Whipping wind and rain didn’t keep about 100 people from gathering at the Rhode Island Statehouse Saturday. Most of those assembled were there to protest a right-wing rally organized by the group "Resist Marxism."
Members of the group promoted the event as a free speech rally. But counter-protesters said the group has ties to white supremacy.
“I’m concerned they’re going to gain traction and followers because it’s a barely hidden guise to white supremacy and be a Nazi,” said Santino Tartaglia of Smithfield, who participated in the counter-protest. “I just want people to be able to live in peace without living in fear of someone hurting them.”
According to its website, Resist Marxism exists to "defend the Constitution against violent extremists and the regressive left." The group promotes itself as a defender of First Amendment rights and "American nationalism."
In July, the group organized an event titled "Speak English Please" at Trump Tower in New York City. It also organized a free speech rally on Boston Common that drew thousands of counter-demonstrators.
The Providence event was billed as part of the launch of the group's newest chapter, following the creation of similar chapters in New York and Boston.
Counter-protest organizer Lesley Bunnell said her group blocked the rally from reaching the Statehouse steps.
“We just held our ground and they tried to make their way up the steps, and that was probably an hour-long process,” said Burnell. “They never made it.”
The rally was scheduled to last between noon and 3 p.m. By 1:00 most of the Resist Marxism demonstrators appeared to have left the Statehouse grounds. Counter-protesters estimated that about two dozen people had attended the rally. A group of approximately 100 counter-protesters remained on the Statehouse lawn until about 2 p.m.
Rhode Island State Police said they made one arrest at the rally. A 34 year-old man from Massachusetts was charged with disorderly conduct and simple assaulty. State police could not say whether the man was there for the Resist Marxism gathering or the counter-protest.
This post has been updated.
A previous version of this post misspelled Ms. Bunnell's name.