The room was quiet as a Plano resident named Bernard approached the lectern Monday evening to address the Plano City Council. He, like nine others, was there to discuss a May 2 Marvin Scott III protest that blocked traffic at a Plano intersection. Wearing a navy suit, Bernard cleared his throat just before he spoke into the microphone.

“I left my business early today to come and address you regarding what I have seen and share my, I’d say my frustration, but also my disgust at what I saw as a lack of responsiveness of the leadership of our Plano Police Department and handling of the BLM agitators this last week,” he said. The audience burst into applause.

Bernard said a video that captured the events at the protest had over one million views. But what viewers saw, according to Bernard, was a Plano police officer dealing with “BLM agitators,” who were blocking traffic, interrupting residents and “potential customers.”

Multiple people addressed the council about the protest incident during the public comments section of the council meeting. Many believed the police officers didn’t do enough, while others claimed they should have made arrests. Some worried that the incident would turn Plano into Portland, where Black Lives Matter protests were frequent.

“What that has done now is create a situation where people are less inclined to obey the law and protest legally,” Bernard said. “They’re probably emboldened to come here and do this again because they saw a lack of response from our police force. And what’s most dangerous is, and I think what we’re missing, is Plano has now been highlighted in the national scene as a place where there’s inadequate police response to things like this.

“And we know these agitators, whether they’re Antifa, BLM or the next plague of extremists, will want to test their mindset, their ideas…. on Plano.”

Cries for Justice

On Sunday, May 2 a Plano police officer responded to a call about a traffic hazard at the Preston Road and State Highway 121 intersection. The caller claimed the traffic light wasn’t working, only for the officer to discover 50 protestors in and around the roadway. Marvin’s family, friends and community members have been holding multiple protests in Collin County since Marvin Scott III’s death at the Collin County Jail and demanding the arrests of the detention officers involved in his death.

Plano police quickly called for backup.

In video footage of the incident, an unidentified man quickly approached a protester, hurling curses and yelling at them to get out of the way. Plano police tried to calm him down. When he noticed a woman with her phone pointed at him, the man attempted to knock her phone out of her hand while another protester pointed a taser at him to protect her. Other protestors rushed toward the man, and both parties began yelling back and forth. Even the Scott family attorney, Lee Merritt, got involved.

According to Plano police’s Facebook post, the woman who was recording the video told police that the man had assaulted her. He didn’t hurt her, she said, but she felt threatened.

“There were no injuries or property damaged during this incident and no one pointed a firearm at anyone,” police wrote in the post. “It is regrettable that so many people have falsely reported on this incident over social media.”

Conservative Response

The woman’s video appeared on social media shortly after the incident, and the confrontation went viral. Conservative outlets ran with it and framed the man as a victim who had a gun pointed at him. The Dallas Morning News reported that the video “gained new life … when a far-right internet personality tweeted the clip.” The News didn’t identify this person. 

On Monday morning, the Plano Police Department posted a statement about the incident on Facebook. Police disputed the pointed gun claim by sharing a picture of the taser that the protester was pointing. A couple of hours later, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted a statement. He wrote that lawlessness has taken root in Plano due to “a group of radical-left armed agitators and a police chief unwilling to enforce the law.”

“I will always support Texans’ First Amendment right to ‘peacefully assemble’ and to ‘petition the government for a redress of grievances,’” Paxton wrote. “But I will never allow our beautiful Texas cities and neighborhoods to become Portland or Seattle or San Francisco because of the unchecked left.”

Paxton said he spoke with Plano Police Chief Ed Drain. He claims Drain “was anxious to excuse the rioters.”

“Most law enforcement officers are ready and willing to uphold law and order,” Paxton wrote. “We need them to do that. But too many are held back by politically motivated leaders, crippled by the woke agitators, now aiders and abettors to liberal lunacy.”

Public Outcry

During Monday night’s council meeting, Plano Mayor John Muns asked those present to quiet down several times, as people kept cheering and making comments while others were speaking. 

One woman who spoke was a Plano resident of 12 years. She struggled to understand why the man who confronted the protesters was charged with assault. She said the man who was charged was doxed, revealing his home address, business address and his wife’s information online. “I’m a big believer in public safety, [and] a bigger believer in law and order,” she said. “I believe that those actions of the protesters were illegal. I’m deeply concerned that they’ve not been arrested.”

The founder of “Patriots At-Large,” an alt-right group with about 6,000 members nationwide, read a letter his wife wrote to Chief Drain. In the letter, his wife asked why the police officer told the man to leave and chose to protect the “law-breaking protesters blocking the road.”

Another woman tried explaining why the protest was taking place. The audience interrupted her multiple times while she was speaking. “As a mother, I cannot imagine having to bury my child,” she said. “And the cognitive dissonance in here blows my mind. We’re an educated city… This is ridiculous.”

A protester who attended the May 2 incident said that they have held six peaceful protests throughout Frisco and Allen. She claimed the group only crossed into Plano that day to get back to where they had started.

“For 57 days, this family has asked for justice, answers and nothing more than any one of you or anyone in this audience would ask for if it was their child lying on a cold slab in a morgue,” she said. “So what do they do? The only thing they can do — they use their voice. They use their First Amendment right.”

Bailey Lewis

Bailey Lewis recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma and served as The OU Daily's news editor and enterprise editor. Previously, she was a summer 2020 news intern at the Malheur Enterprise,...