A rally against COVID-19 public safety measures like mask and vaccine mandates brought dozens of protesters and even more counter-protesters to Boston Common on Sunday, where the participants breached police barricades and repeatedly clashed, according to The Boston Globe.
Police said two people were arrested, the Globe reported. The newspaper estimated that “scores” of right-wing protesters turned out, while hundreds of counter-demonstrators showed up — along with hundreds of police trying to keep them apart.
The event was organized by the Refounding Fathers Coalition and Super Happy Fun America, the group that planned the controversial “Straight Pride” parade in 2019, according to a local NBC affiliate in Boston, NBC10.
The protest’s purpose was to “resist vaccine passports, face diapers, mass layoffs, and unconstitutional mandates,” NBC10 reported.
The NBC affiliate added that issues began early in the event when a van’s windshield was smashed and it drove into barricades.
Businesses near Boston common closed and nearby Emerson College warned its students of potential issues, according to NBC10.
Last month, mask requirements at most Massachusetts public schools were extended until Jan. 15, 2022.
“Masks remain a simple and effective measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep students in school safely,” the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education commissioner, Jeffrey Riley, said of the decision.
Also last month, over 800 Boston city employees were suspended without pay for defying the city’s policy requiring them to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing.
In Massachusetts, 70 percent of people are fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times. The state has seen over 860,000 COVID-19 cases and over 19,000 deaths throughout the pandemic.