Religion, Politics and the Alamo
The sky was grey, the winds were resiliently cold and tensions were building in front of the Alamo on Friday, Feb. 3 during a rally against Donald Trump.
Protesters, organized by The Autonomous Brown Berets of TejAztlan, arrived at Alamo Plaza carrying signs that read, ‘Xicanx Liberation Day: Rally Against Donald Trump!’
The group, affiliated with the ChicanX Movement, label themselves “a revolutionary group” rather than a non-profit or social club. “We wear a Brown Beret to symbolize action and resistance,” reads a statement on their website.
Despite the rain and cold, the anti-Donald Trump rally continued with approximately 30 people of all backgrounds chanting in front of the San Antonio mission.
Even with people divided by beliefs, the Alamo served as the setting for conversation and listening.
The rally consisted of several speakers from different organizations and communities.
Ricky Saldana, who is a part of the Communist and Anarchists of San Antonio (CASA), an “alliance of radical leftists,” was one of the speakers.
“Aqui estamos y no nos vamos,” or we are here and aren’t leaving, the protestors repeated as traffic passed through Alamo Plaza.
Downtown San Antonio became a place of diverse viewpoints, while Rangers stood by peacefully during Saturday’s rally.
A tourist stopped to read one of the signs with her husband.
“Let’s not give them the satisfaction by paying attention,” her husband advised.
Two men squabbled in front of the Spanish Mission; both were said they were of Christian faith.
Mack Thomas took a sterner stance with his faithful assertions as he gripped a religion-filled banner in his right hand.
“See a homosexual can give up their sins but if they don’t, they will not inherit the kingdom of God,” Thomas shouted in front of the tourist-filled Alamo Plaza. “No liar will inherit the kingdom of God.”
In contrast, Brandon Frazier was more compassionate with his religious views and decided to challenge Thomas.
“We can’t, if we tried with all our hearts, we’ll never be perfect,” Frazier replied to Thomas. “You don’t have to stop being a homosexual to get to heaven.”
Thomas and Frazier eventually parted ways opening more room to social and political issues in front of the Alamo.
Initially, the rally was composed to commemorate the signing of The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican-American War, increased the U.S. territory and resulted in Mexico losing significant land, according to the group.
The Brown Berets connected the 1848 treaty to policies implemented in present-day America.
“Donald Trump’s new administration wants to build a wall, a ban on Muslim people coming in,” Kiani Naranjo, Brown Beret member said. “He is continuing a legacy of oppression and of colonization for our people.”
A passersby, Roy Mendenhall, shared his faith-based perspective about the rally.
“No matter how much we protest, no matter how much we stand out here with signs, it is going to happen regardless,” Mendenhall said “Trump is just a man, so are they protesting him? No, they are protesting God because God is going to do what he said he was going to do.”
At the conclusion of the rally, Saldana said he felt “hopeful” moving forward but shared his perspective.
“It’s important that people show up, but it’s also more important that people find the momentum to keep going,” Saldana said. “It is so much more than showing up to a protest on Sunday and going to work on Monday.”
Saldana defined a “failed protest” as one that is poorly executed.
He communicated a protest must “disrupt societal functions” and grab the attention of outsiders looking in.
Naranjo and Saldana consider Trump’s presidency as a “good thing.”
“I’ve seen more people rising up and wanting to get involved. . .really becoming more passionate about speaking out on the fact, our rights are being violated,” Naranjo said. “I see a lot of solidarity building from people of all communities.”
Saldana echoed Naranjo with a slightly different statement in regards to the president of The United States.
“I think Donald Trump becoming president is the best to ever happen to America. . . not because he is a good president but because he will single-handedly bring down capitalism,” Saldana said. “In times of crisis. . . there will always be a group that rise up, that uses this as an opportunity to help everyone. Only when we reach rock bottom, can we finally ascend.”