Hundreds gathered outside Austin City Hall on Saturday to rally against white supremacy and hear from activists and elected leaders. Demonstrators wrapped around the exterior of City Hall and helped themselves to free water bottles from coolers to combat the triple-digit heat.
Organizers estimate that more than 1,000 people showed up, some with handmade signs that read, “Cowboys against hate” and “I will not be governed by hate.”
There were no counterprotesters in sight.
“I’m glad that everyone is here in such large numbers,” said Ashley Nguyen, a recent University of Texas grad. “But if you don’t show up, you’re not voicing your discontent with our nation’s reaction [to Charlottesville].”
Margaret Haule, the founder of Black Lives Matter Austin, opened the rally by asking the crowd to repeat the names of black men and women killed by police, including Sandra Bland, Terence Crutcher and David Joseph, who was killed by an Austin police officer last year.
Latina activist Cristina Tzintzún asked the crowd to show up in similar numbers to protest Senate Bill 4, which requires local law enforcement to comply with all warrantless immigration detainer requests from federal authorities.
“While we stand here together now, I want to see you all in two weeks at the capitol, when communities across Texas are coming together against SB 4 to say there is no place for hate in the Lone Star State,” Tzintzún said.
SB 4 is set to go into effect on Sept. 1, though a lawsuit filed by several Texas cities, including Austin, is seeking to block the law.
After the group of local pastors, professors and activists finished addressing the crowd, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett stepped up.
“We need everyone in this community to turn up the heat on hate,” said Doggett, before criticizing President Donald Trump’s response to the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last weekend. “In, sadly, typical Trump-style, he tried to lay the blame on all sides, equating non-violent counter protesters supporting equality and justice with torch-lit processions filled with people shouting anti-Semitic and racist slurs.”
Doggett said he had the support of 100 colleagues in Congress to try and pass a resolution censuring Trump.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler closed the rally, reflecting on how Austin’s forced racial segregation in the early 20th century is still felt today.
“We officially segregated as a city in 1928,” said Adler, referring a 1928 city plan that forced black residents to live east of what is now I-35 through restrictive covenants.
“It still is!” shouted several in the crowd; Adler agreed.
“We remain today as perhaps the most geographically segregated city in the country,” he said.
*Correction: In a previous version of this post, Cristina Tzintzún's name was misspelled.