Trump supporters, QAnon theories force nature preserve shutdown – media
A US butterfly sanctuary has shut down indefinitely, citing security concerns after allegedly being targeted by supporters of former president Donald Trump. The private facility in Texas had been the subject of sex trafficking and illegal migration claims reportedly linked to the QAnon movement.
The National Butterfly Center, which is situated at the Rio Grande riverbank on the US-Mexico border, said in a statement on Wednesday that it will close down “for the immediate future” due to “disruption caused by false and defamatory attacks directed by political operatives.”
Last week, there was a temporary closure at the sanctuary because of “credible threats” related to a meeting of border security advocates in the neighboring city of McAllen that apparently saw the participation of Trump supporters, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
According to Reuters, the center had come under fire from Trump supporters after filing a lawsuit in 2017 against the former president’s plan to build a border wall on the grounds that it would infringe on its property. The complaint claimed the wall would “effectively [destroy]” the 100-acre nature preserve.
The sex trafficking and illegal migrant smuggling accusations were apparently repeated by ‘conspiracy theorists’ who arrived at the sanctuary in recent days, its Executive Director Marianna Trevino-Wright told media outlets. Two women reportedly demanded access to off-limits areas to observe “illegals crossing on rafts,” while Trevino-Wright released audio of one woman accusing the center of facilitating child sexual abuse.
A scuffle apparently ensued during that incident, while other individuals have posted attacks on the center on social media. The AFP reported that “several right-wing activists” had shared videos of themselves in front of the sanctuary.
“We don’t think the threat has passed,” Trevino-Wright told AFP on Wednesday, alleging repeated “provocations” from such individuals. She added that the center feared the accusations would push someone to “take action.”
Noting that “the safety of our staff and visitors is our primary concern,” Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the North American Butterfly Association, which runs the center, said that it hoped to reopen after “authorities and professionals who are helping us navigate this situation give us the green light.”