Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo tweeted about this yesterday and has a report; it is getting picked up by more of the press now. Here’s the story from the National Butterfly Center about why they are closed this weekend.
Dear Members, Donors & Supporters,
We are writing to let you know the National Butterfly Center will be closed Friday, Jan. 28 - Sunday, Jan. 30, due to credible threats we have received from a former state official, regarding activities planned by the We Stand America event, taking place in McAllen, TX, this weekend. You may visit the website to see the rogue's gallery of featured speakers and presenters at what is sure to be an inflammatory exercise in free, hate-speech.
This MAGA, mid-term election rally, hosted by Trump's former National Security Advisor and pardoned-criminal, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, is the national, kick-off event for what they are calling their "Take Action Tour."
We were alerted to this event on Friday, Jan. 21, following a visit by a congressional candidate from Virginia. She appeared with a friend, who claimed to be a Secret Service agent, and demanded access to the river so they could "see the rafts with the illegal crossing" our property. (See fake photo of rafts at our dock composed and disseminated by Kolfage & crew.)
When asked to leave, they attempted to film Marianna, while reiterating the malicious and defamatory lies of Steve Bannon and Brian Kolfage, whose concerted, public attacks against the North American Butterfly Association, the National Butterfly Center, and our director, Marianna, remain the subject of the lawsuit we have brought against their "dark money" fundraising organization, We Build the Wall. (See false Kolfage tweet claiming butterflies swarming a decomposing body.)
Read the whole thing.
This is a perfect storm of right wing grifting and rabble rousing, tied in with the insane Trump Wall fixation of the right. As with the D.C. pizza parlor conspiracy theory, they believer the center is involved in child sex trafficking and also smuggling people across the border. Apparently this is taken as an article of faith by the cult.
We made the difficult decision to close the center when Marianna was advised by the former state official (whose daughter is the Hidalgo County GOP chairperson) that she should be armed at all times or out of town this weekend, because the We Stand America events include a "Trump Train"-style, "caravan to the border." He said the National Butterfly Center would likely be a stop on this "take action tour," and she and the center are targets.
This 3-day, fundraising event organized by Trump operatives is just too similar to the 3-day Wall-o-thon organized by Bannon, Kolfage and Tommy Fisher, in celebration of their first, private border wall project (prior to their Mission project,) that likely incited the Wal-mart Massacre in El Paso.
The Daily Dot has additional details:
The email from the Center makes it clear that the grounds themselves are in direct danger from conference attendees who intend to form a “rolling car protest,” described as a ’Trump Train’-style “caravan to the border” that will likely make a stop at the National Butterfly Center. The Center’s location just minutes away from the Rio Grande has made it a hotbed of conspiracy theories and rumors, which claim it’s a hub of drug smuggling and human trafficking. Many of these rumors are pushed by Brian Kolfage, the leader of an eight-figure fundraising effort to privately build Trump’s border wall.
Kolfage, who has called the Center’s employees “butterfly freaks” running a “sham” sanctuary devoted to profiting off human misery, has pushed the theories hard, including sharing doctored photos of rafts at a dock outside the Butterfly Center. He’s also spammed Wright with violent threats over Twitter, eventually resulting in his account being suspended. Kolfage himself is not speaking at the event, presumably because he’s currently under indictment for wire fraud and tax evasion due to allegedly stealing from the We Build The Wall nonprofit he founded.
The Daily Beast has audio of the confrontation with MAGA candidate Kimberly Lowe. Warning — language and sounds of violence.
“You are here to promote your agenda, and your agenda is not welcome here,” Wright says on the recording.
“You’re not for keeping the illegals out?” Michelle counters.
“So you’re not for helping all these poor people in the humanitarian crisis?” Lowe adds. “You’re OK with children being sex trafficked and raped and murdered.”
When Wright asks the pair to leave, Michelle claims that Border Patrol told them that they could enter the property and that, “I’m federal—I work for Secret Service, so nothing is off-limit for me.”
As Wright laughs at Michelle’s claim, Lowe appears to begin narrating a video. “So we’re here with a woman who’s not a very nice person who’s OK that children—”
The audio cuts out as Wright swats at or takes Lowe’s phone. “You did not take my fucking phone,” Lowe says.
Nicholas “said one of the women claimed to be running for Congress and the other claimed to be with the Secret Service,” Wright wrote in an affidavit, reviewed by The Daily Beast. “I asked him to get their names. He returned to tell me I could look her up at ‘Kimberly Lowe for Congress’ on Facebook. I proceeded to look her up and the first thing in her Facebook feed was a Facebook Live video of the two women, broadcasting themselves with children in the car, driving down Scheurbach Road, south of Military, on what is officially ‘Butterfly Park Dr.’”
The Daily Beast reports this goes back several years, as the Center opposed the construction of The Wall — and found themselves under attack.
...By late 2019, conspiracy theorists were circulating memes falsely accusing the National Butterfly Center of being a front for sex traffickers. Wright and colleagues faced in-person threats from members of militia groups like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, as well as threatening phone calls and emails from a man who was revealed to be a Texas police officer.
[Speaking of which, the Center reports the Biden Administration is still building sections of the Wall. Why?]
Local TV station ValleyCentral has more on the story, including a link to a report about a National Guard truck crashing into a gate on the property, part of the border security theater scam Operation Lone Star.
The way things are going, every day will be January 6 somewhere if these people are not stopped — and the Republican Party is fine with these armed lunatics running loose. This isn’t just domestic terrorism — it’s also a money-making scam for the people who organize these events and charge the faithful to attend while selling them schlock along with the poison koolaid. Jim Jones was an amateur compared with these people. RICO prosecutions should be on the table IMHO.
Here’s hoping the spotlight on this will suppress any violence, and that the Center will be able to return to its mission of allowing people to enjoy the unique assortment of butterflies to be found in the region.
Did you know nearly 150 species of North American butterflies can be seen only in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) of Texas, or by traveling to Mexico?
In fact, more than 300 species of butterflies may be found in the LRGV, and more than 200 species have been seen at the National Butterfly Center, including a number of rarities and U.S. Records!
Incredibly, almost 40% of the 700+ butterflies that can be found in the United States can be seen in this three-county area at the southernmost tip of Texas, where the subtropical climate makes it possible to enjoy the outdoors year 'round.
If you want to show the Center some support, you can find out more at their website.
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