Today protests greeted Donald Trump, as members of the El Paso community mobilized to oppose the President’s visit to their town following a mass shooting by a white nationalist gunman who targeted Latinx people at a local Wal-Mart. In the killer’s manifesto, he echoed the sentiments of another white nationalist mass shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, who also praised Trump and ranted that whites were victims of “The Great Replacement.” The El Paso killer concluded that he needed to engage in an act of mass murder to fight against the “invasion” of Latinx people in Texas, who ironically have existed there long before white settlers.
The connection between the horrific white nationalist mass murder spree today in #ElPaso + Fox News giving air time to far-Right grifter Andy Ngo who spewed nonsense about "antifa violence" coming to #ElPaso, aka an #AbolishICE protest camp, needs to be put front an center. pic.twitter.com/0NLzZJtjOs
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) August 3, 2019
Hours after Trump left, a situation unfolded outside of the Casa Carmelita community space right next to the border town of Juarez in El Paso, when a heavily armed white Trump supporter was seen waving a gun around and was then apprehended by police. An image plastered on the man’s truck tailgate was that of a popular Trump meme, which features the President dressed as the action movie character “Rambo” and is depicted holding a high powered assault rife. The owner of the truck, Thomas Bartram, was profiled in The Washington Examiner, who wrote:
Thomas Bartram, 21, said he had driven his truck, complete with banner of the president dressed as Rambo, from Houston to make a point.
“It seemed like the right thing to do, to come out and support Trump. He’s getting a lot of criticism,” he said.
He added that he was “an open-carry kind of guy” at political rallies but had opted not to bring his gun because of the nature of the tragedy.
“It’s a funeral so it didn’t seem like the right thing to do,” he said.
In the article, Bartram can be seen giving the Alt-Right “OK” hand sign, the same sign given by the Christchurch mass killer while in court.
Thomas Bartram gives the Alt-Right “OK” hand sign in the Washington Exaiminer
The Bartram’s truck also had a “Ted Cruz” sign as well as numerous bumper stickers supporting the far-Right, pro-Trump, and conspiracy theory website InfoWars. In recent years the website has entered into the mainstream and become infamous due to its connection to the Trump campaign, their role in spreading literal fake news stories often emanating from places like 4chan and their promotion of the lie that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged in order to bring about a clamp down against gun rights. Another bumper sticker featured a bust of George Washington with the slogan, “Me and my homies would have been stackin’ bodies by now.”
According to a statement on Facebook from Casa Carmelita:
A white supremacist Trump supporter was just arrested outside Casa Carmelita. He was sitting in his truck wearing blue latex gloves, and brandishing a knife. Police recovered a loaded gun, ammo, and a bag of white powder from his person. This happens just as Trump departs El Paso and follows a pattern of local organizers being targeted and increased violence and hate crimes. Only 2 days ago, we hosted a vigil to honor those lost in detention and Border Patrol custody and those who were killed in Saturday’s terrorist attack; family members of those who lost their lives at Walmart were present at the vigil. Everyone is safe, no organizers were hurt.
Casa Carmelita was one of the community support organizations engaged in outreach and humanitarian aid along the US/Mexico border that was recently targeted by a wave of pro-Trump and far-Right media attacks spearheaded by online grifters like Andy Ngo. The far-Right troll on Twitter spread the conspiracy theory that an upcoming “Border Resistance” protest camp, designed to bring attention to abuses in migrant detention facilities, for which El Paso has been in the center spotlight, was in fact a front for ‘antifa terror camps.’ This was picked up by Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller as well as Fox News, although debunked by the National Observer and other outlets.
After the deadly #ElPasoShooting, the far-right propaganda machine weaponized a days-old hoax to blame Saturday's bloodshed on the very people standing up for those targeted by the shooter. You know them as antifa.
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) August 4, 2019
According to people on the ground outside of the community center that talked to It’s Going Down over the phone who wished to remain anonymous for fear of harassment from the far-Right, people on the street first saw Bartram in the street “waving a gun around,” and proceeded to call the police. People then watched as Bartram pulled a lock box out of his truck, unlocked the box, and then pulled out a bag. Bartram was heard commenting outside of his vehicle about the “border” and things “not changing” and was then seen toying with a knife while sitting in his car.
After police arrived on the scene, they stopped and detained Bartram, holding him for a short amount of time down the street from the community center before proceeding to let him go.