Several police departments and the FBI raided a meeting held by secessionist group The Republic of Texas on February 14th. Gathered at a VFW post in Bryan, TX., 60 members of the group were fingerprinted, photographed, and stripped of their cell phones.
According to officials, the raid was brought on by a couple of “simulated court documents” forged by the Republic of Texas. The documents were fake summonses requiring a judge and a banker to appear before the group. Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer obtained a search warrant authorizing law enforcement officials to seize any and all computers, cell phones, and software found in the raid.
“You can’t just let people go around filing false documents to judges trying to make them appear in front of courts that aren’t even real courts,” said the sheriff. He told the Houston Chronicle that the show of force – more than 20 officers were used in the raid – was necessary due to concerns of a violent reaction. According to Hierholzer, the group was involved with a weeklong standoff with state troopers in 1997.
According to the Republic of Texas, however, they are not the group involved in that incident. Furthermore, they argue that the show of force was wholly uncalled for. They say they were debating issues such as currency and international relations at the meeting, and that a misdemeanor case of forged court documents did not require an armed raid.
The group’s website says, “The truth is that the Republic of Texas is a self-determined people attempting to throw off the yoke of military occupation of Texas through peaceful and lawful process.”
They claim that more was stolen from them than was permitted by the warrant, including gold, silver, and several thousand dollars in cash. “As if dangerous criminals,” read a press release, “many of the Texian people…were one-by-one physically searched on their person and in their vehicles, finger printed, detained and then had their personal belongings and property searched and seized.”
Dangerous or Misunderstood?
To most Americans, the word “secession” draws up images of a Civil War battlefield. However, the Republic of Texas is only one of many groups who believe their respective states would be better off declaring independence. In a 2014 interview, Jeffrey Hare of one such group – the 51st State Initiative in Colorado – said the concept comes down to freedom from big government: “I think ultimately what people want, whether you look at it from a right or left paradigm, is government to stay out of their business.”
These groups may espouse views that seem radical to mainstream America, but incidents like the raid of Feb. 14 only prove how reasonable their efforts are. The dream of independence may be well into the future for secessionists, but it’s discouraging to see them regarded as a dangerous fringe element. Some of their ideas may sound silly, their members charismatic to the point of inspiring nervous laughter, but their core beliefs are in line with the founding of this country. At a time when the federal government is bigger, nosier, and more powerful than ever, the original spirit of America lives on in these movements.