For a crowd of 40,000 protesters marching through Boston on Saturday, things went relatively smoothly, police said. Thirty-three arrests and some injuries were reported, but the "free speech" rally was deemed over before it was originally scheduled to end, with a massive show of anti-racist counterprotesters continuing to fan out in the area, ABC reported.
"Overall, I thought we got the First Amendment people in, we got them out, no one got hurt, no one got killed," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told ABC, adding that "99.9 percent of the people here were here for the right reasons – that's to fight bigotry and hate."
Evans also reported that three individuals were stopped for being in possession of a gun and ballistic vests, but those were confiscated without an issue. The day appeared to go off without a hitch for the most part, allowing authorities to breathe a sigh of relief after clashes at a Virginia white supremacist rally left one dead and several injured the weekend before.
While Saturday's events may have been tamer than some had expected, President Trump didn't miss the opportunity to release statements via Twitter, making an about-face from the start of the protest to the end. His first tweet showed some intial apprehension, referring to the ralliers as "anti-police agitators" and complimenting the police along with Mayor Marty Walsh. A subsequent tweet then thanked the police.
Great job by all law enforcement officers and Boston Mayor @Marty_Walsh.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2017
Then, in an odd turn of events, Trump said the "country has been divided for decades" and that protest was needed "in order to heal." (However, the first version of the tweet was replaced after he repeatedly wrote "heel" by mistake.)
Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2017
In his final message, the president again underscored the need for unification, stating that he applauded the protesters "who are speaking out against bigotry and hate."
I want to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2017
While Trump has historically failed to strongly condemn hate groups, Saturday's rapid succession of tweets seemed to point to a shift in tone after the events in Virginia.