AT LEAST 1,000 RALLY IN AUSTIN AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACISTS
The Rally Against White Supremacy organized to promote unity.
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.