In Austin, we build bridges, not walls

Austin gathers this morning as a united community in a divided country.

I understand that you’re angry and scared, hurt and confused. Many of us are. Including me. I want you to know that you are not alone.

I also know that you are strong, determined and resolved. That you are prepared to protect your rights and your friends, neighbors and families. Again, I want you to know that you are not alone.

We do not know how the Trump presidency will play out. We do know enough, based on what has been said this past year, to be anxious about the possibilities.

In this time of uncertainty, I stand here certain about one thing: Austin will not waver.

Austin has been a visible and outspoken champion for justice, equity, and opportunity. And nothing that happened this week changes who we are as a community, our values and our culture.

In Austin, we will continue to be a city where neighbors care for one another, where we instinctively and reflexively reach out to comfort and protect those around us, where we celebrate everyone’s right to love, where we value and cherish families and will fight to keep them together, where newly gained access to health care must not be lost, where we fight to protect religious freedoms and honor religious differences, where women’s rights are civil rights, where we recognize that we are a country of immigrants and that our rich diversity has always been and will always be one of our greatest strengths, and most importantly, where everyone living in Austin deserves to feel and to be safe and welcome.

In Austin, we build bridges and not walls.

We know what it’s like to be challenged for being who we are – for “Keeping Austin Weird.” Yet, Austin is still here. Austin has always been unapologetically Austin. In Austin we do things our way — we won’t stop now.

I respect the Office of the Presidency. That is important for our country’s democracy. And, I am ready to give our new President the chance to govern fairly and consistent with our Constitution and the laws of our country.

At the same time, we will remain vigilant and prepared. We will stay true to who we are as a city and a community. We will stay true to our neighbors, brothers and sisters, and friends gathered here today and around our city.

We must affirmatively and visibly reject and call out those across the country who would harass, abuse, and assault people of color, women, and the LGBT community. Silence in the face of prejudice encourages evil because it can be taken as acquiescence or even worse, as approval. People's concerns can’t be ignored and dismissed, as has happened in history when people shout from margins. This is about our values of fairness and justice for all people.

The opposite of hatred is not love – it is indifference. We need this work more today than ever in our country. Austin needs to actively lead the way to dismantle institutional racism and systemic inequities.

Mi familia y mis hijas también tienen miedo. Iremos juntos, ustedes y yo, por el camino frente a nosotros. Quiero que sepan que sus líderes, en este edificio que se encuentra a nuestras espaldas, nos compro-metemos a la seguridad de Ustedes y de sus familias. No están solos.

[My family and my daughters are scared, too. You and I, we will walk these coming days together. You need to know that your leaders, in this building behind us, are committed to your safety and to your families. You are not alone.]

President-elect Trump says he wants to make America great. He should come to Austin. Austin is the best city in the country. We have challenges that we must meet and opportunity is not shared by all, but still, we are a great city:

  • To start a small business
  • And to get a good job.
  • To take advantage of a growing economy
  • And we do this by staying true to who Austin is.

We are a city that knows we can protect our fragile environment and natural beauty, without stifling our economy.

We are a city that knows you can protect the rights of workers without destroying businesses.

We are a city that knows people who are deserving of a second chance should get one.

A city that knows that it can be one of the most welcoming of those fleeing terror from around the world, yet also one of the safest

cities in the country.

Austin is great because we take care of one another.

We succeed in Austin not in spite of our differences but because we know our differences make us stronger.

In Austin, America is great.

This week, mayors across the country have stepped forward to reassure their communities that cities will stand together to protect their residents. There is great power in cities united.

Feel that strength. Because that is your power, too. You are not alone. We are not alone.

Look around you. Look up here. Look at me. We stand together.