Vidorians run out white supremacists
Last updated 8/8/2023 at 7:12pm
In a scene that would have been unimaginable 30 years ago, white supremacists visiting to share their views in Vidor had to ask for a police escort out of town when local residents protested.
Vidor Police Chief Rod Carroll the incident was at noon Saturday, August 5, on North Main Street near Tram Road. Police dispatchers began receiving numerous calls that several armed and masked men were in the street.
Police went to the commercial area and found men with Aryan Freedom Network signs and pamphlets. Witnesses also reported seeing the group with a confederate flag with its insignia.
Other residents made their own protest signs and marched by the out-of-town supremacists.
Chief Carroll said when patrol officers arrived, they saw the aryan members trying to hand out their materials in the street. Vidor city ordinances prohibit no soliciting or peddling. The officers cited five men for breaking the ordinance and checked to see if any were felons and not allowed to carry weapons.
The chief said all the men were legally allowed to carry their weapons in the public. All are from Texas and were identified as Caleb Bentley of Houston, Mawell Barragy of Lavernia, Tyler Everett of Richmond, Mark Hayes of Humble, and Justin McConnell of Houston.
Chief Carroll said the men asked the officers to escort them out of town because of the crowd of citizens gathering nearby and an "aggressive atmosphere." The group was then led out of the city limits.
The incident shows a Vidor that has changed from its reputation as a home to the Ku Klux Klan and other White supremacist groups. As late as the early 1990s, President Bill Clinton sent the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, along with an official of the U.S. Department of Justice to announce a plan to safely integrate the federally-subsidized public housing in Vidor.
That move came after the first Black resident of the housing complex asked someone to move him to Beaumont because he feared for his safety. Ironically, he was shot to death in a Beaumont street that night.
The integration of the Vidor housing complex led to KKK rallies at the Orange County Courthouse and in Vidor. Also, a group of neo-Nazis held a parade through Vidor. Most of the marchers did not live in Orange County.
But even at the time of the national media attention on Vidor, Mayor Ruth Woods and other civic leaders were pledging that the majority of residents in Vidor were peaceful and welcoming people.