January 7, 2018

Update: Dr. Mann reports that the Sheriff has agreed to step up patrols to address the situation.

It’s officially become a tactic among some conservatives: if you can’t beat them, then threaten them. Fearful of the blue wave headed their way in 2018, a small group of right-wing nut jobs have taken to death threats and literal assault to help their Republican candidates win.

Last year, the Democratic challenger to Republican Steve King of Iowa, Kim Weaver, was forced to drop out do to death threats to her and her family. King, a known white supremacist, stated he thought the threats were fake. In Binghampton, NY, the Democratic mayoral candidate dropped out after he was threatened and then assaulted by a conservative supporter while with his child.

On Friday, Texas’ 31st District Democratic challenger, Dr. Christine Eady Mann, appears to have become the latest target.

Dr. Mann’s husband, Travis, had placed a large political sign for his wife on a supporter’s property in Leander, TX (Williamson County) on Thursday. Within 24 hours, the property owners had discovered a noose left hanging over the sign. I interviewed Dr. Mann on Saturday, January 6, the day after finding the noose. She stated that the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office responded and claimed that there was little they could do.

According to deputies, it was not known if the noose was intended for the residents or for Dr. Mann. The residents have had run-ins with locals before who have threatened them for being lesbians. But as Dr. Mann pointed out, the noose was left on her sign, and her campaign manager (Jaquita Wilson-Kirby) is an African American who has been involved in social justice issues within the community.

“The deputies wouldn’t even step up patrols in the area,” Dr. Mann stated. “The noose’s presence is a reminder of the horrible situation in this country and that there are still people who feel this way.”

Williamson County has a long history of racist culture.

Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Daughters of the Confederacy are still prevalent in the Williamson County area even today. In 1916, the Daughters of the Confederacy bought and placed a statue of a Confederate soldier at the Williamson County courthouse entrance. Thus, forcing anyone needing to enter the courthouse, which is paid for by all its citizens, to pass under the Confederacy’s watchful gaze.

In 2015, after the South Carolina AME church shooting by a Confederate sympathizer, locals had enough and demanded the soldier be moved to a museum or that the Mayor place a plaque next to it describing the history of slave life. He refused.

Instead, Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross’ response was to place a statue of the town’s prosecutor, Dan Moody in the town square. Since Moody had prosecuted four Ku Klux Klan members for whipping and tarring a traveling salesman in 1923, he reasoned the statues evened out each other.

Obviously, the sentiment was lost on the African American community. As Juanita Wilson-Kirby (Dr. Mann’s campaign manager) pointed out at the time, Moody meant nothing to the black community. What Mayor Ross failed to point out was that Moody was also a racist. He even argued that the Democratic party during the 1940’s was a private party and shouldn’t be forced to allow persons of color to vote in their primaries. Just because he prosecuted some Klan members didn’t make him an ally. Besides, the salesman they attacked was a white man.

Then there's the latest firing within the sheriff's department. Reportedly two officers were discovered to be members of the KKK and had tried to recruit a third officer. The sheriff stated that there were no known complaints against the officers but that they were fired when it was discovered they belonged to a hate group. Good for the sheriff, yet at the same time, it shows just how prevalent white supremacy is in Williamson County and the status some of these racists can hold.

Should this attack against Dr. Mann turn out to be the work of her opposition, it proves white supremacy is still a strong presence in Williamson County. The refusal of the Mayor and the City Commission to remove racist statues and the apparent disinterest of the Sheriff’s Office to investigate the matter only add to the impression that the leaders of the community are at the very least sympathetic to the white supremacists.

We should expect more of this behavior from conservative crazies. Think about it: their president is a child, criminal and admitted sexual assaulter, their party just endorsed a pedophile for a Senate seat, they just had their taxes increased and will have their welfare and healthcare taken away to make the rich richer…no wonder they’re pissed.

As Dr. Mann said during our interview, “We won’t be frightened or intimidated by it.”

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