Dozens of people attempted to attend a pro-gun rally in Lexington Friday morning despite an emergency moratorium the town placed on gatherings on the Battle Green after the Boston Marathon bombings this week.
Lexington Police Chief Mark Corr said several groups, ranging in size from eight to 10, to as many as 80 people, came to the town Friday morning beginning around 9:30 for a Second Amendment rally that had at one time been permitted for the Battle Green.
But Corr said after the marathon bombings Monday, and based in part on the advice of federal authorities investigating the attack, the town’s Board of Selectmen held an emergency meeting Tuesday to suspend all permits on the Lexington Battle Green temporarily. Corr said the town consulted federal authorities and state police, and they also agreed postponing the rally would be a good decision.
But dozens of people came to Lexington anyway Friday morning for the rally, and when they arrived Corr said police would not let them on the Battle Green. The decision was underscored by the violent manhunt underway for the marathon bombing suspects in nearby Cambridge and Watertown Thursday and Friday.
“In light of what was happening in the Boston area, I don’t know how we could not have made that choice,” Corr said.
Corr said police did allow the rally-goers to briefly assemble on the lawn in front of Lexington’s visitor center, and briefly say their piece before moving on.
Some of the rally-goers came by motorcycle, and were headed to other pro-gun rallies Friday, Corr said. The rally permit had previously been granted to a Stephen Redfern, whom Corr said was affiliated with Gun Rights Across America. Before the rally permit was suspended, Corr said other people were going to hold a counter-protest to the pro-gun groups.
Several people who came for the rally were still lingering near the Battle Green shortly after noon Friday.
Walter Reddy, 61, of Weston, Conn., wore a tri-corner hat and other Colonial-era attire to attend the rally in support of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, he said. Reddy said he thinks the militias need to be revitalized and restored in several states.
Will Harvey, 40, of Andover, said he came to Lexington to rally support for the Constitution, argue that the country needs to get back to its original values, and to urge people to turn off their televisions and care for the people in their communities.
Speaking together to a reporter, Reddy said there is no excuse for the attack in Boston Monday, but Harvey said that does not mean that the rally in Lexington should be canceled.
“When there is some sort of event, are we supposed to put our lives on hold?” Harvey said.
Corr said he also considered that the Boston Marathon bombings occurred on Patriots Day Monday, a holiday in which thousands of people also visit Lexington to remember the first battle of the American Revolutionary War. He said authorities were also weary of having a pro-gun rally on the April 19 anniversaries of the government siege in Waco, Texas, and the Oklahoma City bombing in the 1990s.
Lexington Selectman Norm Cohen said the board’s emergency vote to place a moratorium on all rally permits for the Battle Green was done completely in the interest of public safety.
Cohen said the pro-gun supporters can reapply for another permit once the moratorium is lifted.