About 30 members and supporters of This Is Texas Freedom Force stood in front of the Alamo Cenotaph late Friday morning dressed in black T-shirts and waving Texas or American flags. Several members openly carried large automatic rifles across their chests or pistols on their hips.
Off to the side, a separate group of five people stood next to a banner marking them as members of local Concilio Zapatista 4383 chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. One, Henry Rodriguez, carried a book under one arm, “Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth.”
The provocatively titled book, released earlier this week, was written by three Texas journalists and tells a more complete story than what it calls “the American myth.” The book covers the period leading up to the Texas war of independence, through the battle, and into the decades during which that myth grew, and includes the current political battles surrounding proposed updates to the site.
Rodriguez and other LULAC members were on the plaza demanding that this more inclusive history of the Alamo be told as part of those proposed updates to the site, and that it honor everyone who died during the battle, including Mexican soldiers. The group also announced that they planned to formally invite the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Mexican Government Honor Guard “to pay a sacred tribute to those who are buried at the Alamo,” according to a press release issued by the chapter.
TITFF members came out to protest that idea, arguing that it would be inappropriate to honor the enemy.
Both groups protested their points peacefully, hardly exchanging words with each other.
“We’re here because we want to tell all sides of the story,” Rodriguez told the San Antonio Report. “We want the city to designate a day to honor the dead. All parties. All parties. I’m talking Mexican-Americans, Tejanos, indigenous people, black slaves, everybody because they were in this together.”
Rodriguez, executive director of the local LULAC chapter, said he and other advocates plan to go to City Council on Wednesday and request the city designate a day to honor all of the dead from the Battle of the Alamo.
“Are they not deserving of the same proper and precise respect as afforded the Gettysburg Battlefield?” asked LULAC member Jose Sierra Jr. “The historically documented Alamo blood-carpeted battlefield is no less or no more deserving of equal respect and honor as the Gettysburg battlefield.”
In a statement to the press released Thursday, Texas State Director of LULAC Rodolfo Rosales Jr. said it’s time Texas public schools were required to “accurately teach this period of our state’s history.” LULAC also is asking “that publicly-supported landmarks reflect the facts, not perpetuate falsehoods that elevate the Caucasian side of the story and denigrate the role of Mexicans,” Rosales said.
This Is Texas Freedom Force President Brandon Burkhart said he and TITFF members don’t feel it’s appropriate to include a monument or any other type of recognition to Mexican soldiers who died in the Battle of the Alamo.
“We came here today to oppose LULAC’s message of wanting … to honor the Mexico soldiers that died during the Battle of the Alamo,” Burkhart said. “We do not agree with that. You don’t honor tyrants, and that’s exactly what they were.”
TITFF would like the site to remain focused on those who fought against Santa Anna’s forces, Burkhart said. The general who led Mexican forces in their efforts to reclaim the Alamo “was a dictator,” according to Burkhart, so he and his men should not be honored in any way.
“Why do they think that it’s okay to honor Santa Anna and the Mexico soldiers that came here flying red flags, basically saying that ‘We are not taking prisoners, we’re gonna kill everybody on site’?” And the only thing that the Alamo defenders were doing was trying to defend their liberty, freedom, and their God given rights.”
While both sides remained peaceful throughout their demonstrations, tensions rose slightly when both parties began giving microphoned speeches consecutively. While Rodriguez and Sierra spoke on behalf of LULAC to members of the media, George Rodriguez and Weston Martinez spoke in support of TITFF.
Both parties left the plaza after about two hours.