Gainesville, TX is Anywhere, America and like many small rural towns in Texas is thriving with the racism and hate of the Confederate.
(Correction: a picture and paragraph were deleted from this article, which mistakenly identified David H. Walters as his son, David D. Walters, a Cooke County Deputy, as someone who liked a Facebook post calling for armed militia to come to Gainesville. The mistake was made identifying the wrong David Walters based on pictures of David D. Walters on David H. Walters Facebook page. David D. Walters, the Deputy, did not like a post calling for armed militia to come to Greenville. Living Blue in Texas regrets this case of mistaken identity and will always strive for honesty and transparency.)
On July 3, we published an article called “Armed White Supremacists Confronted a Peaceful Protest in Gainesville.” Since then, there has been a lot going on in Confederate Rural North Texas.
In a small community like Gainesville, where you wave at people when driving by and know all your neighbors by the first name, last week’s march and counter-protests is the town-talk of the week.
One of the Democratic groups there were infiltrated by a mole who had been taking screenshots of their posts and sending them to the white supremacists that were at last week’s march.
Michelle Angus, a member of the private Facebook group for Cooke County Democrats said, “We are unable to discuss sensitive matters in the group right now because someone is capturing our discussions and sharing that with people who have explicitly stated an intent to do physical harm to the protesters of the confederate monument. It is disappointing, but we will find more private ways to keep our discussions going. It is of utmost importance that we keep the safety of the protesters and their supporters at the heart of all our actions.”
Jessica Luther Rummel.
The article we wrote last week was a summary and explanation of events from a live Facebook video posted by Denton activist, Jessica Luther Rummel.
During the video, not only were the “counter protesters” (AKA white supremacists) waving a Confederate flag, they were shouting threats, and chit chatting with police nearby who refused to take reports.
In a matter unrelated to the Gainesville Confederate monument, Denton County Sheriff, Tracy Murphree, this week said he is refusing to enforce Greg Abbott’s mask order. And it just so happens to be Jessica who has taken up the charge of having him removed for failure to do his job and putting Denton County residents at risk.
Over this last week, Jessica has been bombarded online with all sorts of death threats and threats of violence.
I got a chance to talk her today, to get her take on things, to learn more about North Texas’ history, and the response to the two matters she has been involved in this week.
Jessica is intelligent and well educated on the history of racial violence in North Texas, and more specifically Denton County and the immediate surrounding area.
She was also kind enough to share with me screenshots of the online threats she has received, pictured below.
All of these threats have been reported to the FBI.
They have also been shared widely online, because it’s time to de-normalize this behavior.
I asked Jessica if she thought the threats were coming from her organizing the efforts to oust Sheriff Tracy Murphree or because she was at the march last week and documented their entire behavior. She believes it is both and some overlapping.
“It’s all part of their narrative,” she told me, “That’s why I call them the 21st Century Ku Klux Klan. The only difference is, now they show up without their faces covered. They use the same rhetoric, tactics, agenda, and language. It’s important to call a spade a spade.”
And she’s right.
A comparison of the tactics used by the Confederate “Counter-Protesters” in Gainesville, and the KKK of the past.
The Ku Klux Klan was an instrument of fear. Black people, Jews, and even white civil rights workers knew that the fear was intended to control, to keep things as they had been in the south through slavery, and after that ended, through Jim Crow.
The dozens of angry white people that showed up in Gainesville on July 1st came fully armed, several in full tactical gear, brandishing long rifles for the sole purpose of generating fear. They did this because they wanted to keep the monument to slavery on the Cooke County Courthouse lawn where it had been for so many years.
In the 20th century, the KKK was successful in spreading that fear, which gripped millions of Americas large in part, because they had the power of all of southern society on their side.
The “counter-protesters” thought as well, they would be successful in spreading fear, because they had the power of the Gainesville Police and Cooke County Sheriff on their side.
North Texas’ long history with racial violence.
