On July 1, 2020, in Gainesville, Texas, a local civil rights group, PRO Gainesville held a protest on the courthouse lawn for the removal of a Confederate statue. July 1 also was the first day PRO Gainesville invited Jessica Luther Rummel, an anti-racist activist from the town just south of Gainesville. It also happened to be the day that over 100 white militia members showed up armed and ready for a fight. That day was the day these armed militia people met their match.
Jessica, while live streaming on Facebook, walked up to these racists who showed up with rifles and Confederate flags to aggressively confront a mostly Black group of individuals, and she called them out. She asked them why they showed up armed, of course, they said it was their second amendment right.
Jessica let them know, “Do you know who else used to show up armed in large groups to intimidate Black people? The Ku Klux Klan.” The white people who stood armed against Black Gainesville residents shouted racial epithets at them, they spit, they pointed their guns at them, and they threatened to kill them.
Not only did Jessica call them out on their racism, but others did also as well, including local media. However, Jessica just happened to be the loudest. In turn, this small North Texas town with racism deeply ingrained in its very soul, heard the cries of “RACIST,” coming from Jessica.
Her live stream, which was on Facebook, racked up thousands of views. Mostly from local Gainesville residents.
They were completely oblivious.
While initially, they were angry at their Black neighbors for wanting to move the racist symbology on the courthouse lawn, their anger moved to Jessica. She continued to show up, week after week, every Sunday on those courthouse steps, and week after week these angry white people came out. They waved Confederate flags, shouted obscenities, and chanted “white lives matter.”
The narrative in the town changed. The narrative became that Gainesville was once a peaceful and quiet town until Jessica came along. The narrative became that Jessica walks around town calling everyone she encounters a racist, warranted, or not. The narrative became that Jessica brought racism into the town.
All of those well to do white folk grew a hatred and obsession over her that even all of their local Facebook groups became consumed of talking about her, all day, every day. None of them were racist, they all had Black cousins and Black nephews, they were proud Americans, which they proved with their love of the Confederate flag.
The threats came in droves.
Most of the white militia didn’t live in Gainesville, but that didn’t stop them from threatening her. She also received dozens of threats from Gainesville residents. They threatened her life, they threatened her children, they doxxed her, and they called her place of employment.
These racists of Gainesville, who claim to be not racist, told her they would blow up her house because she called them out on their racist behavior.
Local police sided with white supremacists.
The Gainesville police and Cooke County Sheriffs’ well-known individuals in this small knit community have tried everything they can to get rid of Jessica and to get rid of protesters. The police coordinated with the counter-protesters to ensure there was a show of force against Black Gainesville residents. For weeks, GPD specifically communicated with the white racists in town about the protesters’ every move.
With all of the threats and assaults which have happened against PRO Gainesville and against Jessica, the district attorney refuses to prosecute and the police refuse to even take reports.
While these protests are going on, police were told not to talk to Jessica. They would turn their backs to her and refuse to give badge numbers.
They blocked off the courthouse lawn, so protesters couldn’t protest there, even though it is a public space. They arrested protesters for jaywalking. And they stalked local PRO Gainesville leaders at their home.
How can one woman do so much?
If you ask local white Gainesville residents they will tell you that Jessica brought hate and division to their town. In a town of 30,000 people, how can one woman have that much power?
The only thing she has done is call racists out on their racism. Think about that.
This town is struggling with coming to terms with their white fragility and they’ve made Jessica their target because, in their mind, she is taking away their white privilege. And that is something that really hurts them.