The Rally Against White Supremacy or­ga­nized to pro­mote unity.

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - By Tay­lor Gold­en­stein tgold­en­stein@states­

Hun­dreds of demon­stra­tors, gal­va­nized by the vi­o­lence that turned fa­tal in Vir­ginia one week ago, took to Austin City Hall on Satur­day to pro­mote a mes­sage of love and unity.

“The pur­pose in get­ting out here is to start help­ing heal the na­tion. That hasn’t been done on a higher, ad­min­is­tra­tive level, yet,” said rally speaker Henry King. “It’s been at­tempted, but we really need to put hu­man­ity and peace even over Amer­ica. We need to be hu­man first and Amer­i­can sec­ond.”

Or­ga­niz­ers of the Rally Against White Supremacy said about 1,200 peo­ple at­tended. The Austin Po­lice De­part­ment es­ti­mated at least 1,000. No group came to coun­ter­protest.

The event, or­ga­niz­ers said, was planned in just a week’s time — set­ting up a rally is some­thing that they’ve be­come more savvy about as these events be­come a sta­ple of Austin po­lit­i­cal life.

Demon­stra­tors held signs that read, “Only one side: love,” “Hate is not a fam­ily value,” and “White si­lence = vi­o­lence.”

King and Mar­garet Haule of Black Lives Mat­ter led the group in a “Say Their Names” call-an­dan­swer. Speak­ers listed names of and spoke about peo­ple killed by po­lice vi­o­lence and hate crimes as well as jour­nal­ists killed for do­ing their jobs.

When they came to the name of Heather Heyer, the 32-yearold woman killed last week when a ve­hi­cle plowed into a crowd of peo­ple protest­ing a white su­prem­a­cist rally in Char­lottesville, Va., Haule told the crowd to say it again. They obliged. She told them to say it louder. The crowd roared.

Later, Patty Hatcher, an Austin Com­mu­nity Col­lege hu­man­i­ties pro­fes­sor, read a quote from Heyer’s mother: “They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just mag­ni­fied her.”

“I want you to know that each and ev­ery one of you are here to am­plify all the voices,” Hatcher

con­tin­ued, “of those who have been lost and those who stand against hate and stand for free­dom and equal­ity.”

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, who on Fri­day joined House Democrats call­ing for the cen­sure of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump af­ter his re­marks about Char­lottesville, also spoke at Satur­day’s rally.

“We need ev­ery­one in this com­mu­nity to turn up the heat on hate,” Doggett said, adding later, “Hate never has and hate never will make Amer­ica great.”

Just a day af­ter Austin Mayor Steve Adler an­nounced he’ll lead a group of may­ors from across the coun­try in a na­tional anti-big­otry ef­fort in re­sponse to the Char- lottesville vi­o­lence, Adler ad­dressed the crowd.

“There is only one who should be car­ry­ing a torch, and that is the Statue of Lib- erty,” Adler said. “In Austin, Texas, white su­prem­a­cists will never be supreme.”

Paige Berry, 27, a graphic de­signer who lives in the North Loop area, said she went to Satur­day’s rally to take a pub­lic stand against ha­tred and racism.

“(Hate groups) have num­bers, ob­vi­ously, and it’s more im­por­tant than ever to bring that mass op­po­si­tion and show ev­ery­one that there’s no place for this in Amer­ica, in the world, any­where,” Berry said.

The rally was mostly peace­ful ex­cept for a small episode dur­ing which a de­liv­ery cy­clist al­legedly taunted a few demon­stra­tors by ask­ing “an­tag­o­nis­tic” ques­tions and whacked a phone out of hands of one demon­stra­tor, John Fricker, a 53-year-old South Aus­ti­nite.

Fricker and sev­eral oth­ers gave state­ments to po­lice. Fricker said the rea­son he came to the rally was to fight against peo­ple with hate in their hearts.

“We just can’t let stuff like that pass,” Fricker said, adding that he hadn’t de­cided whether to press charges over the in­ci­dent. “In­tol­er­ance can’t be tol­er­ated. That’s the para­dox of tol­er­ance.”


Gianna White­hawk, 3, par­tic­i­pates in the Rally Against White Supremacy at Austin City Hall on Satur­day. Other demon­stra­tors held signs that read, “Only one side: love,” “Hate is not a fam­ily value,” and “White si­lence = vi­o­lence.”


At the Rally Against White Supremacy at Austin City Hall on Satur­day, Ken­neth Loeben­berg car­ries a photo of his grandfather, Wal­ter Loeben­berg, 94, who fought in the Army dur­ing World War II.

Tif­fany Lepa par­tic­i­pates in Satur­day’s rally. The Austin Po­lice De­part­ment es­ti­mated at least 1,000 at­tended. No group came to coun­ter­protest.

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