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Vaccine mandate protesters, counter demonstrators clash

November 7, 2021 GMT
A counter protester, center left, releases a chemical irritant on a protester who came to attend a Super Happy Fun America and the Refounding Fathers Coalition called, "Rise Against Tyranny Rally," Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, as a scuffle brakes out between the two factions on the Boston Common, in Boston. The counter protesters and demonstrators, opposing mask and vaccine mandates, clashed Sunday, leading to two arrests. (Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via AP)
A counter protester, center left, releases a chemical irritant on a protester who came to attend a Super Happy Fun America and the Refounding Fathers Coalition called, "Rise Against Tyranny Rally," Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, as a scuffle brakes out between the two factions on the Boston Common, in Boston. The counter protesters and demonstrators, opposing mask and vaccine mandates, clashed Sunday, leading to two arrests. (Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via AP)
A counter protester, center left, releases a chemical irritant on a protester who came to attend a Super Happy Fun America and the Refounding Fathers Coalition called, "Rise Against Tyranny Rally," Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, as a scuffle brakes out between the two factions on the Boston Common, in Boston. The counter protesters and demonstrators, opposing mask and vaccine mandates, clashed Sunday, leading to two arrests. (Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via AP)

BOSTON (AP) — Protesters opposing COVID-19 mandates and counter demonstrators clashed in Boston Common Sunday afternoon.

Shoving matches broke out as the two groups held dueling protests amid a heavy police presence. The Boston Globe reported that two arrests were made. No injuries were reported.

The chaotic events stemmed from a planned protest against mask and vaccine mandates organized by members of Super Happy Fun America, a Massachusetts group with far-right ties that was behind plans for a “Straight Pride” parade in 2019.

A far larger group of counter demonstrators showed up to oppose the group. The Globe reported that individuals from both sides pushed against metal barriers erected by police, and that at another point protesters from the Super Happy Fun America walked around police to confront the counter demonstrators.

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Elizabeth Birdsall, one of the counter demonstrators, held a sign reading “No Hate in Boston.” She told The Globe that she wanted to push back against people who would make Boston “less safe and less equal.”

“We heard there was going to be a rally of anti-vaxxers and white supremacists and so forth, and we wanted to help drown that out,” said Birdsall, 39, “and support safety and equality for everyone in Boston.”

Sergeant Detective John Boyle, a Boston police spokesman, said authorities were prepared for the chaos.

“We had a well-prepared solid plan,” Boyle said. “The fact that two people were arrested, and no injuries, no officer injuries, I don’t see a break down.”