An advocacy group called the Texas Freedom Coalition was the organizer of the rally.
Speakers at the rally included grassroots activists, current and former legislators, candidates for elected office, and Shelley Luther, who recently made headlines defying authorities in opening her hair salon in Dallas.
“You guys are so awesome. I am so proud of you for standing up for what you believe in,” Luther told the crowd of about 200.
“I think instead of keeping Austin weird, we should keep Austin open.”
In keeping with Luther’s problems of re-opening her business, several speakers called for a rapid opening of the state.
But the more prominent theme was concern about the state’s actions restricting the freedom of Texans.
“You’re here because you have these freedoms,” said Allen West, former Florida congressman and current candidate for chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. “You’re here because you have these liberties. And even still today, there are men and women standing on freedom’s ramparts so that you can have victory.”
West took particular exception to a $295 million contract the state of Texas has awarded for coronavirus contact tracing efforts.
“Victory is not using taxpayer money, $295 million for a 27-month contract to have people come out here and trace us,” he told the crowd.
San Antonian attendee Gregory Switzer was concerned about the government’s efforts to ensure compliance with its orders.
“The mayor of San Antonio has gone completely out of his mind,” he said. “And it’s deliberate. It’s a deliberate practice of social behavior modification.”
He believes that Texans should stand up to such practices.
“They need to just tell officials to get out of their pockets and their lives and go back with their way of life, to open up their businesses and get back to work,” Switzer said.
Another attendee, Elena, came to Texas from Washington state with her husband and daughter. She was born and raised in the Soviet Union. She expressed her disappointment in how Texas has responded to COVID-19.
“We moved here specifically to be more free, to raise our child in a place that is very patriotic,” she said. “I think that Texas could do better and I’m disappointed to see all the bigger cities, what Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and Austin have done.”
Like others at the event, Elena pointed to the need for citizens to hold their elected officials accountable to the higher laws of our country and state.
“The Constitution matters,” she said. “Each amendment in the constitution is there for a reason, and we need to speak up. I think that people will need to get very active. And I think we have that going on right now.”
Former Dallas area state Senator Don Huffines pointed to Governor Greg Abbott as the primary official who should be held accountable.
“Do you know who’s responsible for the devastation of our economy?” Huffines asked the crown. “More than 2.3 million Texans have filed for unemployment. How we responded in this state came from one man.”
“What did the governor do?” he continued. “He made hundreds of thousands of people dependent on the state.”
State Representative Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) pointed to a higher authority that Texans should look to in their fight for liberty.
“I fear God and God is in control. That’s how our country was founded, not because we fear the enemy. But because we knew that we had God-given rights,” he said. “What we don’t hear that much is that God is the one in control of all things and that nothing happens without his notice. It is in God that we live and we move and we exist.”
Motivational speaker Chad Prather linked the lack of fearing God with progressive activism at the ballot box.
“Now we’re seeing the rise of socialism, the rise of anti-God rhetoric, and anti-God practice,” he told the crowd. “And that philosophy has prevailed, not only the United States, but in the state of Texas. There are people who exist to do nothing more than to flip this state blue. And I believe along with you, if we raise our voices and our spirits today, we will say, no, thank you. God bless Texas. God bless America.”
Organizers of the event planned to gather at the Texas governor’s mansion Saturday evening at 6 p.m. to present to Governor Abbott a declaration of his responsibilities under the U.S. and Texas constitutions.
Correction: A previous version of the article misstated that Kevin Whitt was affiliated with the Texas Freedom Coalition, which he was not.
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Bill Peacock is a writer and public policy consultant in Austin, TX. He has extensive experience in Texas government and policy on a variety of issues, including economic regulation, energy, taxes and budgets, property rights, and corporate welfare. His work has focused on identifying and reducing the harmful effects of regulations on the economy, businesses, and consumers.