Counterprotesters hold signs and chant at the Statehouse before a planned "Free Speech" rally by conservative organizers begin on the adjacent Boston Common, Saturday, August 19, 2017, in Boston.  Police Commissioner William Evans said Friday that 500 officers, some in uniform, others undercover, would be deployed to keep the two groups apart.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Counterprotesters hold signs and chant at the Statehouse before a planned "Free Speech" rally by conservative organizers begin on the adjacent Boston Common, Saturday, August 19, 2017, in Boston. Police Commissioner William Evans said Friday that 500 officers, some in uniform, others undercover, would be deployed to keep the two groups apart.
Now playing
02:03
Thousands in Boston march against hate
Now playing
03:44
Do the 1990s hold the key to sustainable websites?
Now playing
01:10
Watch SpaceX land its Mars rocket prototype for the first time
Now playing
05:52
The climate crisis is taking these farmers' most valuable resource
U.S. President Donald Trump works on his phone during a roundtable at the State Dining Room of the White House June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump held a roundtable discussion with Governors and small business owners on the reopening of American's small business. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump works on his phone during a roundtable at the State Dining Room of the White House June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump held a roundtable discussion with Governors and small business owners on the reopening of American's small business. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:37
Facebook Oversight Board: Indefinite suspension of Trump's account is 'not appropriate'
Now playing
03:41
How technology at NASA helps guide Biden on climate
Now playing
01:42
A vaccine without needles? It's on the way
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 06:  Host Conan O'Brien speaks onstage during the 5th Annual NFL Honors at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Host Conan O'Brien speaks onstage during the 5th Annual NFL Honors at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:48
Conan announces his last show after 30 years in late night
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Now playing
03:14
Will Trump be allowed back on Facebook? This board will decide
CNN
Now playing
05:16
WTF is a SPAC?
Now playing
01:51
A shortage of tanker truck drivers could cause stations to run out of gas
CEO at Verizon Media K. Guru Gowrappan appears at the 2019 Verizon Media NewFront on April 30, 2019 in New York City.
Noam Galai/Getty Images for Verizon Media
CEO at Verizon Media K. Guru Gowrappan appears at the 2019 Verizon Media NewFront on April 30, 2019 in New York City.
Now playing
02:47
Verizon sells off Yahoo and AOL
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, attends the 2019 annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 3, 2019. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, attends the 2019 annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 3, 2019. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:40
Warren Buffett warns on US inflation
Now playing
01:00
Astronauts splash down after record-setting mission
ATLANTA - APRIL 30:  A Boeing 757 with a new Delta Airlines logo sits on the tarmac following the company's emergence from bankruptcy at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport April 30,2007 in Atlanta, Georgia. The 757 sports new branding that will appear on more than 900 planes, at airports and on advertising.  (Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images) 757
Barry Williams/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
ATLANTA - APRIL 30: A Boeing 757 with a new Delta Airlines logo sits on the tarmac following the company's emergence from bankruptcy at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport April 30,2007 in Atlanta, Georgia. The 757 sports new branding that will appear on more than 900 planes, at airports and on advertising. (Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images) 757
Now playing
02:28
Why Delta airlines is resuming selling middle seats
Now playing
02:50
Grocery chain says 'hero pay' forcing them to close stores

Story highlights

Trump thanks police for "looking tough and smart"

Trump additionally thanked Boston Mayor Marty Walsh

(CNN) —  

President Donald Trump tweeted his support for the Boston Police Department’s handling of a self-described free speech rally and counterprotest march that brought thousands to the city’s downtown Saturday, adding that he applauded “the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate.”

“Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston,” Trump tweeted about two hours after the largely peaceful rally and march there ended. “Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.”

Later, Trump tweeted that the protests might help heal decades-old divisions.

“Our great country has been divided for decades,” he wrote. “Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!”

“I want to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate,” he continued. “Our country will soon come together as one!”

The Boston Police Department arrested 27 people during Saturday’s protests, Police Commissioner William Evans said in a press conference. Most of the arrests were for disorderly conduct, but a few individuals were arrested for assaulting police officers, he added.

The rally, which was planned before racially motivated protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly last week, took place amid a heated national debate about racism and the future of Confederate monuments – but the Boston march and rally were largely peaceful.

In Charlottesville, white supremacist groups rallied against the city’s plan to take down a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, a protest that exploded in violence that resulted in the death of 32-year-old counterprotester Heather Heyer. Two Virginia state troopers, Jay Cullen and Berke Bates, were killed as well in a helicopter crash during the response to the violence.

In Boston, rally organizers had invited “libertarians, conservatives, traditionalists, classical liberals, Trump supporters or anyone else who enjoys their right to free speech,” according to a group calling itself the Boston Free Speech Coalition, which sought to distance itself from the violence in Charlottesville on its Facebook page.

“We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence,” it said. “We denounce the actions, activities, and tactics of the so-called Antifa movement. We denounce the normalization of political violence.”

A coalition of mostly left-leaning groups and activists such as the Black Lives Matter movement organized Boston’s counterprotest.

Some carried signs with messages such as “No Trump. No KKK. No racist USA” and “Americans against hate.” At times, they chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, white supremacy has got to go” and “black lives matter.”

Police maintained a buffer zone between marchers and rally participants – averting major incidents except for occasional clashes and shouting matches between the counterprotesters and supporters of Trump.

Earlier in the week, Trump held a news conference in which he blamed the violence in Charlottesville on both sides of the conflict – equating the white supremacists on one side with the “alt-left” on the other side.

On Saturday, after the Boston rally and protest march ended, Trump tweeted thanks and “great job” to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

Walsh tweeted earlier Saturday morning asking for peace and respect at Saturday’s “Free Speech” rally and counter-protests.

“I ask everyone to be peaceful today and respect our City,” he wrote. “Love, not hate. We stand together against intolerance.”

By 1:30 p.m., the rally had ended, earlier than expected. “‘Free Speech’ rally is officially over,” the Boston police tweeted. “Demonstrators have left the Common.”