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‘Peaceful Demonstration' Held in Response to Denton Incidents

A demonstration was held Tuesday night on the south lawn of the Denton County Courthouse, in response to a pair of incidents over the weekend.

Catherine Giles organized the event, called "Hate is not welcome in Denton County."

"What inspired me are the growing incidences of hate," Giles said. "Either hate speech, or acts of hate."

About 50 people showed up to the event which was held in response to a video that is circulating on social media showing a group of men shouting "Reclaim America" while holding flags and flares outside a Denton rehearsal space.

"We really didn't know what was going on," said the woman who recorded the scene. She asked that her identity be withheld. "It kind of dawned on us that something was wrong."

About a dozen people were gathered outside Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios. The woman said they were members of Patriot Front, a white nationalist group classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"I feel like this was a call to arms," she said. "I feel terrible that this is happening in a community I'm directly involved with."

Later Saturday, Denton police responded to Harvest House, a beer garden and live music venue about a quarter mile away. An employee there was assaulted, after asking a group of men to leave. One of the men had multiple swastika tattoos.

Denton police have not made any arrests in the Harvest House assault. A spokesperson said it was too early to say whether the two incidents were related.

At the peaceful rally on Tuesday night, some held signs while others opted to share a few words. 

Fourteen-year-old Tyler Jackson took the microphone to share his experiences as a trangender teen in Denton public schools. 

"I'm very proud of this county to be so overwhelmingly accepting and diverse, but I feel we still have room for improvement," said Jackson. 

Still, he believed the turnout was a step in the right direction.

Others like Anjelica Fraga said Tuesday's event wasn't enough, saying words must be turned into actions to create change.

“I see these people when there’s a rally happening, when they can bring a sign and stand around and feel like they’re doing something. But then they don’t show up when we need them," said Fraga.

Denton police also had a presence at the rally, to ensure the safety of those attending.  

In addition to organizing the rally, Giles also called on public officials to condemn last weekend's incidents.

"Silence and inaction will continue to increase it, allow it to increase," said Giles. "If we're not part of the solution, by our words and actions, through our silence and inactions we're part of the problem."

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