Members of the New Braunfels Trump Train group and local law enforcement are expected to be in downtown New Braunfels Thursday evening with two different rallies planned blocks from each other.
Trey Gowdy, former South Carolina congressman, is the featured speaker at a Republican party fundraiser at New Braunfels Civic/Convention Center. The event, featuring Comal County elected officials, will include an award presented to local Trump Train organizers — with the rest of that organization staging a rally in Main Plaza.
“That’s one of the reasons why they are not having a Trump Train because we will be honoring (the organizers) at our event tonight,” said Sue Piner, Comal GOP chair, adding other speakers include District 25 state Sen. Donna Campbell, District 15 U.S. Rep. Chip Roy and District 73 state Rep. Kyle Biedermann.
Comal County Sheriff Mark Reynolds and New Braunfels Police Chief Tom Wibert said officers have been assigned to both locations.
“We have one event at the Civic Center and our understanding is the Trump Train is having a drive-through thing going on through Main Plaza,” Reynolds said. “It’s more or less being prepared — we hope nothing will be happening, but with everything that’s been going on — and one individual getting attention because of it — we just don’t want anything to happen.”
Social media scrutiny
Videos and photos showing a Black Lives Matter flag being dragged underneath a pickup truck at the Sept. 3 Trump Train rally through New Braunfels, and a Facebook post encouraging participants to look out for four black men allegedly out for revenge, aired on San Antonio TV stations in recent days.
Seeing his face among those in the post, Andrae Blissett said he saw it as a death threat. “It is a threat. In my view this is the same as putting a bounty out on somebody,” said the city resident and Air Force veteran.
Blissett said his “head is on a swivel” after reading a post above the photos that read “Everyone needs to keep their eyes open at the next Trump Train. Trust me, it might be best to be strapped ... we can’t let guys like this stop any of us.”
Blissett’s attorney, who declined to be identified Thursday, said Blissett has no idea why he was included in the post and added she filed a report with the New Braunfels Police Department.
On Thursday Wibert said NBPD’s entire command staff would be watching both areas “with the goal of making sure things stay safe.” He confirmed an investigation is underway into the Facebook post. “We did take a criminal complaint from one of the gentlemen who was (among) subjects in the post and we are actively working an investigation,” he said.
Wibert referred to City Manager Robert Camareno’s recent statement, which in part read: “The city of New Braunfels and the New Braunfels Police Department unequivocally condemn any acts of racism or hatred, and want all residents to feel safe in our community.
“These matters are taken very seriously and if any of our citizens feel threatened, we ask that they contact the New Braunfels Police Department to file a police report, either online at www.nbtexas.org/police or by calling 830-221-4100.”
Mayor speaks out
Both incidents prompted reaction from the city’s mayor on Wednesday. “In recent days, New Braunfels has experienced divisiveness. Some members of our community have felt attacked, demoralized, misunderstood and concerned,” Mayor Rusty Brockman said in a statement.
“This is not the New Braunfels that I know and love. Our community is known for its caring and supportive personality. “Some members of our community have felt attacked, demoralized, misunderstood and concerned ...This is not the New Braunfels that I know and love. Our community is known for its caring and supportive personality.”
County GOP chair backs Trump Train
Piner said she didn’t know much about the flag-trampling incident until recently.
“The mayor’s statement was a little confusing,” she said. “I’m a Trump Trainer and I think it’s great because of its visibility in the community and shows our spirit for Trump. “I didn’t realize the BLM flag (under the truck) because you couldn’t even read it,” she said.
“I thought it was a Trump flag that had fallen off — the truck had about 10 flags on it; it was unfortunate a BLM flag (was involved). “I’ve only missed one of the Trump Trains, which I found very patriotic and encouraging,” she said. “There are a few naysayers that have popped up .. but the founder in his announcement last week encouraged people not to honk when going (past certain city areas).”
Piner said future Trump Trains will move its staging location from Buc-ee's to Rockin R River Rides in Gruene, which couldn’t be confirmed Thursday.
“The plan is to move there, where they will be able to view each truck to make (sure they carry) nothing inappropriate,” she said.
Efforts to reach Trump Train organizers through Piner were unsuccessful Thursday afternoon, as finishing touches were applied ahead of Thursday night’s fundraiser.
“Trey Gowdy will be the star of the show and we’re eager to hear what he has to say,” Piner said. “As a Fox (News Channel) commentator he’s very much in touch with current political happenings. We’ve sold out — even though the virus cut seating from 900 to 490 seats. But we’re ready for a great event.”