Participants in a Straight Pride Parade and counter-protesters came face-to-face in Boston, Saturday, with police making dozens of arrests amid a tense scene.
Boston police deployed a massive presence of officers from Copley Square, where the parade began, to City Hall, where protesters gathered as parade participants held a rally. Thirty-six people were arrested and four officers sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the events, police said.
It was not immediately clear if those arrested were participants in the parade or protesters.
The parade, which included a lead float displaying a "Trump 2020" sign, began at noon. Participants were seen waving American flags as they walked along the route.
Counter-protesters were seen holding signs along the parade route and were separated from the parade participants by barricades. Many of the counter protesters shouted and swore at the marchers, including chanting "shame."
Boston police deployed a massive presence of officers, who escorted the parade participants through the streets and gathered at City Hall ahead of the parade's arrival. Police said earlier they would heighten security and deploy uniformed and undercover officers.
Protesters gathered at City Hall and lined the streets, holding signs, rainbow flags and chanting as parade participants went through a security check point.
The event was organized as a response to the city's annual Pride Parade held each year in June. The people behind the Straight Pride Parade have denied that the event is about hate.
"I'm marching today because it’s great to be straight," said one participant, Teresa Richenberger. "I don’t want to offend no one. If you’re gay, go be gay. That’s okay. But I’m straight, and I have a right to teach my son that to be straight, to marry a woman when he gets older."
Former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who is banned from social media networks, was expected to serve as grand marshal.
The roughly 2-mile parade route, which stretched from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza, raised concern from Emerson College President Lee Pelton regarding the safety of students.
In a campus-wide message sent this week, Pelton slammed the parade calling it "a perversion" and a "desecration of beauty, truth and generosity."
Parade organizer Samson Racioppi says Emerson suppressed free speech by criticizing it.
"They're just heterophobic. They don’t want to afford us the right to walk down the street," Racioppi said. "That’s all we want to do is walk down the street."
Pelton responded in a campus message asking "not to be lulled into believing this parade is motivated by any noble obligation to protect freedom of speech or assembly."
"This is its mask only and behind that mask are a group of angry and misguided people whose aim is to turn a cherished American value, e pluribus unum, 'out of the many, one,' on its head," Pelton said.
Parade organizers were expecting at least 2,000 attendees. The actual number appeared to be far less than that.
"That parade was epic, and we're here, and we’re standing tall," parade organizer John Hugo said.