Oct 18, 2020

Trump March Fizzles in Downtown Austin

Reporting Texas

Conservative political commentator DeAnna Lorraine speaks during the March 4 Trump Rally at Wooldridge Square on Oct. 17, 2020.  Mizelle Mayo/Reporting Texas

With President Donald Trump trailing opponent Joe Biden by double digits in national polls, about 50 diehard supporters of the president gathered for an event dubbed “March 4 Trump” in downtown Austin at noon on Oct. 17.

“Donald Trump is the candidate that puts America first,” said Jen Loh, organizer of the event. The event was conceived to counter the media’s overly critical portrayal of Trump’s presidency, said Loh, president of the group Texans United for America.

The march, the fourth annual iteration of the event, attracted a smaller crowd than previous marches, which have seen upward of 300 attendees. The marchers were unfazed by the lackluster turnout and insisted it wasn’t a sign of flailing support for an embattled president.

Most marchers were members of the Central Texas and Austin chapters of the Proud Boys, a male-only far-right group. A Proud Boy who refused to give his name said rumors of a confrontation with antifa supporters had, in part, drawn him to the rally. 

Wearing combat vests and dressed in black and yellow, the Proud Boys listened to several speakers under an overcast sky in Wooldridge Square before marching five blocks to the Texas Capitol. 

Proud Boys gather in Wooldridge Square Park on Oct. 17, 2020. Mizelle Mayo/Reporting Texas

DeAnna Lorraine, a conservative activist from California, spoke first. Lorraine — dressed in a shirt with the images of Mark and Patricia McClosky, the St. Louis couple who brandished guns as Black Lives Matter protestors marched through their gated neighborhood — warned of a communist takeover should Democrat Joe Biden win the upcoming election. 

“The most important election in history is upon us. This will determine if the America we know and love is going to be here,” Lorraine said.

Lorraine, a commentator for the website Newsmax, has claimed Democrats purposely infected Trump with the coronavirus, promoted QAnon conspiracy theories and called the television show “The Masked Singer” part of a “demonic” plot to force people to wear face masks.

The Proud Boys cheered as Lorraine spoke.

While no confrontation with antifa materialized, several Trump supporters did hurl insults at a small group of people who had shown up for a Women’s March which was set to start at 2 p.m.

Owen Shroyer, a conservative commentator at InfoWars, a Central Texas-based  conspiracy website, attended the event in support of Trump. “How can you support a child molester like Joe Biden?”  Shroyer shouted into a megaphone. In September Trump shared a tweet that accused Biden of pedophilia. The unfounded smear has been debunked.

The women’s marchers didn’t respond to Shroyer.

Adam Kranz, a 23-year-old Women’s March supporter, said his work experience helped him through the altercation. 

“I used to work in bar security. That guy was a joke,” he said in reference to Shroyer’s antagonistic style. 

Owen Shroyer, a conservative commentator from InfoWars, speaks during at the March 4 Trump Rally in Wooldridge Square Park on Oct. 17, 2020. The Proud Boys and Shroyer surrounded Women’s March protestors, pictured sitting here. Mizelle Mayo/Reporting Texas

March organizer Loh blamed Facebook for the low turnout. She said Facebook had banned her several times and the social media giant probably restricted the event.

She also noted that Trump Trains, in which caravans of cars show their support for the president, could have drawn supporters away from the march.

Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project, a Democratic research and communications political action committee, said events like the march don’t push undecided voters to Trump.

“Yes, it does have an impact. It helps Democrats,” he said. The more visibility given to supporters’ far out views helps to drive away fair-minded voters, he added.

Holding a sign that read, “Make America Pray Again,” Ausitnite Haley Jane, 34, said that despite polling that shows Biden with a double-digit lead nationally, she is confident Trump will win. She comes from a family that has traditionally supported Democrats, but she’s all in for Trump.

“I just want America to go back to what it was,” she said.