The peaceful demonstration concluded at the Citizen’s Tower where the names of victims who have lost their lives from police brutality were read and recognized with moments of silence.
Like many other cities, Lubbock has seen a number of protests in the past week in light of George Floyd’s death.
Although reports indicate that most demonstrations in the West Texas town have remained peaceful, especially compared to the riots and looting in many major cities across the country, police did arrest a man who was charged with making interstate threats.
Emmanuel Quinones, a 25-year-old local, showed up in support of a protest on Saturday evening carrying a loaded Smith & Wesson .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle, according to a press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
In cell phone footage posted to social media by other protesters, Quinones can be seen carrying the firearm with the muzzle pointed toward the ground and his hand on or near the trigger.
As the crowd yelled in panic at a police officer about the sight of the armed man, Quinones set his gun down on the ground.
According to the DOJ, Quinones initially refused the officer’s demand to set his weapon down and only obeyed after the officer drew his weapon.
Immediately after setting down the gun, another individual — Ezequiel Cantu Valderas — charged toward Quinones and attempted to tackle him.
Chaos then erupted as the nearby police officer apparently tried to pull Valderas off of Quinones, and the crowd rushed into the middle of the scene.
This just happened in Lubbock at our protest rally! Someone showed up with an automatic weapon. @LubbockPolice came in a helped take him down. #Lubbock #Texas #blm #BlackLivesMatter #rally #maga pic.twitter.com/cy7sfBA4Ty
— Mark Wilson (@themawilson) May 31, 2020
Eventually, both Valderas and Quinones were arrested.
According to a local report, Valderas was charged for assault and Quinones was charged with disorderly conduct with a firearm.
Records from the county sheriff’s office indicate that Valderas is homeless.
The press release from the DOJ says that as Quinones was being taken into custody by police, he allegedly shouted “this is a revolution” and “President Trump must die.”
“During an interview, Mr. Quinones admitted that he previously made social media posts designed to ‘intimidate’ the President and ‘MAGA instigators,’” said the DOJ.
“[Quinones] attended the protest to protect demonstrators from these so-called MAGA (Make America Great Again) instigators, who he planned to shoot on sight,” said the DOJ. “He claimed the police would not have been able to identify these counter-protestors, but that he could have.”
Just a few days earlier, he had shared a photo of a lower receiver for an AR-15 with his own comment stating, “Gonna get some more of these to off racists and MAGA people.”
It is unclear if Quinones realized that the original post from the firearm parts manufacturer and design of the lower receiver was intended to ridicule former Vice President Joe Biden’s use of the term “AR-14” and other comments the presidential candidate has made.
In the days leading up to the incident, Quinones posted other hateful remarks on social media targeting the president, including one post suggesting happiness at the idea of the White House being burned down and another profanity-laced post calling for Trump to be removed from the White House.
Just a week before his arrest at the protest, Quinones had also posted on social media criticizing Christian pastors who have called for people to return to church after the months-long lockdown.
Notably, just a day before his posts targeting Trump and his supporters, Quinones posted that “the answer is never violence or looting.”
“But people are getting desperate,” he continued, “and are really angry once that happens it’s a tit for tat. I’ve seen it happen in France, Chile, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, India, Hong-Kong. Only difference here is that it takes on a racial context. The rioting and clashes with police aren’t going to stop until people calm down and police reform their tactics and precincts.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Haag is prosecuting the criminal complaint against Quinones for making interstate threats.
“Instead of respecting citizens’ rights to respectfully voice their feelings, this defendant incited panic, putting everyone present – including those he claimed to support – in danger,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox. “We will not tolerate attempts to instill terror or encourage violence at otherwise peaceful protests.”
As with all criminal complaints, the DOJ notes that Quinones “is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.”
While the courts will ultimately determine if anything Quinones said or did was in violation of the law, the case paints a clear picture of fierce tribalism reaching a boiling point in American society, even in the reaches of West Texas.
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Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.