Demonstrators Rally in Austin in Support of President Trump

Mar 4, 2017

An estimated 300 people showed up in the rain to march in support of President Donald Trump in downtown Austin on Saturday.

The March 4 Trump event started with a rally in Wooldridge Square Park off Guadalupe Street. People under umbrellas surrounded a gazebo where supporters took turns speaking.

One of the keynote speakers, Marvina Case, who is African-American, tried to press the case that Trump has a diverse range of support, even if the crowd she was addressing was mostly white. 

“If he’s racist why would I and millions of other minorities vote for him?” she asked the crowd. “Why would 14 percent of gays vote for him if he hates homosexuals?”

Part of the way through her speech, a small group of anti-Trump protesters, some wearing masks, showed up and started chanting slogans such as, “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!”

That drew a group of Trump supporters, who tried to drown them out with their own chant of “USA! USA!”

There was a confrontation as one protester tried to grab an American flag from a Trump supporter, but Austin police officers broke it up.

Back at the gazebo, speakers continued for a few more minutes until a police officer told them they had to start marching. The event was already running behind schedule.

The March 4 Trump wound through downtown Austin, with police temporarily blocking traffic. A few protesters followed and heckled the marchers; others videotaped them.

A small group of protesters scuffles with participants in the March 4 Trump rally.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Nick Dement said he came out to protest after examining the Facebook event page. 

“I’ve seen lots of language threatening pretty much any one ideology that doesn’t support a white nationalist viewpoint, and I’ve seen a lot of Confederate flag stuff all over their page,” he said.

Neil MacQuarrie said he came to the march because he supports President Trump’s tough stance on border security, his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and his skepticism of international trade agreements.

He said being a Trump supporter is difficult in Austin: “I’ve been spit at. I’ve been swerved into. I’ve attempted to be silenced in class. I go to ACC, and I’ve gotten into arguments.”

A participant who gave his name as Samuel Hyde (the name of an alt-right Internet comedian) said he believes Trump supporters are unfairly treated in this city run by Democrats.

“Austin is a complete hellhole,” he said. “It’s a hotbed. It’s a communist training ground. I’m tired of the radical left going around beating people up just because they have different political opinions.”

When the march arrived at the state Capitol, Trump supporters gathered on the south steps and chanted, “Eight more years! Eight more years!”

Hope Cruz and Marri Velasquez participate in the march.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Some Trump supporters acted as a sort of self-appointed security force, wearing radio earpieces and getting in between marchers and anti-Trump protesters.

At one point, a man wearing a “Veterans for Trump” shirt pulled back his shirt to show a holstered handgun in his pants to some of the masked protesters heckling marchers.

Later, he seemed to have a moment of reconciliation with one of the protesters -- or at least there was civility.

The March 4 Trump in Austin was one of at least 50 rallies across the country on Saturday.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to reflect that one of the people interviewed may have misidentified himself.