On April 15, about 60 activists – including many from or affiliated with Occupy Boston’s Queer/Trans Direct Action Working Group and Boston Antifa – interrupted the Mass Tea Party Coalition’s Tax Day rally at the Boston Common Gazebo. 3 arrests were made.
The counter-protest specifically focused on what protesters asserted to be anti-gay elements within the Tea Party, in light of several noted anti-gay activists having been invited to speak. Speakers included Scott Lively of Anti-LGBT group Abiding Truth and Brian Camenker of the anti-LGBT group Mass Resistance. Senator and former Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum had also been scheduled to speak that day, but did not end up attending the event.
The rally of about 150 people quickly turned on the counter-protest, starting chants of ‘Get A Job!’ to counter the protesters’ ‘Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay, Tea Party Go Away!’
At one point, a participant in the Tea Party rally physically assaulted a counter-protester. During the heated exchange that followed a police officer shoved the counter-protester out of the way, and appeared to aggressively grab them by the neck. Shortly thereafter, a photo of the incident began making its way through Occupy websites and lists, and onto the radar of the mainstream media.
As of last night, Boston.com reported that Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the Boston Police Department had said “the department will review all of the activity that took place during the course of the day” in order to determine if the officer’s response was necessary.
The inclusion of anti-gay speakers at the Tax Day Rally appears to highlight a growing strain between factions of the Tea Party. Another group, the Greater Boston Tea Party, boycotted Sunday’s rally in protest, saying in a post on its web page:
In keeping with the Greater Boston Tea Party’s tradition of welcoming all that want to preserve our Constitutional freedoms, we will be neither endorsing nor attending the rally on the Boston Common scheduled for Sunday, April 15, 2012. In fact, we encourage tea party activists to avoid the event. Sponsored by an unfamiliar “Mass Tea Party Coalition”, the lack of communication and collaboration with established tea party organizations concerns us that this is an organization bent on damaging the good name of the tea party movement.
The Mass Tea Party Coalition has a radically different view on tea party activism. Their main focus appears to be [gay marriage and abortion], as evidenced by the speakers they have chosen for their rally, including two well known anti-gay activists. This group claims to represent 40 groups but there is little evidence of this being accurate. We know of at least one legitimate Tea Party group that has asked repeatedly to be removed from the “coalition”, but to no avail.
Photos by Paul Weiskel (@PWeiskel08) and Chase Carter.