Jessica was fantastic enough to share some exerts of her Honor Thesis, (Denton: University of North Texas, 2020), with me. Her thesis is titled: “Legacies of Power: The Cultural Heritage of Theological White Supremacy. A Case Study of Ku Klux-Konfederatism in Denton County, Texas.” But that history wasn’t just limited to Denton. It included Gainesville and Cooke County as well. Which I will now share with you, with her permission.
The secession vote of 1861 offers clear evidence that Union support was high in North Texas as Collin, Cooke, and Grayson counties all voted with resounding opposition to joining the Confederacy. The reaction of North Texans to the Confederate Conscription Act of April 1862 further suggests this strong pro-Union sentiment while also highlighting the brutality of reactionary, pro-slavery Confederate powers in the region. The act, which drafted most all able-bodied men in the south to fight for the Confederacy did offer a few exemptions, particularly for those who held large quantities of persons in bondage, a fact which naturally incensed those forced to fight.
Shortly after the act was passed, thirty men from Gainesville signed a petition to protest these exemptions which was sent to the Confederate Congress When word of the petition made its way back to local officials, opposition leaders were immediately targeted and ousted by local Confederate leaders but those not caught continued to recruit for their resistance movement known as the Union League.
The presence of this movement fueled new rumors of a violent abolitionist uprising in Denton County and surrounding communities. In September 30, 1862, when Confederate leaders attempted to summon a militia in the region, open opposition was still in the air and many blatantly expressed an unwillingness to fight for the Confederate cause, while even more were nowhere to be found.
The Confederate provost Marshal over Denton and surrounding anti-secession voting counties was James G. Bourland, a plantation owner who actively imported and exported human beings across North Texas. When local men failed to muster, he launched a swift response and led State Police on a mass manhunt. Though some managed to escape to the North, at least 150 men from four counties, including Denton were arrested then charged with treason and conspiracy Bourland and Confederate Col. William C. Young, who also participated in slavery, organized a twelve person “citizen’s court” to oversee the fates of their captives.
With seven additional plantation owners added to the panel, the decision was made to convict by majority verses consensus. After an initial round of “trials,” the impromptu jury found seven men guilty of being “leading Unionists” and all were hung immediately. Unsatisfied, a mob of Confederate soldiers hung another fourteen men without trial. A week following these lynchings, Col. Young and another Confederate were assassinated by unknown assailants which sparked renewed calls for Unionist blood.
Many of the persons already exonerated in the first round of Confederate trials in Gainesville were brought back before the jury, which was then overseen by Bourland and the deceased Confederate Colonel’s son, Capt. Jim Young. Nineteen more men were convicted and hung as traitors to the Confederate cause. Word of the events spread quickly across the region as the threat of treason was paramount.
Today, almost 100 years later, there are 63 active hate groups in Texas. 6 of them are in North Texas.
More recent history?
Here is a Confederate flag parade in Gainesville from 2015.
Is Gainesville, TX a sundown town? Before the 1960s Civil Rights era, there is plenty of evidence to substantiate that it wasn’t a safe place for people of color to live.
However in 2020, there hasn’t been too many racial incidents which have made it to the news. But, using that as the sole logic to believe racism no longer exists in that area of North Texas is flawed.
Death of a Black teen on a bridge with a long history of racial violence.
In the 1930s on a local area bridge named Old Alton Bridge, a Black man was lynched by the KKK, before they went back to his home and murdered the rest of his family. Locals also refer to the bridge as Goatman’s Bridge.
Fast forward to 2018 and the story of Lermont-Stowers Jones, a bright young student of Denton High School. Lermont was killed on that bridge following weeks of racist harassment at his school, police labeled it a suicide, but the family is still looking for answers.
To this day, local authorities have still not returned his clothing or cell phone to his parents. To this day, local authorities have still yet to provide a sufficient explanation of his death. Though, they have gone out of their way to criminalize his memory with lies and misinformed press releases about the case.
The local news.
The local news in Gainesville is the Gainesville Daily Register. From what I understand they lean pretty far right nowadays, but it hasn’t always been like that. They used to make laps in the deep-end of the Republican pool. Locals tell me that in the last few years, they haven’t been as bad.
