Boston’s mayor lashed the “cowardly” masked members of the white supremacist Patriot Front after a surprise march Saturday along the city’s legendary “Freedom Trail” of sites that played a historic role in America’s independence.
At least one skirmish erupted when members of the mob appeared to pounce on a taunting Black bystander, the Boston Herald reported.
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) July 2, 2022
Police first learned of the event after noon as the mob gathered downtown, Boston NBC affiliate Channel 10 reported.
Some 100 members wearing the beige khaki pants and blue shirt uniforms of the Patriot Front unloaded shields and flags from a rented truck in Haymarket Square, the Herald and CBS Boston reported. Some of the flags were American, at least one was an upside-down U.S. flag, and others appeared to feature a fascist symbol, according to the newspaper.
The marchers wore white bandanas covering their faces and sunglasses, obscuring their identities, and beige baseball caps. They reportedly handed out flyers at the city’s Public Library announcing themselves as members of the Patriot Front.
Mayor Michelle Wu responded on Twitter: “To the white supremacists who ran through downtown today: When we march, we don’t hide our faces. Your hate is as cowardly as it is disgusting, and it goes against all that Boston stands for.”
To the white supremacists who ran through downtown today:
When we march, we don’t hide our faces. Your hate is as cowardly as it is disgusting, and it goes against all that Boston stands for.
— Michelle Wu 吳弭 (@wutrain) July 2, 2022
She later told CBS that the “disgusting, hateful actions and words of white supremacist groups are not welcome in this city. Especially in a moment when so many of our rights are under attack, we will not normalize intimidation by bigots.”
On a July Fourth holiday weekend when “we remember Boston’s legacy as the cradle of liberty, we celebrate the continued fight to expand those liberties for all and ensure that Boston will be a city for everyone,” she added.
Patriot Front taking a casual stroll along the Freedom Trail pic.twitter.com/bDt0vMkgkp
— The Rum Tum Taurus (@atotheco) July 2, 2022
“I’m outraged and disgusted at the white supremacist group protesting today in Boston,” City Council President Ed Flynn tweeted. “It’s critical to call out hate and intimidation when we see it, educate children on horrors of the past and stand with the Jewish community, our immigrant neighbors and communities of color.”
Last month, 31 members of the Patriot Front packed into a U-Haul rental truck with face shields and armored vests were busted by Coeur D’Alene police in Idaho, where they were headed to “riot” at a downtown Pride event, according to officials. Among them was the neo-Nazi founder of the group, 23-year-old Thomas Ryan Rousseau of Texas, who formed the group after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
The gang’s assault on the Pride event was meticulously planned and stimulated by the Republican Party’s rising animus toward the LGBTQ community.
The Anti-Defamation League calls the Patriot Front one of the nation’s most visible and vicious white supremacist groups, which is known for launching “flash demonstrations” in various communities.
Why won’t America classify the Proud Boys, Patriot Front and the Oat Keepers as domestic terrorists?🤔
Homeland Security keeps saying the threat is real - yet they walk among us in broad daylight!#DOJ DO SOMETHING ‼️
— 🎱🌻Nikol Rae🎶✨🇺🇸🌻🇲🇽 (@valleylove40) July 2, 2022
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.