Protesters fill Austin streets to push back against Trump on inauguration anniversary


AUSTIN (KXAN) – Hundreds gathered in downtown Austin Saturday to rally against the Trump administration on the anniversary of his inauguration.

Protesters assembled at city hall with signs high in hand, calling for President Trump’s impeachment and an end to what they called “lawlessness,” before marching through city streets blocked off by state and local police.

“This is what democracy looks like,” Nancy Pousson said during the march.

The collection of voices made their way to the state capitol. Mary Gonzales, of Corpus Christi, was there to add hers to the chorus opposing what the president has done his first year in office. “It’s all against humanity,” she said. “It’s against the environment, it’s against people, it’s against children, our immigrants.”

Protesters at city hall pushed back, too, singing songs about President Trump and speaking about how they’ve been affected by his administration’s decisions. “My husband is a dreamer,” Cristina Tzintzun, an activist with Jolt Texas, told the crowd, “meaning he lived his entire life, even though he came here as a child, without documentation.”

“My family, like millions of other families, have lived in fear since Trump took office,” she added, standing next to her husband and son on stage.

While another speaker was addressing the hundreds gathered there, a man wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat started blowing an air horn at the front of the stage and shouting to the crowd that they were supporting violence by antifa — shorthand for anti-fascist, which the Associated Press describes as “far-left-leaning militant groups that resist neo-Nazis and white supremacists” at demonstrations.

“We’ve tried very hard to renounce our bad actors, the white supremacists that try to attach themselves to us,” that man, Jon Colgin, told KXAN in an interview later. “We’ve tried to denounce them, and I want the left to do the same.”

While Colgin, was shouting, a man Austin police identified as Alexei Wood, ran up, grabbed the hat off his head and bolted into the crowd. Colgin chased after him and said the two scuffled in the street.

Police broke it up, he said, and put them both in handcuffs. Colgin was released shortly after and pressed charges against Wood, who was taken to the Travis County jail on a theft charge. Jail records show he was back out of jail as of Saturday night.

The incident comes a year after Wood was arrested in Washington, D.C., during Trump’s inauguration, accused of rioting and damaging property. He maintained he was only recording video during the event as a freelance journalist, and last month was acquitted along with five others.

Colgin said he hopes pro- and anti-Trump groups can find ways to interact that don’t include violence. “I may yell, I may shout, you may shout at me, we may disagree; hopefully we’ll come together,” he said. “But, you know, we need to stop with the hands-on stuff. We need to stop attacking each other.”

KXAN spoke to Colgin at the capitol — after he had gotten his hat back — where the demonstrators gathered to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion under many circumstances.

Speakers at the capitol urged the crowd to get involved in politics, both by voting and running for office. “Even in the face of loss, there is so much to be gained by fighting for things that we believe in,” former state Sen. Wendy Davis told KXAN after speaking to the gathering. The large crowds were encouraging, she said.

“It demonstrates that the women’s march was not a one-time thing and a one-day event,” Davis said. Ready to act on the energy in the crowd were groups like the League of Women Voters, there to register new voters and to update information for those already registered.

Also among those on the capitol grounds were supporters of the president, including Colgin and Jeremy Brooks, an organizer with the Texas Patriot Network. He said a few dozen Trump backers showed up to make sure their voices were heard, too.

“We want people to understand that we voted for Trump, we believe in Trump, and we still back Trump,” Brooks said. “The economy is starting to stabilize, you have unemployment at the lowest it’s been, I believe, in 17 years, there have been millions of jobs created.”

He’s ready to vote for the president again. “When I hear him speak, I hear him talk, and I see the things he’s doing, it’s like a regular person is up there doing it.”

Regardless of where those in the crowd fell on the political spectrum fell, their voices were hard to ignore Saturday. “It’s for the people,” Gonzales said. “Government for the people, of the people — that’s what we want.”

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