A group reportedly responsible for organizing a counter-rally in front of a Houston Islamic center over the summer claims their event came in response to announcements from actual white supremacist groups – not to planted Russian Facebook pages, like many reports claim.
According to Ramon Mejía, who organized one of the counter-protests, a group of Neo-Nazis planned to protest in front of the Islamic Da’wah Center in downtown Houston, prompting Mejía and other groups to organize counter-rallies in attempts to drown out the racist groups.
“We were organizing against actual neo-Nazis that reside in our community, people we actually know,” Mejía said in an interview with the Texas Tribune.
The report of the protests and counter-protests comes in the light of revelations regarding two Facebook pages believed to be created by Russian interests and attempting to incite dueling rallies outside the center in Houston.
Federal investigators revealed the “Heart of Texas” Facebook page, which promoted secession, racist rhetoric, and anti-Islamic sentiments before being shuttered by Facebook admins, reportedly received sponsorship by a group with Russian interests.
The investigation also showed another page titled “United Muslims of America” attempted to organize a “Save Islamic Knowledge” counter-rally against the Heart of Texas group, with the two organizing rallies at the Islamic center at the same date and time, allegedly in an effort to stir up conflicts and violent retaliation.
“It wasn’t Heart of Texas that we were organizing against,” Mejía said. “The Russians are just capitalizing on what is already existing in our society.”
Mejía claimed he organized the counter-protest when he saw Ken Reed, a “White Lives Matter” movement activist, would attend the anti-Islamic protest.
Reed is reportedly the executive director of the Houston-based neo-Nazi group known as the Aryan Renaissance Society.
Reed would not identify himself as a member of the Russian-backed Heart of Texas group; however, he did speak out on attending the anti-Islamic protest:
“We feel that Texas, our great state, and the United States is being threatened by the influx of Islam,” Reed said in an interview with a local TV station.
Stay skeptical, Houston.