Roadblocks, weapons bans as Boston braces for ‘Free Speech’ rally

Roadblocks, weapons bans as Boston braces for 'Free Speech' rally

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) – Boston officials are planning road blockades and even banning food vendors from the historic Boston Common as they step up security around a “Free Speech” rally on Saturday featuring right-wing speakers, aiming to avoid a repeat of last weekend’s violence at a white supremacist rally in Virginia.

Some 500 police officers will be on the streets around the popular tourist destination. They are planning to close some roadways to vehicles, mindful of the car attacks that killed a woman in Charlottesville and 13 in an attack in Barcelona on Thursday.

“We all know the tragedy that happened in Barcelona. That only makes us more vigilant,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, who was the department’s second-in-command during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Saturday’s rally has drawn intense concern from city and state officials following the violence in Charlottesville, when white supremacists at a “Unite the Right” rally fought in the streets with anti-racism protesters. A woman was killed at that event when a man said to have neo-Nazi sympathies crashed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, injuring another 19 people.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s response to that event, including his statement on Tuesday that there were “very fine people” on both sides of last weekend’s conflict, has drawn wide-spread condemnation from both Democrats and Trump’s own Republican party.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the city had granted a permit for Saturday’s event but would not tolerate violence. Sticks, bats and weapons of all kinds would be banned, he said.

“We are going to respect their right to free speech. In return they have to respect the safety of our city,” Walsh said. “If anything gets out of hand, we are going to shut it down.”

The rally could be dwarfed by a “Fight White Supremacy” march starting in the city’s historically black Roxbury neighborhood an ending at the Common, which organizers expect to draw thousands.

“Our job is to make sure that as the peace rally enters into Boston Common that the folks that come in there feel safe, that we don’t have an incident that happened like last week in Virginia,” Walsh said.

A few hundred people are expected to attend the “Free Speech” rally on Boston Common, the nation’s oldest public park. Speakers include Kyle Chapman, a California activist who was arrested at a Berkeley rally earlier this year that turned violent and Joe Biggs, formerly of the right-wing conspiracy site Infowars.

Organizers of the rally on Facebook denounced the violence and white supremacist chants of the Charlottesville event.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Taxi hits pedestrians near Boston airport, at least 10 hurt

A Massachusetts State Police officer walks past the scene where a taxi cab crashed into a group of bystanders at the taxi pool at Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – A taxi plowed into a group of pedestrians near the taxi pool serving Boston’s Logan International Airport on Monday, sending at least 10 people to hospitals with injuries, authorities said, adding that it appeared to be an accident.

“At this preliminary point in the investigation, there is no information that suggests the crash was intentional,” the Massachusetts State Police said in a statement.

Local media, citing unnamed sources, said the taxi driver may have hit the gas instead of the brake pedal. Police said they were interviewing the driver, a 56-year-old man from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Boston police officers, as well as fire and emergency services personnel, were on the scene of the crash, which occurred in the city’s East Boston section, the Massachusetts State Police said in a Twitter post.

“Preliminary reports indicate several pedestrians with injuries, varying severity,” the police said.

At least 10 people were taken to hospitals after the crash, Boston Emergency Medical Services said in a Twitter message.

Video footage on CNN showed what appeared to be a taxi, with its front hood buckled, resting next to a building.

The people who were hit were on a patio next to the parking lot where dozens of taxis were parked, WCVB-TV reported.

(Reporting By Gina Cherelus in New York and Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Additional reporting by Daniel Wallis in New York, Tim Ahmann in Washington; Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)

Boston Terror Gunman Plotted To Kill Police

FBI officials have confirmed that the terrorist shot and killed Tuesday by police and federal agents in Boston had been working on a plot to attack police.

Investigators said they moved on Usaamah Abdullah Rahim after intercepting a phone call talking about beheading police officers.  When they approached Rahim, he pulled out a military style knife and threatened the police. He was shot after refusing their demands to drop the weapon and withdraw.

Rahim was described as a 26-year-old security guard who had been “radicalized by ISIS.”  His original plan was to behead Pamela Geller, the woman who had hosted a “Draw Mohammed” contact in Texas that was the target of a failed terror attack.  He changed the plan to target police when he realized it would be too difficult to reach Geller.

“These cases are a reminder of the dangers posed by individuals radicalized through social media,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairma Michael McCaul said at a Wednesday hearing.

Rahim reportedly bought three military style knives from Amazon in late May.

McCaul also said there was evidence of Rahim’s social media communications with ISIS where “going on vacation” was discussed.  He explained that “going on vacation” was code for taking a violent jihad action.

