Feb. 12 (UPI) -- As U.S. President Donald Trump was calling for construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall to be completed during a rally at Texas's El Paso County Coliseum, former Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke led a rally across the street condemning the idea.
"Walls do not save lives; walls end lives," O'Rourke told the crowd of thousands Monday night.
The March for Truth Rally was organized by 40 community organizations in El Paso in response to Trump's visit and disparaging comments he had made about the city during his State of the Union address earlier this month.
"The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime -- one of the highest in the entire country, and considered one of our nation's most dangerous cities," Trump said. "Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of the safest cities in our country."
Earlier Monday, O'Rourke told journalists the West Texas city was safe prior to the wall and, in fact, crime has slightly gone up since it was erected.
He accused the president of using El Paso as a "prop to make his case for a border wall."
"Our safety is a result of treating one another with respect and dignity," O'Rourke said.
The one-mile march began near Bowie High School and passed the coliseum and terminated at Chalio Acosta Sports Center where the former El Paso congressman said he was taking a stand against the president.
"With the eyes of the country upon us, all of us together are going to make our stand, here in one of the safest cities in the United States of America -- safe not because of walls, but in spite of walls," O'Rourke said.
Trump has been trying to secure funding for the construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall but has been stymied by Democrats who have been staunchly against the idea.
The stalemate most recently resulted in the longest government shutdown in U.S. history at 35 days. The government reopened late last month, but funding will run out again if a deal isn't reached by Friday.
During O'Rourke's speech, there were chants for him to run for president, which he has said he would consider.
O'Rourke ran for U.S. Senate in November against incumbent Republican Ted Cruz. He lost by 3 points.