GRAND PRAIRIE — Miles away from President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign rally in Dallas, presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke spoke against racism and hatred in his “Rally Against Fear” on Thursday at The Theatre at Grand Prairie.
O’Rourke announced his rally as a direct response to Trump’s “Keep America Great” rally, which took place at American Airlines Center on the same day. Performers, Texas Senate democratic candidates, religious leaders and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins took the stage before O’Rourke’s speech, which lasted about half an hour.
About 5,500 people attended the event, according to O'Rourke's media team. This is the second time O’Rourke has directly countered a Trump rally in Texas this year.
"That fear that he's trying to use against us; that fear that he directed and drove down to El Paso, Texas. That fear that claimed the lives of 22 Americans," O’Rourke said. "Those of us standing here to be counted are the answer to that fear."
O’Rourke said Trump has created a sense of fear that has become ingrained into the public consciousness.
“We cannot sit idly by and in our silence be complicit in the violence and the terror and the racism that exists in this country at unprecedented levels in our lifetimes,” O’Rourke said. “We stand together, and we stand against fear.”
Supporters gathered at the foot of the stage, cheering and holding black signs emblazoned with “Beto for America.”
This was the fourth rally that Spanish junior Edgar Valles has attended in support of O’Rourke. Valles said he has followed O’Rourke since he ran for Senate last year.
Having the rally the same day as Trump’s showed that the president has competition, Valles said.
“Reelection is not going to be something easy for him,” he said. “The people of Texas are divided, and for this election, it’s definitely a battleground state.”
Toward the end of the event, O’Rourke was joined by Democratic Senate candidates, including UTA alumnus Royce West, on the stage behind him.
“This country was not built on fear,” O’Rourke said. “America was built on courage, on imagination, on an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”
Tyler residents Mike and Nancy Nichols arrived at the event several hours early with signs and helped set up the event.
Wearing an orange hat signed by O’Rourke and covered in support buttons, Mike Nichols said they both have met O’Rourke several times. Who you see on camera is who he is in person, Mike Nichols said.
“He personifies integrity,” Nancy Nichols said.
Social work junior Jessica Martinez said she thought the rally was inspirational.
Following him since his senate race in 2018, Martinez said she likes O’Rourke’s progressive views on topics such as climate change, immigration and LGBTQ issues.
The rally showed how the fear and ideals of the Trump administration can be overcome, she said.
“We shouldn’t be afraid,” Martinez said. “We still have support, there [are] people that have our backs.”