FTP-OK Patrols Work to Defend National Butterfly Center Against Fascist Threats of Violence in Fight Against Trump's Border Wall

By Mateo El Rojo

January 24, 2020

MISSION: Throughout the month of December 2019, members of FTP-Oklahoma undertook a community defense action, deploying down to the southern border of the United States. The Oklahoma People’s Defense Force was asked by the National Butterfly Center of Mission, TX to help them in their fight against the private construction of a border wall on and near their land.

The National Butterfly Center is a privately owned center in Texas that sits along the Rio Grande river. Beginning with the election of Donald Trump, the Center, along with several activist groups and members of the scientific community, have objected to a wall being constructed, which would block several species of animals from migration routes which they depend on. Eventually, as a wall was challenged in court, a private fund was set up called “We Build the Wall, Inc.”  by Brian Kolfage, to privately build a border wall anyway.

Marianna Trevino Wright, the director of the National Butterfly Center, has become somewhat of a target of the far-right. Her activism and legal challenges to the border wall have earned the ire of nationalists rallying around the WBTW project, and in December, with a new legal challenge filed in federal court, as well as in Texas state court, asserting that building a wall up to the NBC property will negatively impact the NBC property itself (which is illegal in Texas), the far-right increased its agitation, escalating into open threats to the lives and safety of anyone on the grounds of the National Butterfly Center. Brian Kolfage himself had tweeted that his people had snipers hiding in their bushes, and a follower of his tweeted exactly what type of rifle he had that he would use. Finally, two members of the radical Nazi group “Attomwaffen” were arrested traveling in the direction of Mission. The National Butterfly Center is a popular local destination for bird watching and school field trips, so the threat of violence was taken very seriously.

A Border Patrol Blackhawk helicopter flies over a patrol.

Ms. Wright contacted the Oklahoma People’s Party (the home of the Oklahoma cadre of the Maoist Communist Party – Organizing Committee), asking for assistance. In response, a schedule was set up, rotating armed volunteers down to Mission TX, to patrol the land, assist in security for activism going on in December, and generally protect the well being of the staff and visitors at the Butterfly Center. An active shooter course was given the first day to the staff, and security patrols began.

Comrades spent their days conducting armed patrols and interacting with guests of the Butterfly Center. The southern border is a strange place: Within a 100 mile buffer zone, civil liberties have long been suspended. Border Patrol can, and does, stop people with no probable cause, and often times maliciously harasses those deemed adversarial. During the initial tour of the local area, it was discovered that Border Patrol had tied the gate of a local Catholic church shut, because the church was viewed as sympathetic to the cause of migrants and the poor.

“Flyovers by Blackhawk helicopters continued, and a dedicated aerial camera was deployed on a stationary balloon over the land being patrolled.”

Border Patrol is a constant presence in this area of the border because of the perceived hostility of the Butterfly Center to the fascists. As soon as comrades would lose sight of one BP vehicle, another would appear. After comrades were stopped and searched early on, Border Patrol surveillance increased substantially. Flyovers by Blackhawk helicopters continued, and a dedicated aerial camera was deployed on a stationary balloon over the land being patrolled.

A comrade takes time on break to study.

As the month wore on, the threats continued, peaking around times of legal challenges and court dates. The Oklahoma comrades continued their patrols and continued to keep the staff and visitors of the Butterfly Center safe. In January, although the threats have slowed down, they are still present, and support and interaction is needed with comrades and decent people everywhere.