Police have arrested two other men in connection with the plot.

Boston Police Shoot Terror Suspect

Boston police fatally shot a man Tuesday that was part of a terrorism investigation.

An official with the U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force says the slain man was part of a terror investigation involving Islamist extremists who were under surveillance and tracking.  The man was shot after coming toward police and federal agents with a military-style knife.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said the man was specifically under investigation for threats against police officers.  Details on those threats were not released to the media.

“Unfortunately, he came at the officers and, you know, they do what they were trained to do and, unfortunately, they had to take a life,” Evans said.

The suspect died at an area hospital.

Two officers who were involved in the incident were examined for stress at the hospital but did not suffer any physical injuries.

The shooting is still under official investigation.

Boston Marathon Bomber Convicted

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two brothers who carried out an Islamic terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon April 15, 2013, has been found guilty of multiple charges.

The conviction included charges that can bring the death penalty such as conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction.

The conviction was not unexpected as his lawyers admitted he participated in the attack.  The defense had stated their goal was to put doubt in the minds of the jury regarding his motivations in an attempt to spare him the death penalty.  The defense painted Dzhokhar as being brainwashed by his older brother Tamerlan into radical Islam.

“If not for Tamerlan, [the bombing] would not have happened,” Clarke told the jury during closing arguments.

The trial now moves to the punishment phase with the same jurors from the initial phase of the trial.

Prosecutors will be focusing on the fact that extremist Jihadi websites were found on both brother’s computers.  They also showed the writings of Dzhokhar on the boat where he was captured that read “stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.”

Defense attorney Judy Clarke has worked with other high-profile clients to have them spared the death penalty.  She worked to keep the Unabomber and Susan Smith, who drowned her children, from being sent to death row.

Boston To Be Hit With Fourth Major Snowstorm In Weeks

The city of Boston is preparing to be hit again with a massive winter storm after having over 70 inches of snow in the last few weeks.

The latest storm will strike this weekend with up to 15 inches of fresh snow.  The storm could also bring 60 mile per hour wins and coastal flooding with waves of 20 feet or higher.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard watch for the Massachusetts coast through Sunday night.  A winter storm watch has also been put in place for non-coastal areas.  Those non-coastal areas could see a foot of snow.

The temperatures are also causing problems with average highs around 15 degrees and wind chills as low as -22 in some areas.  Officials say that if the storm brings power outages, elderly folks and shut-ins could face problems with freezing in their homes.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the city’s public transit system, already under heavy criticism for poor performance during the previous storms, would be shut down over the weekend during the new storm.

At least 170 pieces of snow removal equipment from other states has come to the Boston area to assist government workers.

Judge Refuses To Delay Boston Bomber Trial

A judge on Wednesday denied attempts by lawyers for the Boston Marathon terrorism suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to delay the start of his trial.

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge George O’Toole, Jr. means that jury selection will begin Monday in Boston federal court.

Lawyers for Tsarnaev tried to make the case that it would impossible to find an impartial jury in Massachusetts because of the amount of publicity given to the case.  They also said they needed more time to examine the large amounts of discovery turned over my prosecutors.

The lawyers tried to use the example of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh whose trial was moved to Denver because of media attention.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges that could bring the death penalty if he is convicted.

Jury selection in the case is expected to take weeks because of the intense media coverage and the number of local residents impacted in some way because of the bombings.  Also, jurors who object to the death penalty could also be excluded from the case.

Boston Slammed By Severe Winter Storm

A massive winter storm that has brought snow over New England for the last 36 hours will end up dumping as much as 30 inches of snow in parts of Boston.

The storm has also brought temperatures in the dangerous range.

Most communities across the northeast are reporting temperatures that are topping out in the single digits above zero with wind chills significantly below zero.

New York City told residents to stay home until the storm ends. Meteorologists with the National Weather Service said the wind chill through the northeast corridor is so low that exposed skin could start to freeze in 15 minutes.

School districts across the region were closed to keep children safe.

Officials believe that temperatures will rise into the 40s on Sunday with rain helping to clear roads.

THEY GOT HIM! Boston Marathon Bomber In Custody

Friday night, less than a week after killing three people and injuring over 170 others in a terrorist bombing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is the custody of FBI and Boston police officials.

Tsarnaev, 19, identified as “suspect two” in the photographs released by the FBI this week, was discovered hiding inside a boat in the backyard of a home in Watertown, Massachusetts.  The homeowner had been in his backyard earlier in the day and saw nothing but as evening approached noticed something amiss about the boat just after the police order to stay inside had been lifted by Governor Deval Patrick. Continue reading