Police estimate 3,200 people marched through downtown Dallas yesterday demanding an end to immigrant bashing and growing racial violence. The "Mega March" copied the rally of 11 years ago. That one drew a half million people. This much smaller crowd shared similar goals.
Catholic, Muslim and Jewish leaders prayed at the start of this broadly diverse march. Ranya Rahim and Abigail Strube were impassioned participants.
“This march is about mainly immigrants and refugees,” Rahim said. “Being there for them, opening up our borders for them, reducing the hate crimes…”
Her friend Strube chimed in. “We were built on immigrants. We need the immigrants. And people are coming here because they need to come here and I believe we should let them in,” Strube said.
Rahim, a Muslim here from Bangladesh, took aim at immigrant bashers.
“I’m an immigrant. I’m a first generation immigrant,” Rahim continued. “I came here almost 20 years ago. In this past 20 years we have had Republican presidents and Democrat presidents. However, this is the first time I feel this current president may not have my back.”
Incidents like hand-scrawled, anti-Hispanic posters were left over the weekend at Foster Elementary School. It’s populated by mostly Latino students. Officials condemned what they called hate speech.
Zade Rosenthal marched to defend the U.S. constitution and the American way of life he says are now threatened.
“If we don’t want to have refugees and people who are looking for a better life in this country then we need to tear down the old Statue of Liberty and give it back to the people who gave it to us,” Rosenthal said.
The march wended its mile and half path toward Dallas City Hall plaza. Along the way, marchers chanted "USA, USA," heard frequently at President Trump rallies. A lone supporter of Donald Trump, Dustin Martin, held his big blue Trump flag, saying he represents America, not like the people who were marching.
“America first!” shouted Martin.
Along the same route a woman sold t-shirts that read “Immigrants Make America Great."
At the end of the march, speakers took center stage. One of the rally organizers, attorney and former Texas State House Representative Domingo Garcia, targeted the current administration.
“Immigrants are not political piñatas to be kicked around for political points,” Garcia said. “We are human beings. We are families. We are building America with our hands…and we’re going to continue to fight for the America we believe is red, white and blue, and it’s all of us right here, all Americans.”
The list of mostly Democratic speakers continued, from Beto O’Rourke, who’s running against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, to U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro and Martin Luther King, III.
Like the giant march of 2006, police reported no arrests.