It was a quiet scene inside the El Paso Republican Party annual Lincoln Dinner on Saturday evening.
Hundreds of El Paso Republicans showed up to hear this year’s keynote speaker, Governor Greg Abbott, at the Blackstone Ballroom in central El Paso.
It was a packed house—the dinner sold out.
But Governor Abbott’s appearance came with some controversy.
The event attracted dozens of protesters, who stood on the sidewalk, marching and chanting, outside the venue for hours as the dinner got underway.
The protesters vocalized their opposition towards Governor Abbott’s views on certain hot button issues, like his stances on the LGBTQ community, environmental issues like the Comanche Trail Pipeline, and Senate Bill 4, which would ban sanctuary cities in Texas.
“It's going to create havoc and split families and it's going to hurt out community and so I'm here in support,” said protestor Amaya Ettien.
As those attending the dinner poured into the venue in the hours leading up to the big event, many seemed unfazed by the protest. They told CBS4 they were just excited to hear the governor speak, and that the protesters had every right to voice their opinions.
“It's freedom of speech. People can express their opinions however they want,” said Moises Blankenship, who attended the dinner.
“They do have the right to express themselves. And it's a very pacific thing,” said his friend, Sergio Baltazar.
The protesters left shortly after the governor arrived to the venue around 7 p.m.
Spirits were high when Governor Abbott came out to speak, reiterating his state of the state speech to the group of El Paso residents.
Some of the topics he covered were SB4 and education issues.
“It’s not a strong Republican location and for him to choose El Paso as his location to give this speech, it means a lot to us,” said Adolpho Telles, chairman of the El Paso Republican Party.