The Weatherford Race Riot in 2020 hasn’t stopped the victims of mob violence from seeking racial justice.
Between 1861 and 1864, four enslaved Black teenagers were lynched on the Parker County Courthouse lawn in Weatherford, Texas. Afterward, their bodies were thrown into the town well. When the townspeople found their water smelling and tasting funny, they buried that well and dug another nearby. There are no records of the bodies ever being retrieved from that site.
In 1915, a Confederate statue was placed near the bodies on the Parker County Courthouse lawn.
Then in 2020, after the George Floyd murder, local Weatherford residents and descendants of two of the murdered teenagers set out to protest the removal or relocation of that statue.
The protesters didn’t expect that their lifelong neighbors, classmates, and even friends, would show up to point weapons at them, assault them, and lash out in racial hatred.
July 26, 2020.
On this hot July day, a local group called “Progressives in Parker County” had planned their second protest on the courthouse square.
The local Sons of Confederate Veterans got wind of the protest and called in their reinforcements. The rumors spread like wildfire. The white baby boomers in Parker County chattered on Facebook about how Antifa was coming to their town to burn everything down. Liars, all of them. The protesters had no affiliations with any Antifa organization and lived locally.
Once the word got out, Oath Keepers, Patriot Front, and Boogaloo Boys poured into town from Wise, Johnson, and Hood Counties. While most of us see the irony of outside agitators coming into town to harass residents while claiming they were the actual outsiders, the situation became very serious to the victims of this crime.
The mob of angry white people showed up with the intent on harassing, hurting, and perhaps even killing Black Weatherford residents.
By God’s grace, no one was killed that day. Instead, the group of protesters showed up, less than 50 of them, on the square to find hundreds of armed individuals waiting for their arrival.
There may have been as many as 500 people affiliated with the domestic terrorist groups the country now knows as January 6 Insurrectionists. Yet, the protesters didn’t turn away, not at first. Why should they? They were only there to hold signs and talk to people about the murdered teenagers under the statue.
Unfortunately, they arrived to slurs of the n-word, shouts to “go back to Africa,” and screams of “get out of my town.”
Almost every single protester was assaulted that day, men and women alike. The white mob pointed guns, pulled knives, and surrounded them.
Even Grantifa, an elderly progressive woman, was mobbed by the crowd. Thankfully, she got away unscathed.
While all of this was going on, Weatherford Police stood by inside the courthouse, watching the chaos from the windows.
The protesters quickly decided to pull out of the situation for their safety. The entire incident lasted less than an hour.
Many of the protesters have told me how this incident changed them forever. They realize how close some of them came to losing their lives that day, but it hasn’t broken them. Instead, they’ve become strong advocates against white supremacy in Parker County and now spend much of their time working for racial justice.
And they haven’t given up the fight against the statue.
What happened after July 26?
The following weekend after, determined to stick to their guns, Progressives of Parker County planned another protest. But, when many of the same militia groups appeared to harass and intimidate again, they called it off.
For many months after that, Progressives of Parker County did show up to protest every week, sometimes multiple times a week, and the angry white people full of hate and violence mostly stopped showing.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans and a local woman who goes by the name Legina (and is an Oath Keeper) still find the time to meet them on the square for every protest.
Sometimes others show up, like “John,” the proud Neo-Nazi who participated in the 2017 hate rally in Charlottesville. His favorite thing to do was heckle the protesters, making fun of Heather Hayes, the young woman killed in Charlottesville. And random Trumplicans who have assaulted Black women because their kids couldn’t get into college.
But, Progressives of Parker County haven’t backed down.
In 2022, they are still fighting for the four young souls whose lives were cut short as their bodies have spent over 100 years under an ode to white supremacy.
Many of the people who were there at the square that day had ties with the Parker County GOP. In February 2021, the county GOP passed a racist resolution condemning people who stood up for Black lives and denounced America. The chair of Parker County GOP when this happened was Mike Olcott. This year Olcott ran for the State House but lost in the primary.
The State Senator of the time, Pat Fallon, refused to take any phone calls from his constituents who were victims of the racist mob that day. Fallon never returned our request for a quote, and he has since become a Texas Congressman.
While in Congress, Pat Fallon has used his time in committees making up lies about Black Lives Matter and Antifa. Ironically, the same lies caused the race riot in Weatherford.
Other elected officials in Parker County have been just as cowardly.
The House Representative at the time was Phil King. King met with the descendants of the murdered teenagers and the local NAACP after the riot. He promised he would help them and even asked them for a picture.
After that meeting, he attended many events and gave speeches to the local militia groups who acted out in violence and hatred toward their neighbors in July 2020.
Parker County Judge Pat Dean has given the family and Progressives of Parker County the same runaround. Below is Judge Dean photographed being chummy with the local Sons of Confederate Veterans group.
Parker County is red, even without the gerrymandering. That may not change anytime soon, but retrieving murdered bodies underneath the Confederate statue shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Unfortunately, one side of the equation cares more about their made-up culture war than they care about justice.
But what about the statue?
Black people in Parker County will never have equal treatment under the law as long as the shadow of injustice hovers above the courthouse.
White supremacist symbology has no place in a location where justice is supposed to be blind. Because of that, Progressives of Parker County will continue to fight, not for the statue’s destruction, but its removal.
A Confederate cemetery nearby is much better suited for the statue’s final resting place
A local Weatherford activist told me that if they have to change one mind at a time, they’ll be out there for decades to come, standing for what’s right.
There is an Indy film being made about they four young men who were slain and buried in that well on the Parker County Courthouse Square and is scheduled to be released later this year. I’ll keep everyone updated on it.
Justice may not come today, but eventually, justice will come.
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