About 300 people toting umbrellas, signs and American flags took part in Saturday’s “March 4 Trump” to the Capitol, a sister rally to a nationwide series of events.
“There have been so many protests against him, we just want to spend a day showing him there are people who support him,” Jennifer Drabbant, 29, of Austin, one of the organizers, said of President Donald Trump.
The rally began at Wooldridge Square Park with a recitation of the national anthem and a group prayer followed by speeches and a march to the Capitol and back.
Marchers chanted “USA!,” “One Nation, One People!” and “Build a wall!” while waving U.S. flags, Trump flags and bearing the signature red “Make America Great Again” hats.
There were several scuffles with protesters during the event. One person was arrested for misdemeanor assault at the rally, police say.
Travis Martin, 29, wearing a black bandana around his face, came from Houston to protest, but when he arrived, police told him to stay out of the park and respect the people at the rally. Martin agreed to do so but said he felt his rights were being violated.
“It’s absolutely outside the bounds of the law,” Martin said in an interview after the exchange. “We’re just trying to show that the way that these guys (Trump and his supporters) are working is not the majority of America, and there is an opposing viewpoint.”
Rally speaker Maria de Jesus, a U.S. citizen who said she originally entered the country illegally, told the group that Latinos often call her a traitor because she supports Trump.
“For all the Latinos that are going to hear what I’m saying, just know that we are not against you,” de Jesus said. “I’m not a traitor. I just understand that this country has been good to me and to a lot of people.”
Another speaker, Marvina Case, roused the crowd as she championed Trump’s policies on immigration.
“Enforcing laws is not hatred or discrimination,” Case said. “It is equality.”
As speeches continued, a few protesters began to chant profanities against Trump from the sidewalk, about 100 feet from the rally in the park. “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” they yelled.
Ralliers repeatedly shouted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” and “USA!” back at them. Then, about 50 ralliers confronted the protesters.
After some shoving and more angry yelling, the marchers left for the Capitol.
“No amount of discussion is going to change anybody’s mind,” one police officer said to a man in a black biker vest reading “Veterans 4 Trump.”
Among those marching was Nikki Chick, 17, who drove from San Antonio for the rally, wearing a white Trump hat and shirt. Chick said she stood by Trump in supporting his travel ban and defunding of Planned Parenthood.
“I believe that the media doesn’t show how much support Donald Trump has,” Chick said. “They usually focus on the protesters and people that are against him, so I think that it’s important that Trump supporters rally.”
At the Capitol, another small scuffle broke out when ralliers began yelling at a young woman, Chau Ngo, 34, of Austin, who was silently holding a sign that read, “This country was built on genocide and slavery.”
“Deport you!” a woman screamed at her. “If you don’t like it here, go home! This is my home! Go home!”
Holding a sign that read “Women 4 Trump,” Susan Ebralin, 48, attended the rally with her family from Dallas. Ebralin said she wanted to show that not all women identified with the viewpoints expressed at the Women’s March.
“I feel like I have a president that is a billionaire and had no reason whatsoever to run for presidency except he heard my voice, the little one on the street, and he’s putting in policies that I want,” Ebralin said. “So the least I could do is come out and hold a sign.”