About two dozen isle residents assembled in Galveston on Sunday night to rebuke white supremacists in the aftermath of deadly violence that broke out during a white nationalist rally in Virginia over the weekend.
The impromptu rally in Galveston in front of the Galveston Federal Building, 601 25th St., was intended “to say that hate has no place on our island,” organizer Lyssa Graham-Reynolds said.
The rally comes after a violent white supremacy rally in Charlottesville led to the death of a 32-year-old woman and injuries of several others. James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Nazi sympathizer, on Saturday rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters who had arrived to demonstrate against the white nationalist rally, law enforcement officials said.
“I don’t want to have to explain Nazis to my 4-year-old,” Graham said at the Galveston rally. “It’s wrong and it’s time to stand up against this.”
Gisela Bankston, one of Sunday’s attendees in Galveston, was born in Berlin in 1939, just before World War II, and moved to the United States in 1962. She became an American citizen in 1967 and has voted in every election since, she said.
The events of the weekend shook her deeply, she said.
“I’ve been crying all weekend,” Bankston said. “How dare they do this in this beautiful country. It’s a nightmare. It’s beyond comprehension.”
Attendees criticized President Donald Trump and his administration’s response for not condemning white supremacists or the far-right groups that sparked the violence.
Some of Trump’s closest advisers have drawn criticism for aligning themselves with alt-right groups, which attendees said push white supremacist ideologies.
“This is despicable,” David Bowers, a Galveston resident, said. “White supremacy has taken over your White House. White supremacy has taken over your party.”
Others said they hoped members of the Republican party would take notice of the events and adopt a stronger stance against far-right factions of the party.
“I hope it’s a wake-up call to Republicans that this is what their party has become,” resident Vicki Blythe said. “Trump has created an atmosphere of hate.”
In an appearance after the deadly rally, Trump stopped short of calling out white supremacists and placed blame “on many sides.”
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides — on many sides,” Trump said on Saturday.
On Sunday, the White House issued an unsigned statement condemning hate groups, including white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan and neo Nazi groups.