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Immigration Law

"Stochastic Terrorism" by QAnon Trumpers Forces Closure of Border Butterfly Sanctuary

Sneha Dey, Texas Tribune, Feb. 2, 2022

"A South Texas butterfly sanctuary has closed after it was the target of conspiracy theories that escalated into credible threats. The National Butterfly Center, along the U.S.-Mexico border in Mission, has long been the target of QAnon conspiracy theories falsely tying the organization to human trafficking. ... “They tell these lies in a variety of forms through all of their channels to provoke stochastic terrorism,” said the center’s executive director Marianna Treviño-Wright. Treviño-Wright suspects the butterfly center attracted the conspiracists’ attention because of a lawsuit it filed against the Trump administration in 2017. The center argued that proposed border wall construction threatened to drive through the center and destroy butterfly habitats. Five years later, the lawsuit is still ongoing in federal court. In 2019, Brian Kolfage, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, tweeted out false rumors accusing Treviño-Wright of human trafficking. The National Butterfly Center responded by suing Kolfage and his organization, We Build the Wall, for defamation and disparagement in state court. Kolfage and others were indicted in 2020 over allegedly redirecting funds from We Build the Wall to personal expenses. ... On Wednesday, the butterfly sanctuary closed again — this time, indefinitely — due to safety concerns for staff and the public. ... “It’s incredibly distressing that the United States has come to the point where a really significant part of the public is just no longer tethered to reality,” said Jeffrey Glassberg, the founder of the North American Butterfly Association, the parent organization of the butterfly center. ​​Glassberg has worked as a molecular biologist and patented DNA fingerprinting. He authored several books on butterflies before he established the butterfly center out of an empty onion field. For the butterfly conservatory to be at the center of false trafficking allegations, he said, “nothing could be more absurd, frankly.”"