White Lives Matter rally, counter-protest planned at Capitol

Texas Capitol (KXAN Photo/Andy Jechow)
Texas Capitol (KXAN Photo/Andy Jechow)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A White Lives Matter gathering on Saturday morning plans to send a message to the capital city: equal justice under the law.

Ken Reed, the rally’s organizer, is traveling from Houston to bring that message straight to the front steps of the Capitol in Austin.

“There’s lots of white people that are killed by police as well; there’s whites that are killed by minorities as well and you don’t see it having such national media attention.”

Reed says it’s not necessarily about protesting hate crime laws. Instead, it’s how they are portrayed.  “These people’s lives matter too, they’re forgotten. They might be on page six of the newspaper, a little small article, so we wanted to be a voice for those people,” Reed said.

Texas Law defines hate crimes as crimes motivated by prejudice, hatred or advocacy of violence, including crimes covered under the Hate Crime Statistics Act. Those are “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, gender and gender identity.”

The latest Texas Department of Public Safety statistics for hate crimes are from 2014. Of the 198 people charged with hate crimes in Texas that year, about 67 percent were white, 18 percent black and the rest were other racial groups or unknown.

There is a group planning to show up and argue against The White Lives Matter movement. The group did not respond to KXAN requests for comments, but fliers posted around town, including one outside Huston-Tillotson University, describe their goal with the words: “No to Nazis, No to Racists, No to Fascists.”

A banner posted online titled “Protest White Lives Matter Rally” has the message, “Come out, mask up, bring your friends and give them no platform.”

Gov. Greg Abbott wants the targeted killing of a police officer to be deemed a hate crime in Texas. He’s urging lawmakers to send him a bill to sign during next year’s legislative session. Reed says the activists with the White Lives Matter group support that move.

Reed says it comes down to fighting for equality of the law. “Other races are encouraged to promote and be proud of who they are but as soon as a white person says ‘hey, I’m concerned about my peoples self interests, I’m concerned about our place in this country in the future,’ they’re labeled a racist.”

Saturday’s demonstration is scheduled just after the dedication of the Texas African-American History Memorial on the south lawn of the Capitol. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and is open to the public. The memorial honors African-American Texans and their contributions to our state.

The White Lives Matter protest starts two hours later. Reed told us the timing with the memorial is purely coincidental, saying he had no knowledge of the monument dedication.

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