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Indiana man arrested for Boston 'free speech' rally shooting threat

BOSTON (Reuters) - Authorities on Friday arrested an Indiana man on a federal charge he threatened to shoot white attendees at a Boston rally last August of far-right speakers days after a deadly protest by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, prosecutors said.

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The Boston “Free Speech” rally, in a city known for liberal politics and as a cradle of the American Revolution, drew tens of thousands of counterprotesters and a massive police presence aimed at averting the sort of violence seen in Charlottesville.

An indictment filed in federal court in Boston said Eric Radulovic, 32, had been upset by the death of a counterprotester at the Charlottesville rally when he posed as a white supremacist and posted the online threat.

Radulovic posted on the 4chan message board that he planned to shoot white attendees at the Boston event to gain sympathy for the alt-right, the indictment said.

The alt-right is a loose grouping characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics that includes neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites.

According to the indictment, Radulovic posted the message on 4chan’s “Politically Incorrect” bulletin board a day after the Aug. 12, 2017, death of counterprotester Heather Heyer at the rally in Charlottesville. She was killed by a car that drove into the crowd.

Authorities arrested the Avon, Indiana, man in his home state, prosecutors said in a statement. He was charged with one count of transmitting in interstate and foreign commerce a threat to injure the person of another.

A lawyer for Radulovic could not immediately be identified.

White nationalists had converged on Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, to defend a statue of Robert E. Lee, who led the pro-slavery Confederacy’s army during the Civil War.

The violence at that event drew concerns about a potential repeat scenario in Boston, where the “Free Speech” rally had been scheduled to take place a week later.

Prosecutors said Radulovic posed as a white supremacist and posted that he would go to the Boston event and “bring a Remington 700 (rifle) and start shooting Alt-right guys.”

“We need sympathy after ... all the liberals (got) teary eyed, so someone is going to have to make it look like the left is becoming more violent and radicalized,” Radulovic wrote, according to the indictment.

The Aug. 19, 2017, event in Boston took place as scheduled. It drew tens of thousands of counterprotesters who dwarfed the “Free Speech” rally on the Boston Common, which attracted a few dozen people.

After the Charlottesville event, President Donald Trump provoked ire across the political spectrum for not immediately condemning white nationalists and for praising “very fine people” on both sides of the issue.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis