AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A conservative power broker told Texas’ governor to have National Guard troops “shoot to kill” amid protests last month against racial injustice and police brutality.
Steve Hotze, a Houston-based critic of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, left that message in a voicemail to the governor’s chief of staff on the weekend of June 6, according to The Texas Tribune. Abbott had activated the Texas National Guard after some protests became violent and destructive.
“I want you to give a message to the governor,” Hotze can be heard saying on a recording published by the online news outlet. “I want to make sure that he has National Guard down here and they have the order to shoot to kill if any of these … people start rioting like they have in Dallas, start tearing down businesses. … That’s the only way you restore order. Kill ’em. Thank you.”
Hotze acknowledged the comment in a Facebook post Saturday, writing “it’s not about race but has everything to do with the future of America.”
The voicemail drew rebuke from Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who on Twitter called it “absolutely disgusting and reprehensible.”
Hotze has long been a fierce opponent of same-sex marriage. More recently, he’s sued Abbott and Houston-area officials over their orders responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
Abbott’s office declined to comment to the Tribune and did not immediately respond to a public records request for the voicemail Saturday.