A terrifying viral video out of Texas this week showed a man brandishing a chainsaw and shouting racist slurs while trying to disperse a crowd of protesters. The man revved the chainsaw menacingly as he walked right through a small crowd, coming dangerously close to some of them. Witnesses are now circulating a petition asking local officials to press charges against the man.
The video was filmed in McCallen, Texas — a town in the southern part of the state. It begins with a man on the sidewalk screaming at a small throng of just eight visible protesters, who identify themselves as "peaceful." Unswayed, the man yells the N-word at them multiple times, commanding them to leave. When they do not listen, he retrieves a chainsaw from his truck and walks towards them. He continues yelling epithets, adding: "don't let those f—ing trash AntiFa people fool you!"
Downtown McAllen pic.twitter.com/kT2AwxTuKr— Edson Grim 🏠🔌 (@TheHousePlug_) June 5, 2020
Police later told reporters from The Monitor that they had identified the man in the video, and a short while later said that they had "detained" him as well. His identity was not revealed, and it is no clear if he has been arrested or charged at this time. Many people want to see that he faces criminal charges, as evidence by an online petition with over 38,000 signatures at the time of this writing.
The petition calls on the city of McAllen to charge the man with a specific class B misdemeanor under Texas state law. It also encourages viewers to contact the man's employers and warn them about his dangerous behavior. Again, he is not identified in the petition.
Right before hand pic.twitter.com/NpIOLspV55— Edson Grim 🏠🔌 (@TheHousePlug_) June 5, 2020
While the threat of a chainsaw is unique and bizarre, many commenters are encouraging each other to take the threat seriously instead of laughing it off. One woman who was on the scene, Lorena Houghton, described the experience to The Monitor.
"We were just walking, because we were walking over here by ourselves, it was a group of like six or seven, and we were just trying to cross the street and someone stopped in the middle of the crosswalk and started yelling at the girl in front," she said. "It's very scary. I think that the exact point they were trying to make is that they didn't think that Black Lives Matter was necessary here, but I think he disproved his own point by violently attacking people that were walking on the street."
Protests around the U.S. continue, with activists calling for massive reforms or altogether abolition of city police departments. The formerly radical idea is being given more serious consideration than ever, with grassroots proposals for more thoughtful forms of community security and crisis response being circulated on social media. On Sunday afternoon, the Minneapolis City Council announced its plan to disband the current police department.