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In Allen, an Armed Right-Wing Group Tried to Intimidate Marvin Scott III Protesters

In this file image, attorney Lee Merritt is demanding the arrests of the officers involved in the death of Marvin Scott III.
In this file image, attorney Lee Merritt is demanding the arrests of the officers involved in the death of Marvin Scott III. Simone Carter
When the men showed up, clad in military-like outfits and carrying firearms, they insisted they were there to protect the city from property damage. Never mind that no property damage had occurred during last Saturday’s Black Lives Matter rally in Allen.

For weeks, protesters have been taking to the streets to rally for Marvin Scott III, a Black man who died in Collin County Jail earlier this year. On Saturday, they came out to call for justice after a grand jury decided not to indict the eight officers who had been present when Scott died.

Then, toward the end of the rally, more than a dozen militiamen showed up. They claimed they wanted to ensure a peaceful demonstration, but protesters say their presence ended up inflaming tensions.

Videos of the incident, filmed by protesters, show the armed men walking alongside local police officers who had been monitoring the demonstration.

Later, the militiamen followed protesters back to the parking lot where they had initially gathered. One of the men wore a shirt with the logo of the Proud Boys, a far-right outfit considered by many to be a hate group.

"We're here to make sure you don't burn down our city," one of the armed men said in a video. "Because BLM is for it [property damage] … That’s not racist. That’s a fact."

At time of publication, the Allen Police Department had not replied to the Observer's request for comment.
As far as facts go, that one seems especially subjective. In any case, Collin County has seen little to no unrest in Black Lives Matter protests, and there’s no good reason to think the demonstrators wanted to burn down their own city.

For weeks, the Scott family has organized protests outside the Collin County Jail and the Allen Premium Outlets, where Marvin Scott was arrested for possession of marijuana shortly before his death.

During these weeks of near-daily protests, there hasn’t been a single incident of looting or property destruction.
Some protests did turn into riots last year after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer.
Although looting happened in some cases and some buildings were set ablaze, most of the protests remained peaceful, according to research.

Meanwhile, police brutality was widely documented during those demonstrations, and counter-protesters often attacked the demonstrations.

"We're here to make sure you don't burn down our city." - militiaman

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Still, some locals in Allen have clung tight to that narrative, although the only incident that’s taken place during Marvin Scott III rallies involved a white motorist accosting demonstrators.

In early May, the agitated man left his car and tried to pick a fight with protesters blocking an intersection for seven minutes in Plano. At one point, he swung at a woman, apparently knocking her phone out of her hand. He has since been charged with assault.

Right-wing media figures and websites immediately leaped into action. Conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec and The Federalist spread the lie that a protester had pointed a gun at the man during the incident, even after the Plano Police Department dismissed the allegation.

Following the incident, Collin County Judge Chris Hill called for "law and order" in the county and suggested that the protesters’ actions had been illegal. In a letter to constituents, Hill compared the protesters to a "schoolyard bully who torments others for his own amusement or profit."

Even Attorney General Ken Paxton joined the fray, issuing a sharply worded letter condemning the Plano Police for not treating the protest more harshly. “I will never allow our beautiful Texas cities and neighborhoods to become Portland or Seattle or San Francisco because of the unchecked left,” Paxton wrote.

It’s hard to imagine that pouring gasoline on that fire didn’t help set the stage for right-wing vigilantes to start showing up at the protests, especially as Judge Hill hasn’t decried the armed counter-protest crowd as bullies.

Spencer Sunshine, a researcher who has studied far-right extremism for years, said it is now common for heavily armed right-wing groups to intimidate protesters.

“This has been extremely common in the last couple of years,” Sunshine explained. “More often than not, they see themselves as extra parliamentary forces upholding law and order, as allied with the police.”

A similar situation occurred during a protest against a Confederate Statue in Weatherford in July 2020, among several other incidents around the country.

"[T]hey see themselves as extra paramilitary forces upholding law and order, as allied with the police." - Spencer Sunshine, researcher

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Sunshine says the motivation for such actions tends to be based in conspiratorial thinking, if not outright lies.

“There’s a lot of implying or complaining that progressive movements are doing things that they’re not,” he said. “And then, they act on that lie. You can see how much they lie when they’re claiming they have to step in to stop looting or property destruction that is not actually happening.”

But the same claims have been amplified by elected officials, including Judge Hill and Paxton. Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick claim that there's an immigrant "invasion" on the southern border. (The same “invasion” rhetoric appeared in a manifesto written by Patrick Crusius, the Allen resident accused of shooting and killing 23 people in an anti-immigrant mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart.)

"It's a very easy choice for a right-wing politician to call for aggressive enforcement of existing laws," Sunshine said. "On the one hand, it’s their job to call for the enforcement of law. But it’s often a safe way for them to side with and show their support for far-right movements."
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Steven Monacelli has been contributing to the Dallas Observer since 2020. He regularly covers local social movements and occasionally writes about food.
Contact: Steven Monacelli