If you're going to punch Nazis, first make sure they're actually Nazis

Some innocent people have been mistaken for white supremacists, and it's causing problems

By Matthew Sheffield
August 21, 2017 4:38PM (UTC)
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White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" exchange insults with counter-protesters as they attempt to guard the entrance to Emancipation Park (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

In Boston over the weekend, tens of thousands of people showed up to protest against fascism as a small band of far-right activists staged a protest on behalf of free speech.

Overall, there were very few arrests as a percentage of the people who showed up. According to Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans, about 40,000 people were there — mostly to protest against the protesters who showed up — and there was no property damage.


The organizers of the "Free Speech Rally" were a different bunch from the Charlottesville, Virginia crew. Saturday's protest featured a different contingent of demonstrators, including one man wearing an Israeli flag and a Trump hat, who was harassed and treated as if he were a fascist. One counter-demonstrator even boasted that he would steal the Trump fan's identity.

Update 2017-08-29 23:11 ET. This story originally referenced a Colorado man named Joshua Witt who claimed that he had been stabbed by someone who believed him to be a neo-Nazi due to his haircut.

A subsequent police investigation discovered that Witt had allegedly lied about his injury. Witt has been charged with making a false report to police, according to a Denver television station.



Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via m.sheffield@salon.com or follow him on Twitter.

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Anti-fascist Movement Antifa Boston Free Speech Political Violence