Powerful Texas Republican Asked Gov. Greg Abbott To Authorize National Guard To ‘Shoot To Kill’ Rioters

Riot police stand in a line.
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A powerful Texas Republican called Gov. Greg Abbott last month with a request for the National Guard being dispatched during statewide protests: “shoot to kill” anyone rioting.

As the Texas Tribune reported, “conservative power broker” Steve Hotze called Abbott’s office and left the request in a voicemail to his chief of staff, Luis Saenz. In the message, obtained by the newspaper through a public information request, Hotze asked the governor to authorize the National Guard to open fire if there was rioting.

“I want you to give a message to the governor,” Hotze told Saenz in a voicemail.

“I want to make sure that he has National Guard down here and they have the order to shoot to kill if any of these son-of-a-b*tch people start rioting like they have in Dallas, start tearing down businesses — shoot to kill the son of a b*tches. That’s the only way you restore order. Kill ’em. Thank you.”

The report noted that the voicemail was sent several days after Abbott had called on the National Guard to intervene if the growing protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing became violent. There had already been a number of violent disturbances in Texas cities, including clashes between police and protesters in Dallas and a viral video in which a man wielding a large sword was beaten by a group of protesters. There were no reports of the National Guard opening fire during the protests.

Hotze has staked a place as an opponent to Abbott, mounting legal challenges to the Texas governor’s emergency orders during the coronavirus crisis. He recently filed a lawsuit against Abbott’s statewide mask order, which has been put in place as the state has a surge in coronavirus cases.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at an event.
  Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

As the report noted, Hotze has been known as “one of most prolific culture warriors on the right” in Texas, opposing same-sex marriage and helping to defeat a non-discrimination ordinance in Houston.

His voicemail request for the National Guard to shoot violent protesters comes amid wider criticism of what some have called the excessively forceful police response to the protests against George Floyd’s killing and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. President Donald Trump also faced criticism for what appeared to be a threat to authorize members of the U.S. military to shoot looters and for the use of force by police to clear protesters outside the White House before Trump posed for a photo op at a nearby church.