Nearly 200 people rallied for a variety of far-right causes — from support of President Donald Trump to white supremacy — on July 1 at the “1776 Freedom March” in downtown Austin. The event was touted by its organizers, the conservative, pro-Trump group Texans United For America, as a celebration of patriotism and liberty. The tone of the rally, though, quickly morphed into overt jingoism with event speakers such as Augustus Invictus, publisher of the far-right publication The Revolutionary Conservative, calling for the deaths of public figures such George Soros and Hillary Clinton, much to the delight of the applauding crowd.
Kyle Chapman, an alt-right leader who rose to prominence because of his “Based Stickman” persona that includes Chapman performing violent acts against anti-fascist, or antifa, activists while clad in makeshift armor, spoke next. Chapman called for open revolution and frequently wielded the phrase “cultural Marxism.” Shortly after the speakers, attendees began their march through downtown Austin and to the Texas Capitol.
Their demonstration, with fewer than 200 people, was dwarfed by several recent protests in the capital, including the women’s march that turned out 50,000 in January. Last month, a demonstration by about 50 anti-Islam activists was quickly derailed at the Capitol when about 300 counter-protesters, including antifa activists, arrived.
Jinyan Li, a Chinese international student attending Northeastern University in Boston, was visiting the Capitol as the alt-right grandstanding started. Li, on vacation in Texas, was completely befuddled by the rally. “Why is all of this happening?” said Li as she cautiously examined the situation from afar. After the alt-right group pictures were taken by attendants on the Capitol’s south steps, the crowd dispersed.