The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, closed indefinitely on Wednesday after years of untamed QAnon conspiracy theories and mounting menace of violence, together with a bodily altercation final week with a Republican congressional candidate from Virginia demanding “to see all the illegals crossing on the raft,” The Texas Tribune reports.
On any given day, tons of of species of butterflies journey via the 20-year-old nonprofit sanctuary, the Houston Chronicle reports. “Birders from across the country visit the refuge to observe and photograph birds unique to the Rio Grande Valley, and thousands of local schoolchildren take field trips to the center each year.”
In 2017, the National Butterfly Center sued the Trump administration to block construction of a border wall via its property. Two years later, “We Build the Wall” chief Brian Kolfage posted doctored images of the butterfly sanctuary’s dock, claiming it was getting used to transport migrants and human trafficking. (Kolfage was later indicted for allegedly misusing funds for the nearby crowdfunded border wall.)
Right-wing conspiracists have been falsely claiming the National Butterfly Center is concerned in intercourse trafficking and different crimes since 2019, and government director Marianna Treviño-Wright has been getting threats. Former Texas state Rep. Aaron Peña (R) instructed her earlier than final weekend’s “We Stand America” border safety rally in neighboring McAllen that she could possibly be a goal and may “be armed at all times or out of town,” the Tribune reports.
The Virginia congressional candidate, Kimberly Lowe, arrived on the middle on Jan. 21 and demanded river entry, accusing Treviño-Wright of allowing “children being sex trafficked and raped and murdered,” the Chronicle reports. After Treviño-Wright instructed Lowe to go away, Lowe tackled her, Treviño-Wright says.
Lowe disputes Treviño-Wright’s account of occasions, however after information of the altercation unfold, “We Stand America” banned her from the McAllen occasion. Lowe mentioned she spent $2,500 for a “diamond VIP” ticket that may have included a personal border tour with featured visitors Michael Flynn, a QAnon favorite, and former acting ICE chief Thomas Homan. “I can’t believe that the people who are supposed to be on my side of the aisle canceled me,” Lowe told the Chronicle.
Jeffrey Glassberg, founding father of the butterfly sanctuary’s mother or father group, the North American Butterfly Association, told the Tribune “it’s incredibly distressing that the United States has come to the point where a really significant part of the public is just no longer tethered to reality.”