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When a friend sent her an article about an upcoming political convention in Dallas, the QAnon-linked “For God & Country Patriot Roundup,” Colleen Morgan thought the name sounded like a misnomer.
“Patriots are people who love the country, but these people are putting [Former President Donald Trump] above the country, a person above the Constitution,” she said. “They’re not true patriots to me.”
That’s why Morgan and other Dallas residents are calling for the convention’s cancellation. She hopes a petition she started will help persuade hotels hosting the convention to drop it altogether.
The For God & Country Patriot Roundup, scheduled May 28-31, will be hosted by Gilley’s Dallas and Omni Dallas Hotel. The event will include such speakers as retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser to Trump, as well as Sidney Powell, formerly a lawyer for both Flynn and Trump.
Both Flynn and Powell have promoted the baseless claim that the presidential election was stolen from Trump, and both have spread other QAnon-linked conspiracy theories.
The FBI has called QAnon a domestic terrorist threat, according to USA Today. It revolves around the idea that the so-called “deep state” is controlled by pedophiles among Hollywood elites and powerful Democratic politicians, all of whom are supposedly acting against Trump.
Some of the proceeds from the event will go to the political nonprofit Defending the Republic, which Powell founded while contesting the presidential election results. The nonprofit didn’t respond to the Observer‘s request for comment.
Morgan describes herself as a progressive, left-leaning independent. The more she thought about the convention, the more she wondered: “Why is the city of Dallas and the Omni Hotel, which is owned by the city, allowing this big lie to continue?”
She figured all of the conspiracy theories that thrived during the Trump administration would fade away after he lost the election. “So, to see that there’s going to be a QAnon convention in Dallas is kind of horrifying to me,” she said.
The event is organized by a group called The Patriot Voice, which doesn’t seem to have much of an identity outside of this convention. The logo for the event contains an acronym that stands for “Where we go one, we go all,” a QAnon mantra. Other QAnon conspiracy theory promoters are scheduled to speak at the event.
Morgan said Dallas police are already overtasked, there’s a chance for counter-protests and, although vaccines are being rolled out, there’s still a pandemic going on. For these reasons, Morgan said, “It’s just not a good idea.”
The Dallas Police Department did not respond to a request for comment about plans to monitor and patrol the event.
Morgan said she doesn’t necessarily have a problem with these kinds of events being hosted at Gilley’s. But she doesn’t agree with hosting it at a venue that is partially city-owned. Even if there weren’t safety concerns, Morgan thinks the event just isn’t good for Dallas. “It’s a terrible look for our city,” she said.
The Dallas event is also concerning to her considering how many North Texans have been identified as participants in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. “This kind of an event just continues to perpetuate ‘the big lie,’” she said, referring to the claims that the election was stolen from Trump.
Curious if others felt the same way, she put together the petition to try to get the event canceled. So far, it has secured about 570 signatures. She chose to use a petition because she suspects a counter-protest could spark violence.
Even if the petition doesn’t get the event canceled, Morgan hopes Dallas residents will get answers to why the city and the hotel are allowing this convention to take place.
“The city of Dallas is a welcoming city, bringing together people of many varied interests and ideas,” a Dallas spokesperson said in an email to the Observer. “As always, we will do our best to ensure Dallas residents and guests attending this event are safe while in our city.”
Depending on how you look at it, there could be up to a million reasons the city likely won’t take a harder stance on the event.
In 2016, the Exxxotica pornography and adult industry expo was scheduled for a second time at the city’s convention center. The folks at City Hall weren’t happy about it. They banned the event from taking place and were later sued by Exxxotica founder J. Handy. Dallas settled, coughing up $650,000 to Handy and the company. Along with legal fees, the city ended up paying upward of $1 million.
Morgan doesn’t see this as a free speech and censorship issue, though. She used to operate a local zine centered on music, arts and culture in Deep Ellum in the ’90s called Buzzmonger. “It was basically the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll free zine of Deep Ellum,” she said. She describes the zine and the way she operated it as anti-censorship.
“However, there is a big difference between blatant lies that are harmful and free speech,” she said.
In an emailed statement, hotel management said, “As a hospitality company, Omni Hotels & Resorts provides public accommodations and function space for many organizations, none of which reflects or indicates an endorsement for any group or individual.”
A Gilley’s Dallas spokesperson said in an emailed statement, “As with all politically based events, we are simply the venue and have no political affiliation with any group or party.”
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