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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

Other Collin County residents attended the rally but were not charged and remained unapologetic.

“It was the most historic event we’ve ever done,” Diane Andrews, 50, said as she sat on her patio in nearby Plano last week showing off photos and video of herself outside the doors of the Capitol, posing with broken windows and the so-called Q Shaman in his horned hat.

Andrews and her friend Lee Jenkins, a hair stylist, said they joined the crowd “storming the Capitol” but insisted most protesters were peaceful and didn’t deserve to be charged. The women said they had considered entering the building too, but decided not to because they feared the tear gas would aggravate Jenkins’ asthma.

After they returned to Texas, Jenkins’ Twitter account was removed. FBI agents interviewed Andrews at her home several times, she said. Neither woman was charged.

Photos Andrews had posted online were circulated. Although Jenkins — whose business had just reopened after the pandemic lockdown — lost some liberal clients, she said she gained conservative ones, as did Andrews, who works as a dominatrix.

As Andrews’ son and dog played nearby, the women explained that they are “middle right,” not extremists.

 

“We’re insurrectionists?” Andrews said, and laughed.

They watch Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and follow conservative Telegram online channels. They believe aspects of QAnon theory, including that the government has been infiltrated by pedophiles, and bridle at it being called a conspiracy: “It’s no longer a conspiracy theory when I can show you facts,” Jenkins said, wearing a “Jesus Matters” T-shirt, a nod to conservative opponents of Black Lives Matter, which Andrews dismissed as “Marxist.” The pair draw their information from online reports and controversial documentaries like “Vaxxed.”

Andrews doesn’t wear masks or social distance, and switched her 8-year-old son to private school after public schools eliminated in-person classes. The women say they are not anti-vaccine — Andrews vaccinated all three of her children as babies — but said they oppose COVID-19 vaccines, which they consider untested. They recently attended a conservative anti-vaccine conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, whose headliners included Trump supporters such as attorney Lin Wood and My Pillow CEO Michael Lindell.

They said they appreciate North Texas’ growing diversity and resent being labeled racist for opposing Black Lives Matter and supporting restrictions on immigration.

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