After the unrest in Virginia in August, UTD students attended a protest against white supremacy at Dallas City Hall.
On Saturday, Aug. 12, in a counterprotest to a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA, one person was killed and 19 were injured.
Texas Rising at UTD, a political advocacy group, organized members and other students to protest at the Dallas Against White Supremacy rally in front of Dallas City Hall on Saturday.
President of Texas Rising, Christian Briggs, a computer science senior, led the group in rallying at the protest. A major issue for Briggs, like other protesters present in front of City Hall, was the “massive Confederate statue” in Pioneer Park Cemetery.
“It has no history other than the history of racism,” Briggs said. “It’s just glorifying (the confederacy) to give people power. It’s unacceptable and not okay for a city like Dallas.”
The rally on Saturday was a new experience for William Udozorh, a biochemistry freshman who came with the Texas Rising group.
“I came here to protest because my entire life, I was told to not have an argument because of what happen to black people who argue. In the news, you see people getting killed just because you differ on one issue,” Udozorh said. “That’s why I’m here. Now I’m older. I’m 18. I can vote for who I want to and choose a side.”
Udozorh said he felt his goals for protesting were not accomplished in the rally.
“They’re still up. The monuments are still up,” Udozorh said. “My goal will be successful when they come down. It’s pretty much there to instill fear into African Americans, and it has no reason to be up.”
President Richard Benson sent out an email to faculty and staff on Friday, calling on the university to “begin the new academic year with resolve” in light of the “ignoble events.”
Benson stated UTD would “not tolerate behavior or speech on campus that is meant to defame, violate the law or incite violence.”
At the rally, Briggs, who works as a voting registrar for Dallas and Collin counties, asked protesters if they were registered to vote and handed out mail voter registration forms. He said he believes voting in local and state elections is “critical,” as “issues are beyond just President Trump or Obama.”
“One of our own students, who was protected under DACA, was taken by ICE earlier this year,” Briggs said. “It’s huge. The biggest thing that us as students can do to make a massive impact is voting in Richardson and Plano, because those areas are at the tipping point.”
Texas Rising students ended the night by paying their respects to Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer during the tealight candle vigil.
“I think the rally went really well, very peaceful,” said Ilene Mokhayeri, a healthcare studies senior and member of Texas Rising at UTD. “Opinions can change the world. If you’re out here protesting for a good cause, more and more people can see the effect it has, and maybe it’ll help to stop violence in the future. Coming out here, I feel a lot better about these issues.”