Sunlight gleamed off the tiled roofs of the taupe mini-mansions and walkable shopping centers as March 4 dawned in this corner of North Texas. According to specious speculations online, this was the day when Donald Trump would be reinstalled as president.
“We are optimistic . . . If you’re in morning [sic] Please stay at home!!!” the group’s organizer, Jeff Hauk, told the weekly meeting of a group of conservatives who call themselves the “DFW Deplorables.”
In posts on their private Facebook page, Hauk said he still believed Trump had their backs and that the former president was working behind the scenes to return to power. “It is not over,” Hauk wrote.
Hope for Trump’s return is fervent in Frisco and across the northern Dallas suburbs, an area of rapid growth and rapidly increasing diversity. Nineteen local residents have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to federal authorities, one of the largest numbers in any place in the country.
Many of the rioters came from the “mainstream of society,” according to the FBI’s Dallas field office, including three real estate agents, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, an oilman and an actor who once appeared on the popular television show “Friday Night Lights.” They were driven by a “salad bowl of grievances,” the FBI said, including anger over the presidential election, white-supremacist ideology and the discredited extremist ideology QAnon, which holds that Trump will save the world from a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.
Their groundless claims are being fed by conservative politicians and from the pulpits of large, powerful evangelical churches with teachings that verge on white nationalism, both motivated by fear that they are losing a largely white, conservative enclave that views these changes with suspicion.
More arrests are coming, and North Texas remains a focus for investigators who expect to charge as many as 400 people from across the country in the attack on the Capitol.
Local law enforcement authorities had been grappling for months with the poisonous impact of baseless claims. In September, Frisco authorities were flooded with calls and emails after QAnon conspiracy theorists latched onto a video shared on social media of a crying little girl in the back seat of a car. In reality, the girl, who police say was part of a custody dispute, was safe, but her privacy was violated by the video being shared repeatedly and time spent addressing the false accusation affected the investigation, authorities said.
Police also were forced to address a viral social media post that falsely labeled the town’s sprawling Stonebriar Centre the “No. 1 mall in the U.S. for sex trafficking,” assuring the public that teenagers were not being kidnapped.
On the DFW Deplorables site, members followed and debated the case of the distraught little girl in the video, but they were sure about one thing: Trump was doing “God’s work” to rid the land of “pedos,” rapists and sex traffickers.
“Trump is taking them all down,” Hauk, a swimming pool salesman, said.
At the Community Grill in Frisco, the silver thermoses of coffee were waiting and the Deplorables indulged in other baseless speculations. President Biden is senile, they said. He’s being fed his words through an earpiece by former president Barack Obama.
They didn’t want to talk about the Jan. 6 attack. Many of them believed the attack was carried out by left-wing “antifa” and Black Lives Matter infiltrators, rather than more than a dozen of their neighbors who stormed the Capitol “in the name of Jesus,” bearing zip-tie restraints and, in one case, a crutch to beat police.
Jane Ann Sellars, vice president for “Americanism” for a local Republican women’s group, said coffee was a chance to strategize and work on promoting politicians who share their views.
“We just want more conservative candidates for the future,” Sellars said.