Earlier this month, a group of a few dozen armed members of the Texas Patriot Network — an extreme right organization supposedly fighting for the “true heart of Texas” — decided to protest the Islamic Society of North America’s conference in downtown Houston.
The scraggly, unkempt group found themselves significantly outnumbered by counterprotesters, and spent most of the day calling for convention-goers to either leave Texas or convert to Christianity. While they were largely peaceful, one Texas Patriot Network, as the Houston Chronicle reported, sprinted past a police barrier to punch a counterprotester.
However, new leaked chat logs show just how much violence the Texas Patriot Network was preparing for — and whom they planned on targeting.
The logs, unearthed by left-wing blog It’s Going Down, reveal that Texas Patriot Network members — who were protesting alongside members of the Soldiers of Odin, a group founded by white supremacists — had planned to isolate and attack counter-protesters.
The Texas Patriot Network members also discussed how to assault counter-protesters where police couldn’t see them. (Said one, “I’m just gonna have to play this out and see if I get lucky. It depends on where the police are gonna be.”) For good measure, the Texas Patriot Network members also laced their back-and-forths with plenty of bigotry along the way, describing the day’s festivities at the conference as full of “stupid little goatfucking music.”
“These leaked conversations, if authenticated, clearly indicate a coordinated plot by armed members of white supremacist and Islamophobic groups to harm innocent civilians,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement. “This potentially deadly plot must be investigated by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and the perpetrators brought to justice.”
As it is, the protest appeared largely a bust for the Texas Patriot Network, which was also joined by members of the so-called “Western chauvinist” Proud Boys group. Not only did counter-protesters significantly outnumber the Texas Patriot Network front, but no one from the convention even appeared that interested in the Texas Patriot Network in the first place.
The protest came about two years after Russian operatives convinced a handful of armed white supremacists in Houston to organize a similar rally. Ironically, the Texas Patriot Network page even featured a post from one of the fake Russian pages, called the “Heart of Texas.”
The Texas Patriot Network group hasn’t gained much state-wide or national attention, and appears to be a knock-off of better-known Texas-based far-right organizations — such as the This is Texas Freedom Force organization behind a massive armed rally in Houston last year.
Like other similar organizations, and despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, the Texas Patriot Network claims they are not white supremacists: “We ARE NOT racists We ARE NOT bigots We ARE NOT a hate group We ARE NOT militia We ARE NOT the silent majority any longer [sic]!”
In a video from the convention, the Texas Patriot Network’s Doc Greene said they were simply there to spread the Christian faith, and to discuss the “power” of the American Constitution. “We’re gonna be down here today sharing the love of our lord, Jesus Christ…and talking about why the Constitution is wonderful and very near to the Holy Scriptures in power,” Greene said. (Greene would later complain about the meager turnout, saying that the “only thing that we’re a little unhappy about right now is we only have about 15 patriots down here.”)
Still, the leaked chats reveal a far darker component of the Texas Patriot Network’s aims — as does a quick glimpse through its Facebook page, which is full of posts from far-right conspiracy sites, posts from Texas secessionists, and claims that Houston is “becoming the slums full of radicals.”
The page also reveals just how sidelined the group appears to be, even within far-right militia circles in Texas. One post earlier this month complained about “trash-talking” the group has received from the more prominent This is Texas Freedom Force. They referred to the head of This is Texas Freedom Force as a “Narcissistic Coward and Bullshit Artist.” It remains to be seen what kind of terms they may have used in other chats that haven’t yet been leaked.