HOUSTON, Texas — Communists, Democratic Socialists, Brown Berets, anarchists, Black Lives Matter, and other supporters of the “Destroy the Confederacy!” movement marched in the sweltering 99-degree heat in Houston on Saturday to demand that city officials tear down the “Spirit of the Confederacy Statue.” Protesters on both sides openly carried firearms.
Protesters chanted, “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, these racist statues have got to go!” and other chants against Confederate statutes and President Trump. One black protester wore a Ku Klux Klan costume with “BLM” and “Black Lives Matter” markings and a Confederate flag tied to his ankle dragging along the ground.
Police officials told Breitbart Texas that the rally drew less than 500 anti-Confederate statute protesters. They attempted to incite the “opposition” by yelling – “Racists Go Home.”
Protesters erected a makeshift “monument” of their own that included inscriptions of “IMPEACH THE DONALD,” and “SHUT DOWN BRIETBART (sic) ALSO.”
Between 50 and 100 counter-protesters gathered in an area about 100 yards in front of them to express their desire to protect the historic monument. Some carried Confederate flags while others wore Scottish kilts and paramilitary camo gear. Many of the counter-protesters openly carried handguns and rifles and included gray haired Americans in their 60s and 70s.
Anti-Trump and self-proclaimed communist and educator David Michael Smith succumbed to the heat during the protest and had to be aided by medical personnel with the Houston Fire Department. As reported by Breitbart Texas after an anti-Trump protest in Houston last September, the former College of the Mainland tenured political science professor was fired by the board of trustees in 2013. Smith was heard at the fall rally yelling on a bullhorn – “Trump is a racist.”
Destroy the Confederacy organizers said that none of their protesters needed to be armed but Smith and some of his communist comrades were armed with handguns and semi-automatic rifles.
In an apparent attempt to intimidate those on the other side, one of the Destroy the Confederacy protesters chanted – “I know where you live, I know where your brother lives, [sister, grandmother], I know where you Motherfu*kers live!” A photographer standing near him also pugnaciously took photos of those assembled with the counter-protest.
Despite attempts by both sides to agitate the other side, the Houston Police Department (HPD) maintained the peace by keeping both sides separated by barricades. An HPD helicopter was circling above while mounted patrol officers and a large fortification of officers enforced the buffer zone. Police commanders placed additional officers inside the park’s fence in case someone attempted to reach the statue.
As reported by Breitbart News on Thursday, the protest organizers announced they would meet in front of the Spirit of the Confederacy Statue at Sam Houston park across from Houston’s City Hall but warned, “#Do NOT bring children.” Black Lives Matter: Houston, SURJ HTX, and public figure Ashton P. Woods organized the event “monitored” by the A.C.L.U. (American Civil Liberties Union).
Black Lives Matter: Houston posted that Woods told the mayor of Houston – “Mr. Turner, tear those statues down.”
There have been cries by groups to have the Spirit of the Confederacy monument in Houston’s Sam Houston Park removed. Mayor Sylvester Turner told city council Tuesday that he was asking for a study on whether Confederate statues should be removed from city property, reported Houston Public Media.
Dorothy Hablinski told Breitbart Texas, “I am here to protect history, and to protect the Constitution of the U.S.” The self-described pro-history, pro-constitution defender explained, “History makes us who we are and this is a plot to take down our government and is right out of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and the agitation propaganda playbooks.”
The Houstonian in her late 50’s or early 60’s added, “I’m not here to cause trouble but here to protect our God, and not turn from history.”
A woman named Meagan, from Onalaska, Texas, stood with a group who were open carrying firearms. She told Breitbart Texas, “We are here protecting history – not Black Lives Matter – not the KKK.”
Joseph Walker from Port Lavaca, Texas, told Breitbart Texas, “If they get rid of all the statues, what are they going to do next? If you erase history, you are doomed to repeat it.”
A man who went by Brad added, “I am here because I love my nation – the Good, Bad, and Ugly.”
Houston City Council Member Jack Christie told Breitbart Texas that Mayor Sylvester Turner has common sense and is doing the right thing in asking for a study on the issue of Confederate statues on city property. During the interview, he also said, “What next? The statue of General Sam Houston?”
The city of Houston is named after General Sam Houston, the leader at the Battle of San Jacinto that ended the Texas Revolution. General Houston became the president of the Republic of Texas and then governor. He was removed from office when he would not swear allegiance to the Confederacy. He was a slave owner.
HPD officers and Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies kept the protest groups about 100 yards from each other separated by barricades. Members of the HPD mounted patrol stood in the gap between the protesters to maintain the peace.
HPD officers communicated frequently with those from both sides during the protest, including a small group of New Black Panther Party members that arrived near the end of the rally and stood at the perimeter. Members of the New Black Panther Party frequently show up to protests carrying rifles and shotguns.
HPD Assistant Police Chief Larry Satterwhite told Breitbart Texas their officers are highly trained to handle crowds and protesters. He said their goal is to allow protesters the right of peaceful protest while preventing an escalation that leads to violence and property destruction.
Despite both sides being armed and emotions that ran as hot as the Houston summer, police made no arrests, and there were no reports of injury or property destruction. And, although Destroy the Confederacy supporters had been reported to want to tear down the statue, marchers were unable to get anywhere near the Spirit of the Confederacy statue, and the Sam Houston Park grounds were closed to the public. Police officials told Breitbart Texas another group had previously permitted the entire park before the protest rally was scheduled.
Video and photos by Bob Price and Lana Shadwick/Breitbart Texas.