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'Skewed and out of whack': Right-wing extremism flourishes in North Texas suburbs

Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

In November, residents petitioned and voted to recall the city’s only Black council member, La’Shadion Shemwell, after the Los Angeles native read a “Proclamation for a Black State of Emergency” during a council meeting. Shemwell, whose district was majority minority, filed a federal lawsuit in an unsuccessful attempted to stop the recall, saying it would “dilute the voting strength of Black and Latino voters in McKinney.”

After the Capitol insurrection, some Black residents spotted white neighbors — including those in law enforcement — in videos and photos of the riot posted online. Tutson, a former City Council member in the nearby city of Anna, said he confronted a police officer running for McKinney City Council whom he had seen in pictures from the riot. He said the officer told him: “It wasn’t as bad as the media showed it on TV.”

“They’re just common, everyday people. You would never know they were holding these grudges or have this sentiment [of] ‘They’re taking over, this element moving into Collin County,’” Tutson said of some right-wing residents’ view of people of color.

On March 14, a 26 year-old Black man, Marvin Scott, died at the county jail in McKinney after being restrained by several sheriff’s deputies in what the coroner ruled was a homicide. The deputies were fired, but no one has been charged in connection with the killing.

Local conservatives have focused instead on opposing pandemic mask mandates, business shutdowns and vaccines. They rallied around state proposals to allow permit-less gun ownership, expand voting restrictions and ban teaching critical race theory in schools.

“I firmly believe that D.C. was just a test run,” Tutson said. “They are willing to take this to the more local levels, and you’re going to start seeing these same results of what happened in D.C. in various cities, your county seats all throughout the U.S.”

 

Mayor Fuller, who supported pandemic restrictions and refused to support Trump, has felt the sting of Republican extremists. He was tricked into attending a mask-burning party during his reelection campaign this spring. Last month, his wife was targeted by conservative opponents on Facebook with a photo purporting to show her flipping the bird (she was making a peace sign).

Fuller said the municipal election this month, which pitted a slate of pro-Trump Republican challengers against moderates, became a test on the party’s future: “We are either going to destroy ourselves from within or have a reset.”

Those charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot include lawyers, retirees, tech executives and veterans; among them was McKinney resident Kevin Sam Blakely, 55, who did not respond to requests for comment. Others included Jenna Ryan, 50, of nearby Frisco, who flew to Washington in a private plane with two fellow Realtors who live in the area and did not respond to requests for comment.

All now face federal charges in connection with the riot after Ryan posted photos on social media of herself inside the Capitol. Ryan declined to comment last week via email, but said she will after her case is resolved.

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