The reason why this is a problem in Gainesville, TX is an area where less than 13% of the population has a college degree and 25% of the town’s residents are living in poverty (nearly double the national average). This town is relying on this partisan newspaper to keep them informed, however, their partisanship is likely hindering their ignorance.
I have heard from a few that the Editor has allowing some progressive Op-Eds and they appreciated it.
The people out there on the other side of the street with guns, yelling at the protesters, although some came from out of town, many of them were local.
Cooke County is a county which voted 86% for Trump. While they were out there, yelling and shouting, many of them were also yelling “Trump 2020” and various talking points that Trump has used in recent weeks to describe anti-racists. Stopping looters, Antifa, and all lives matter, these are all regurgitation of Trump rhetoric.
Jessica explained it best in my conversation with her, “They want to normalize the monument and incorporate it as patriotism. For them it helps bridge the gap between the Confederacy and patriotism.”
The local parade.
What I’ve learned is that in Gainesville, they have a Medal of Honor parade every year. In that parade, many veterans get to sit on the floats and wave at the kids. It is the local college, NTCC, that hosts this parade. For some reason, many of these locals have an association with the Metal of Honor and the Confederacy. Online chatter between the pro-Confederates expressed a concerned that if the Confederate monument is removed, that for some reason they won’t be able to have the Medal of Honor parade anymore, (a big source of community pride).
The question that likely everyone of us is asking ourselves now, is why are these people associating treason with honor? This is brainwashing that has occurred over several decades.
Then, there is their online behavior.
The pro-Confederate side has a fascinating and strange hierarchy within their ranks.
It’s so bizarre to see how they interact with one another on public Facebook pages, groups, and even their own wall. Strange, in the sense like if Donald Trump and Sarah Palin had a baby. Then, they dropped the baby on its head. Multiple times.
The dynamic starts with men, who post on news articles or local organization pages with the same old dribble, “all lives,” and “Trump 2020.” Then they start talking about an Antifa is secretly working with Bill Gates to inject microchips in all of our brains and Obama’s secret alliance with George Soros will make every human on Earth have tails. And if you don’t believe that, you’re a sheeple or libtard. You know the type.
Then, they tell complete lies, which are easy to disprove, because they have mountains of evidence.
This is where the strange part comes in. After they post their lies, some men respond to their posts, but it seems like it is mostly racist elderly white women. I kid you not. This isn’t an isolated incident. It’s most of them. As an outsider, looking in, there appears to be an entire army of racist elderly white women in Gainesville ready to get online and tell you off. Yet, they all repeat the same things over and over again.
Like these Confederate ladies:
Trolls have popped up on our Facebook page accusing us of photoshopping the Confederate flag into the many videos that emerged last week. It is incredibly stupid that the RWNJs have taken on this lie. The march was in favor of taking down a Confederate statue, which triggered dozens of white supremacists to show up… armed to the teeth… to intimidate the anti-Confederates in an attempt to stop their cause. Then they deny the presence of a Confederate flag.
(Yes, these morons vote. )
Statement from the NAACP.
July 8, 2020.
Tonight, July 8th, at 6 pm, PRO Gainesville is planning another rally at their Courthouse lawn. And like last time, the armed white supremacists will be joining them once again. Jessica will be there, as will many other people. We will be pinning her live video to the top of the Living Blue in Texas Facebook page as it’s happening, so it will be easy to find.
We’ll also give y’all a follow up tomorrow and I plan on talking with Jessica again real soon, about more of North Texas’ history in racial violence. It’s important for people to know the chain of event that got us here.
If you can make it to Gainesville tonight or were already planning on going. DO NOT travel alone. DO NOT provoke these racists. Partner with someone. Understand, that you are going into an extremely hostile and potentially dangerous situation. DO NOT place Black men in unnecessary danger by instigating flare ups with counter-protestors; they will be there to protest and protect.
If ANYTHING HAPPENS, call 911 (I don’t care if officers are there). Be safe.