Men take down anti-immigration banner in Fort Worth
Within two days, an anti-immigration banner was hung from a busy Fort Worth bridge and a hate group’s fliers were distributed throughout the city.
The banner declared “deport them all” and was hung from the Morningside Bridge on I-35 on Tuesday. The bridge, located near West Berry Street, is in a primarily Hispanic area, according to Fort Worth demographics.
According to a video from United Fort Worth, a grassroots, cross-cultural alliance group — a group of Hispanic men — took the banner down when they saw it on the way to work. One of them said he saw the man who put the sign up, but the man was wearing a mask.
“I just want to say that around here, we’re not going to tolerate none of that,” one of the men says in a video posted by United Fort Worth. “This is our city. We’re here to stay. We’re gonna let them know, we’re going to be here no matter what, they can’t do nothing. We’re not doing nothing bad.”
“We just ask our city leaders to stand with us in solidarity to condemn this act in Fort Worth. This affects us all as a community,” another man said.
On Thursday, fliers were posted around the city with statements such as “Reclaim America” and “Better dead than Red” above a Communist symbol.
The group Patriot Front took responsibility for the fliers on its Twitter page. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Patriot Front is an alt-right, white-supremacist group based in Texas.
According to the ADL, 19-year-old Thomas Ryan Rousseau leads the group. He is known for leading the Vanguard America Texas during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Mindia Whittier, community organizer for United Fort Worth, said the group wants to hear from city officials concerning the banner and fliers.
“These are types of hate events that have to be met with very swift and definitive messages to denounce them to make sure people know they are not acceptable in our community,” she said.
“The reason we got here and why people feel emboldened to this is because we don’t have history in our community of taking a stand against racially biased laws, like Senate Bill 4, and have a history where our city has created an environment where people feel it’s acceptable.”
Whittier said the group tagged Mayor Betsy Price and city council members in a Facebook post, but city officials have not issued public statements.
“When they don’t address it, the silence says as much as a statement would say,” she said.
Fort Worth police said they did not receive calls about either incident. Whittier said she reported the signs and banner to three Fort Worth officers through email Thursday and Friday morning, but had not received a response as of Friday at 10 p.m.
Thursday was not the first time Patriot Front has posted white supremacist messages in the area.
Similar posters by Patriot Front were reported in north Arlington in June. They urged people to report undocumented immigrants to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Since Patriot Front’s inception, the ADL has recorded 187 incidents in which the group’s propaganda has been distributed around the country, with 47 in Texas and nine in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, according to a previous interview with ADL.
Patriot Front tweeted photos of fliers posted in Fort Worth on July 23, Aug. 17 and Aug. 25.
Since July, the group has also tweeted photos of fliers it says it posted in Irving, Roanoke, McKinney, Grand Prairie, Edgecliff Village, Keller, Plano and Hurst.
By Friday morning, most of the fliers had been removed in downtown Fort Worth, but one remained on a fire hydrant at the corner of Main Street and West 1st Street until shortly before noon, when it was removed by a member of United Fort Worth.
The other fliers were stuck to a lamp post near the Central Library, a newspaper box near Jos A. Bank clothing store, and over a poster for the movie “Fahrenheit 11/9” on the AMC Palace Theater.
Staff writer Stephen English contributed to this report.