A wet Sunday afternoon with an unfolding catastrophe in Southeast Texas might have seemed like an unlikely time for a march in Fort Worth.
But it didn’t stop an estimated 500 from gathering downtown for a procession from the JFK memorial to the Tarrant County Courthouse, where speakers took the podium afterward. The message, which the marchers chanted along the way: “Love, not hate.”
Deborah Peoples, one of the organizers of the march and chairwoman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, said the event was something she felt led to do because of what happened in Charlottesville, because of the Fort Worth City Council’s vote against joining a lawsuit against Senate Bill 4 and because of the arrest late last year of Jacqueline Craig and her two daughters.
Peoples said she needed the march and rally to be peaceful — and it was save for one exception — but she also needed it to make a point.
Never miss a local story.
There are some in Tarrant County who were astonished and confused when they saw that people were angered by what happened to the Craig family, Peoples said.
Jacqueline Craig and her two daughters, who are black, were arrested by William Martin, a white Fort Worth police officer on Dec. 21 in an incident that led to claims of police brutality and racism and to the controversial demotion of two high-ranking black police administrators accused of leaking Martin’s bodycam video and personnel file.
Video of the incident went viral on Facebook.
Some were equally astonished and confused when they heard about the slaying in Charlottesville that grew out of a clash between protesters and white supremacists on Aug. 12, Peoples said.
People in Fort Worth have been content to turn a blind eye to the problems between the different races here, Peoples said. We all need to open our eyes about that, Peoples said.
“Fort Worth tries to pretend the wound is not there and it’s not healthy,” Peoples said. “I hope this will be a step towards acknowledging that there is a wound and that we all need to work on healing.”
The march and rally on Sunday is a reaction to what happened in Charlottesville and to what happened to the Craig family, Peoples said, but it is also an effort to encourage diversity and for people to get to know one another.
“You can tell from the vote about SB 4,” Peoples said. “You can tell that there are people who have lived their lives disconnected from the rest of the community.”
Fort Worth City Council voted 5-4 against joining a lawsuit on Aug. 15 that was initiated in June by Maverick County and the city of El Cenizo. Since then, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston have joined the litigation.
SB 4 takes effect on Friday and requires police to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The legislation intends to do away with “sanctuary cities” and permits police to ask about the immigration status of anyone detained. Local police departments cannot impose rules that prevent officers from asking about immigration status.
“We held this march to find common ground and to decry the evil forces that are trying to tear this nation apart,” Peoples said. “We’ve delayed these conversations for too long. I want to help jump-start those conversations.”
In the only apparent disruption Sunday, a man who shouted at the crowd was handcuffed and taken away in a patrol car after he yelled an obscenity at the crowd.
A week ago, an estimated 2,500 people attended a planned rally against white supremacy in downtown Dallas. Tensions grew toward the end as protesters moved to a Confederate monument at Pioneer Park, Dallas police said.