Standing Up To Hate In Lubbock County, Texas

An interview with Stuart Williams, Chairman of the Lubbock County Democratic Party

Stuart Williams, Chairman of the Lubbock County Democrats

Stuart Williams, Chairman of the Lubbock County Democrats

On Monday, April 17, Rantt News published an article that described how the racist social media behavior of Republican officials in Lubbock County (TX) may have led to the vandalism that occurred at the Lubbock County Democratic Headquarters the previous week.

In one of their first social media posts after the article was published, the Lubbock County Republican Party posted a racially caricatured cartoon of former National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

On April 18, the Lubbock County Republican Party shared a racially caricatured image of former National Security Advisor Susan Rice on Facebook.

On April 18, the Lubbock County Republican Party shared a racially caricatured image of former National Security Advisor Susan Rice on Facebook.

The party’s only response to the article was liking a reply to it that read “meanwhile the entire Democratic party is a hate group.”

Stuart Williams is Chairman of the Lubbock County Democratic Party. He was elected in December and is the first African American to lead the party.

Williams told me that racism is widespread in Lubbock County politics and this was not the first time local Democrats have been targeted. Many Lubbock residents who responded to the original article shared the same sentiment.

Texas political commentators and Democratic groups responded with shock and dismay after reading about the party’s social media behavior. So far, no state or local Republican officials have commented on the behavior of the Lubbock County Republican Party and none of their members have faced repercussions.

Williams told me he is not surprised by the muted response and said that Lubbock Democrats will carry on regardless of threats against them.

Read my April 17 interview with Williams below. It is lightly edited for clarity.

MR: What exactly happened to the Lubbock Democratic Party Headquarters on April 10?

Williams: I was at work, so it was our secretary who found the graffiti. She got there at about 10 o’clock in the morning. They had just sprayed it all over the place. At lunch I went over there and looked at it. It was in three different places, there was “Support our President” over the window. I am not up on my neo-Nazi lingo, let me say it that way. I just thought they were cross hairs, or something to do with a gun, but apparently it is something to do with a Celtic cross. Under one of the crosses it had “1488,” which we learned later had to do with Hitler and Nazi supremacists. So we found it on Monday morning. I was there until nine the evening before, so it must have happened sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning. We cleaned it up later in the week and that was about it.

“In 2012 we had someone vandalize the Obama signs around town. They wrote ‘nigger lover’ all over them and hateful words like that.”

On April 10, the Lubbock County Democratic Headquarters was vandalized with Nazi imagery. Photo: Stuart Williams

On April 10, the Lubbock County Democratic Headquarters was vandalized with Nazi imagery. Photo: Stuart Williams

MR: What kind of message do you think was being sent with the vandalism?

Williams: Well, obviously it was a neo-Nazi message. I don’t know if it was meant specifically for me because I am the first Black person to be chair of the Democratic Party in Lubbock, or if it was meant generally. We have never had problems with neo-Nazi’s before. However, we have always had problems with people tearing up our signs. In 2012 we had someone vandalize the Obama signs around town. They wrote “nigger lover” all over them and hateful words like that. Last year in the fall we had that happen to our Hillary signs. Now with the Obama signs they just wrote it on there, and shot some BB’s through it, and left it at the place the sign was. With the Hillary signs they went around town and picked up some signs, tore them up, and wrote nigger lover, spick lover, denounced Islam, and shit like that on it, and then left them on the steps at the headquarters. So, honestly, it doesn't surprise me. We are kind of used to it at this point out here. There is always somebody writing something real awful. They had never attacked the building before though. They had never done that, which was interesting to me.

Of course with Trump they tied it in with “support our President.” Obviously there is a lot of hatred and Trump kind of unleashed that. Lubbock Republicans have always been kind of hateful because out here in west Texas there are not a lot of elected Democrats so they feel free to do and say whatever they want. Trump has released the facade that they were holding up of trying to at least act like they were nice and that they didn't believe these things. I one hundred percent believe the person who did it believed what they said and I believe Donald Trump engendered it along with the Texas Republican Party and the Lubbock County Republican Party. By the way, I have not received any kind of formal apology or any kind of reach out from them. I think that’s par for the course with these people. That person one hundred percent meant it, they certainly meant it towards Trump. To attack the building I think it is meant at Democrats across the board, not just at a particular candidate as it has been in the past.

