Genevieve Morgan of Portland said her husband and children were worried about her safety when she announced she was going to Boston on Saturday to rally against white supremacy.

But despite the heat and sporadic scuffles in the crowd, Morgan said she was glad she spent the day on Boston Common protesting racism and hate.

“It was a positive experience. We all feel it was such a beautiful expression of what our country is all about,” Morgan said as she rode back to Maine with a group of friends after the rally ended Saturday afternoon.

Morgan was one of dozens of Maine residents who took part in a counterprotest at a noon rally by a group called the Boston Free Speech Coalition. Only a few dozen coalition members actually showed up and they left before their rally was scheduled to end.

The coalition, which says it is against white supremacy and racism, describes itself as a group of “libertarians, progressives, conservatives, and independents and we welcome all individuals and organizations from any political affiliations that are willing to peaceably engage in open dialogue about the threats to, and importance of, free speech and civil liberties.”

Officials worried the protest would attract white nationalists in the wake of the deadly demonstrations last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Boston police were prepared for big crowds. They erected barricades, shut down streets and closed some subway lines in the area in an effort to prevent violence. Police also banned all weapons and items that could be used as weapons. Marchers were asked not to carry bags or backpacks, which authorities said would be subject to searches.

The possibility of violence did not keep away some Mainers.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, Naomi Mayer of Portland and her group of about 10 “hardy” Mainers were getting ready at a parking garage at Government Center, about a 15-minute walk from Boston Common.

Kelli Burton of Waldoboro was already at Boston Common when the first marchers arrived shortly before 11 a.m. Burton said there was a large police presence.

“It is all peaceful. Everything is good,” Burton said.

Marena Blanchard, a Portland organizer who co-founded For Us, By Us, a fund to support people of color in Maine, was at the Fight Supremacy rally Saturday in nearby Roxbury, where people were getting ready to march to Boston Common.

“All I can see is people,” Blanchard said.

Morgan said she saw the Boston Free Speech Coalition members at their rallying spot at the Parkman Bandstand gazebo. She was positioned at the barricades erected to keep the protesters and counterprotesters separated. She said only 30 to 40 protesters showed up.

“I have to tell you the Nazis threw a party and no one came. There wasn’t enough to fill a bus,” Morgan said.

She was with a contingent of Maine groups, including Mainers for Accountable Leadership, Women’s March Maine, March Forth, Rise Up, Brunswick Indivisible, Rapid Resist and March for Truth.

Morgan said the conditions were uncomfortable at Boston Common as the sun came out and the day wore on. She said she saw a few scuffles between men wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and the counterprotesters. There were helicopters thundering overhead.

She also saw members of the “antifa” – far-left-leaning militant groups that resist neo-Nazis and white supremacists at demonstrations and other events – dressed in their signature black hats, black face bandannas and clothing.

Morgan, a writer who said she has been swallowed up in activism since the Women’s March on Washington in January, said Boston police did a great job keeping everyone calm.

“It was impressive and scary,” she said of the event.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: bquimby

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