O’Rourke urges unity during Grand Prairie rally

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Beto O’Rourke speaking at rally in Grand Prairie. Photo by Nathan Lowe

Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke held a rally Thursday night in Grand Prairie not only as a response to President Donald Trump’s rally but also to convey a message of unity.

Just 13 miles away from Trump, O’Rourke, joined by many prominent Texas Democrats, used the rally to fight Trump’s “message of fear.”

“That fear he is trying to use against us, that fear he directed and drove down to El Paso, that fear that claimed the lives of 22 Americans,” O’Rourke said. “We, those of us here together, standing to be counted, are the answer to that fear.”

This was the second time this year O’Rourke has hosted a counter rally to Trump. He hosted a similar rally in El Paso in February.

O’Rourke told the crowd of over 5,000 that his campaign is about building bridges, not walls, to bring people together. He connected Trump’s rhetoric and rallies to acts of racism and violence across the United States.

“We cannot sit idly by and be complicit in the violence and the terrorism and the racism that exists at unprecedented levels in our lifetime,” O’Rourke said. “Together we stand together, and we stand against fear.”

After the August mass shooting in O’Rourke’s hometown of El Paso, the former congressman has become a leading voice against gun control, arguing for a complete ban on assault rifles. He told his supporters to be politically fearless, as this stance has come under scrutiny from his Texas supporters.  

“The generations that follow us are counting on us now at this moment,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke also discussed the social injustice toward minorities in Texas and the use of deadly force, citing the two prominent shootings of Botham Jean and Atatiana Jefferson, which both were committed by white police officers.

Throughout his speech, O’Rourke returned to the theme of rallying against fear. He called for unity and strength and highlighted the impacts of immigrants in the history of the United States.

“This country was not built on fear,” O’Rourke said. “No, this country was built on courage, on an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand. That is the America that I see here tonight — I see a fearless America.”

While O’Rourke has been falling behind some of the other 18 democratic candidates, his supporters continue to believe he is the answer to the country’s problems.

“Beto did things in Texas that no other Democrat could,” supporter Elizabeth Hameline said. “This shows that he can represent all Americans and not just one wing of the country.”