On February 13, the Lubbock County Republican Party shared this image of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

On February 13, the Lubbock County Republican Party shared this image of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

MR: Do you follow the social media of your counterparts at the Lubbock County Republican Party?

Williams: I follow their Twitter, I occasionally get on their Facebook. They haven't posted anything lately, I think since like April 7. I occasionally look on there, but I don't look at it day by day.

“Our County Judge Tom Head has posted pictures of Black men in a lineup wearing Obama shirts and below it says ‘Did you see anyone get arrested with George Bush shirts on?’ He ran off a copy of it and posted it publicly on the board in the courthouse.”

MR: You mentioned some of the signs had racial slurs and slurs against Muslims. I looked at their social media. They have 22 tweets calling Barack Obama “Barack Hussein Obama,” they have tweets calling Hillary Clinton a prostitute, and multiple tweets saying there is no such thing as a peaceful Muslim. Do you think the rhetoric of your counterparts at the Lubbock County Republican Party contributed to the mind state of the people who carried out the vandalism?

Williams: Absolutely, and I am sure that they would say they didn’t mean it, or that it was a joke, or whatever, but people say what they mean. So, absolutely! That’s exactly what they want. They want to engender hate, divisiveness, and racism of people. The candidates do it too. Our County Judge Tom Head (Editors’ Note: More on Judge Head here) has posted pictures of Black men in a lineup wearing Obama shirts and below it says “Did you see anyone get arrested with George Bush shirts on?” He ran off a copy of it and posted it publicly on the board in the courthouse. Absolutely, these people absolutely have contributed to that kind of environment. What’s more is I think they actually believe it, which is really sad that they fear other people and other ideas that much. Absolutely they contribute to it.

On March 26, Mika Wyatt shared a photo that joked about killing Muslims. Wyatt is the social media administrator for the Lubbock County Republican Party.

On March 26, Mika Wyatt shared a photo that joked about killing Muslims. Wyatt is the social media administrator for the Lubbock County Republican Party.

MR: Five days ago on the Lubbock County Republican Party Facebook page they shared an article saying “The New Civil War is Here” and they left a comment saying “we might have to destroy the left.” That is from their official page. What do you make of that? Is that normal behavior from them?

Williams: Yes, it is normal. It is what they do. They don't much care to hide things like that. That is their M-O. They post stuff like that all the time. I don't honestly get on there a lot because you can’t pay attention to things like that and keep your sanity and be what I need to be, which is a good county chair for the Democratic party and try to unite people together. They post things like that all the time. We have a local radio station, KFYO, where they regularly say things pretty much on that same level. In the last Congressional primary in 2016 that was the kind of language that was used between the candidates who were running, including the former mayor. This is par for the course out here and I think it is ultimately destructive. I think when the Republican Party talks abut how morals have went down, and how the country is going to hell in a hand basket, I think they are largely to blame because they post such things.

MR: Your counterpart Steve Evans was quoted in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal after the attack and he said that he hoped the people who vandalized your headquarters were brought to justice swiftly. Do you think that is sincere?

Williams: I don’t know. I really don’t know is the way I would answer that question.

“I was born in Lubbock and lived here all my life and I can tell you I am sick and tired of people like that.”

MR: What is your message to the people responsible for the vandalism?

Williams: My message would be we are going to keep doing what we are doing. In 2016 when they pulled up our Hillary signs my message was very simple: We have more. We cleaned it up and we got it looking better than it did before, and we are going to keep on going because we are not scared of these people. I know that I am not. There is a groundswell of support happening all across this nation to push back against that, but more importantly I was born in Lubbock and lived here all my life and I can tell you I am sick and tired of people like that. There are a lot of forgotten people and a lot of people who have not been represented. Obviously, as you can tell by people like those at the Lubbock County Republican Party posting all those things. They don't represent the average person and they are not working on behalf of the average person. What I would say to that person is that you did not do a thing. We are going to keep moving forward. We are not bowed, we are not cowed, we are stronger than ever. We are fielding candidates and we are going to continue doing what is right because ultimately we are on the right side of history. Ultimately, hate is not going to win. If I have anything to do with it, and if the Lubbock County Democratic Party has anything to do with it, hate is not going to win. We are just going to keep doing what we are doing.

News // Politics / Racism / Republican Party / Texas