TYLER, Texas--Armed supporters of Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler) brutally beat and assaulted Ryan Miller, the campaign manager for Gohmert's opponent, Hank Gilbert (D-Tyler) around 2:30 PM CST Sunday during a peaceful rally organized to protest the unconstitutional occupation of Portland, Oregon on the courthouse square in downtown Tyler.
Miller was attacked by at least four protesters, some of whom were armed, and sustained blows to the head and other parts of his body, as well as a large gash under his eye. The incident occurred as officers from the Tyler Police Department drove around the square idly, waving at the Blue Lives Matter counter-protesters who had come to support Gilbert's opponent.
Gohmert's supporters disrupted the rally by shouting, "Louie! Louie! Louie!" repeatedly, including while Miller was being brutally attacked.
A police report has been filed with Tyler police, who showed up on the square after the violence was well-underway.
"We had more than 100 people RSVP to participate in this protest, and were flooded with calls, texts, and emails in the 20 minutes before it began with folks telling us they would not be getting out of their cars after seeing the mass of armed counter-protesters who had descended upon the square," said Vince Leibowitz, a consultant for Gilbert.
Gilbert called on Gohmert to denounce the violence his supporters engaged in.
"Louie Gohmert needs to immediately denounce the violence that occurred in his name in downtown Tyler today," Gilbert said. "When your armed thugs are shouting your name as they beat the hell out of a 21-year-old political operative, you need to get your people under control," Gilbert said. "Gohmert also needs to get his disgusting rhetoric under control, because, just like Donald Trump, the vitriol that spills out of his mouth leads to violence. This time, against a 21-year-old college kid," Gilbert said.
Gilbert also called on the Texas Rangers to immediately investigate the conduct of the Tyler Police Department in today's matter. "The Tyler police were idly driving around the square in their patrol cars, and waving at the counter-protesters who were heavily armed," Gilbert said. "They didn't get on the square until the violence was well underway and weren't even near the scene of the actual protest until Ryan had already been beaten up," Gilbert said. "This is after we were told by the city last week there would be a sufficient police presence downtown for our rally," Gilbert continued.
"I immediately call upon Texas Governor Greg Abbott to direct the Texas Rangers to investigate why the Tyler Police Department was not actively working to prevent violence when more than 100 armed thugs descended on the square," Gilbert said. "I also call upon the city of Tyler to immediately undertake an internal investigation of this matter, to determine if proper procedures were followed," Gilbert said. Gilbert said he was also calling on the FBI to investigate the organizers of the counter-protest to determine if they had intended to engage in pre-medidated violence today, noting it seemed their intent was to provoke violence all along.
"We fully intend to make sure that felony charges are brought against the person who stole Ryan's brand new iPhone, which costs enough that theft of that device is a felony in Texas. We also intend to ensure that those who attacked Ryan are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Gilbert concluded.
Hank Gilbert is a lifelong Texan, and small business owner and rancher from Tyler. He is widely known as Texas' premier advocate for eminent domain reform and his work stopping the Trans-Texas Corridor highway project, which would have taken tens of thousands of acres of family farmland for a multi-lane highway.