Refuse Fascism held a rally yesterday, Nov. 4, at the Boston Common to call for impeaching President Donald Trump and Vice President Michael Pence, although many at the rally ignored the speakers and argued with other attendees.
Similar rallies were held in cities across the United States today as Refuse Fascism kicked off a campaign to remove the President and Vice President almost a year after the 2016 election.
“The whole point of the protest is that it begins on the 4th, and hopefully our numbers will grow,” said Mary Fairbanks, 26, a member of the steering committee for Boston’s Refuse Fascism chamber. “By the voice of the people, not by violence. We just want a government that actually responds to the voice of the common man.”
Attendees huddled around the Parkman Bandstand in the common, chanting and taking a knee along with the speakers until one man yelled, “God bless the victims of Woodstock ’99, God bless the victims of Columbine, God bless the victims of Virginia Tech” in the middle of one of the speeches.
The organizers asked him to leave. Then, another man walked up to the counter-protester and asked him why the shouting was necessary. That argument was interrupted by Mary Beth Geary, an attendee who said she lived in a suburb near Rhode Island, and it became a shouting match.
Geary said later that she intervened in the argument because she believed they were talking about child molestation. Not long after Geary intervened, the surrounding members of the audience began arguing with each other, ignoring the speakers onstage.
“I actually haven’t had a chance to really listen to the people running the protest, I’ve been involved in a lot of conversations with pro-Trump people that are here today,” said Isa Alexander, 18, a freshman at Emerson College. “I don’t think [the conversations] have been productive at all.”
One member of a group of minors wearing “Meninist” and “Trump 2016” t-shirts argued with adults at the rally about climate change, with both sides claiming that the facts and evidence were on their side.
A man dressed as an orange rhinoceros with a sign that one side said, “’THIS IS A WITCH HUNT’ – HIS ORANGENESS” and on the other “HIS TAX PRIVACY’S SACRED” was confronted by other protesters about his intentions, including Mary Beth Geary.
The rhinoceros declined to give his name and told anyone who would listen that members of both political parties were being paid by Russian President Vladimir Putin and that individualism was bad.
The rally itself began with music and was concerned with Trump’s actions, fascism, and white supremacy, among other current political issues.
Unlike the orange rhinoceros, some people at the rally came because they are concerned with such issues, including fascism in America, and because they believe that the protest is important. One such person, Mike Bresnahan, 68, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, said, “the resistance itself can give heart to people.”
“The American narrative is false,” Bresnahan said, who showed up to the rally in a Colin Kaepernick jersey and hopes Refuse Fascism’s campaign will change that narrative. “We see the outlines of xenophobia, ultra-nationalism, misogyny, attacks on science and the truth itself, the victimization of Latinos, LGBT people, black people, and Muslims.”
The “attacks on truth” that Bresnahan mentioned were echoed by Amy Araujo, 20, from the South Shore, who said, “Trump is a fascist. His regime is a fascist regime.”
“A fascist regime is a regime that basically tries to instill fear in the population to create control,” she said. “That’s what we’re seeing the regime do. We’re seeing misinformation being spread.”
Geary said she came to the rally to learn, but after engaging with other attendees, she believes she understands what is going on.
“[Their message] is a joke. They aren’t anti fascist, they are fascist,” she said, regarding the other attendees of the rally. “They hate Christians, which I am as well.”
“Antifa is not a group, it is an ideology. It is the base minimum stance you have to be in order to be a decent human being,” Araujo said.
Despite the tension and divisions revealed at the rally, Refuse Fascism has planned protests in the next two following weeks in Boston as part of their campaign.
“[Progress is] going to start on the ground, it’s going to start in these protests,” Araujo said.