DALLAS — As protesters gathered in front of Dallas City Hall Friday evening, nursing freshman Brock Bowman didn’t let anything deter him from his main goal: Exercise his right to free speech.
Twice in one day, Bowman was asked why he was protesting if President Donald Trump was inaugurated.
“My immediate reaction isn’t about changing anything,” he said. “This is more to say there will be more resistance. If you push us, we’ll push back.”
He said protests like the one in front of City Hall also reflect solidarity.
“It’s to get a feeling of belonging,” he said.
Counter protester Patrick Connery showed up to Dallas City Hall with a plan and a sign reading, “You're all crybabies.”
Next Generation Action Network organized a protest in front of Dallas City Hall opposing Donald Trump’s presidency. Protests across the nation broke out in response to President Trump being inaugurated Friday.
“I’m just telling them what they need to hear,” Connery said.
He said the protesters were wrong about Trump.
“They’re all misinformed about what Trump stands for,” he said. “Trump stands for making America great again.”
Connery’s definition of “making America great” includes “getting rid of politically correct culture” and bringing back jobs.
Protester and Dallas resident Barbara Sorhe was the first to approach the counter protester. Earlier in the night, Sorhe said she came to the rally in hope of educating people.
“I want to spread knowledge,” she said. “And for those afraid to come out and show their feelings — they’re not alone.”
When Sorhe confronted Connery, the two started a dialogue about immigration.
“These people are coming here for their safety and their family,” Sorhe said. “They didn’t do anything wrong.”
Connery rebutted, saying everyone who immigrates has to go through the process to be here legally.
“We have laws in place,” he said.
By the time Sorhe walked away, there were more attendees engaging with Connery. When they accused him of having white privilege, his tone changed.
“Telling me that white privilege gets me places ain’t true,” he said. “I got to where I am because of how hard I work.”
“Demonstrations like these are mostly about solidarity,” he said.
But Connery’s night got physical when he showed up to another Dallas protest at Dealey Plaza later that night.
A man, clothed in a black and white scarf to hide his face and carrying a red flag with an emblem from the group Anti Fascist Action crossed Elm Street to confront Connery.
Pushing the flag’s wooden pole across Connery’s chest, he shoved and yelled at Connery until another protester intervened.
A confrontational protester from Europe, who did not want to be named, said he attended the march on behalf of Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
“We’ve been fighting fascism since World War II,” he said. “Since the 1980s, fascism was on a silent rise, and in the 2000s, it rapidly grew throughout Europe.”
He said Trump was a cancer, and because of this the protester confronted Connery.
Connery expected the reaction he received at both protests.
“Yeah, I expected being called out and for people to argue with me,” he said. “I kind of even expected to get pushed around. They believe the memes and lies the news gives them.”