GRAND PRAIRIE – As President Donald Trump held a campaign rally at American Airlines Center Thursday night, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke held an opposing rally, dubbed the “Rally Against Fear,” at The Theatre at Grand Prairie.
“I love you all,” O’Rourke said as he addressed a cheering crowd, beginning a half hour speech.
The campaign counted 5,532 people in attendance, from auditorium seats to the pit.
“We’re here to support the message that Beto is trying to get across,” attendee Caryn Cox from Euless said. “What’s better than on a night that a president who has divided us, to be together against him.”
The common theme of the night was fear and hatred – things many of the 17 speakers before O’Rourke and rally attendees believe President Trump perpetuates – and how to combat them.
“Everything that [Trump] does and says incites fear and hatred,” attendee Jennifer Van Horn from Flower Mound said.
O’Rourke criticized President Trump for his language and rhetoric on immigration and people of color, referring to his comments calling undocumented immigrants “animals” and his supporters chanting “send her back” in reference to congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
“We cannot stand for that fear because we must stand for those who have been the victims of that fear,” O’Rourke said. “Each one of us must commit to be anti-racist going forward … At a time that some would build cages, we’re building bridges to connect us.”
The other speakers included Democratic challengers to Texas Senator John Cornyn for the 2020 midterm elections, community leaders Imam Omar Suleiman of Valley Ranch and Reverend Michael Waters of Dallas and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. Immigration, healthcare and local issues such as the deaths of Atatiana Jefferson and Botham Jean (in reference to police brutality and gun control) were most often brought up.
Two speakers also requested a moment of silence for former representative Elijah Cummings, who died early Thursday morning.
Among the speakers was senate candidate MJ Hegar, a combat veteran who ran for Texas’ 31st congressional district in the United States House of Representatives and was narrowly defeated by incumbent Republican John Carter by 3%.
“What I fought for overseas is happening here,” Hegar said. “What we’re fighting for is much more than partisan values.”
Royce West of Dallas, current Texas state senator and 2020 challenger to John Cornyn, also spoke. He claims he has 10 out of 12 Democratic state senators’ support and 49 out of 67 Democratic representatives’ support from the Texas House of Representatives.
There were three musical acts as well, from Houston rapper Lil’ Keke and bands NuFolk Rebel Alliance and Cure for Paranoia.
Rally speakers and attendees voiced their frustrations with the current political climate, but ultimately, it came down to their hopes for future elections.
“This country was not built on fear,” O’Rourke said. “America was built on courage and imagination … that is the America I see here tonight.”
This story was originally published on Coppell Student Media on October 18, 2019.