOutDC, including black-clad antifascists, to avoid a clash that erupted near the Lincoln Memorial on Independence Day and a more violent confrontation in Portland, Oregon, last weekend.
No injuries and no arrests occurred as Saturday’s gatherings played out, according to police. Helmeted members of Antifa were unable to get past police and barricades to confront the Proud Boys. The two sides never “fully engaged,” The Washington Post reported.
In one effective nonviolent confrontation, members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence marching with hundreds of counterprotesters drowned out an interview by an unidentified right-wing reporter by surrounding her and loudly clacking their hand fans.
The Proud Boys gathered to protest the shutting down of hate speech on social media platforms. Group founder Gavin McInnes took to the stage during the rally in toy handcuffs intended to represent social media restrictions. But then he was unable to get them off — until someone helped him, noted The Daily Beast.
The counter rally was held across the street in Pershing Park.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story referred to Portland, Washington, instead of Portland, Oregon.