AUSTIN (KXAN) — A small group of masked protesters often show up at city hall, campaign events, and large gatherings to protest against participating in elections. A local candidate for Congress, Heidi Sloan, accused members of the group of assaulting her Sunday after a campaign event.
Sloan is a Democratic-Socialist candidate in the primary for the Texas 25th Congressional District. She’s running against Democrat Julie Oliver in the Democratic primary. The winner will face incumbent Republican Roger Williams in the November election.
Sloan claims members of the masked groups, Incendiary News Service, the Red Guards, and Defend Our Hoodz followed, harassed, shoved, and hit her with an egg carton filled with eggs and red paint after a post-canvas event at the East Austin bar, Kinda Tropical.
“The line had been crossed between political differences and physical assault,” said Sloan.
The website Incendiary News Service posted a video of a masked person hitting Sloan in the face with an egg carton. The group, Defend Our Hoodz stated they supported the action online.
On Twitter, the group states the Democratic Socialists of America “sent a horde of gringos and Bernie bros to push voting in a gentrifying neighborhood. Working class people of all races don’t vote in the majority, because they understand the imperialist elections don’t serve them. We stand with the revolutionaries who confronted” the Democratic Socialists.
KXAN reached out to the group by email. They deny group members “assaulted” Sloan but when asked if group members hit her with the carton of eggs, they didn’t directly answer.
“The allegations that our organization ‘assaulted’ local congressional candidate Heidi Sloan are totally false and we condemn wild accusations by her as she tries to promote her political campaign. We had no part in the alleged assault, and also know that people feel anger towards those who push voting for politicians who will not solve gentrification or stop US Imperialism,” the generic email for Defend Our Hoodz wrote to KXAN via email. A spokesperson did not want to go on camera with KXAN.
In a statement to KXAN’s Phil Prazan, Incendiary News Service said members of their group were not involved.
“Unlike your attempt to verify her claims, Heidi Sloan has acted without investigation and wants to accuse any group of her alleged assault with no concern for the truth or legal process. Our organization covered the events yesterday, truthfully, from the perspective of the working class,” wrote whoever is behind the generic email for Incendiary News Service.
KXAN also reached out to Red Guards for a comment but did not hear back.
Members of Defend Our Hoodz have been known to police for some time. In 2018, police say a member of the group attacked an elderly man outside an art exhibit. Benjamin Paul-Jordan Weir and James Scott Saunders, members of the group, were arrested and charged. Group members are also accused of vandalizing East Austin businesses.
Red Guards and Defend Our Hoodz protest participating in American elections; instead they call for a revolution to overthrow the capitalist system. Incendiary News Service follows and documents groups like Defend Our Hoodz and Red Guards Austin, often posting articles and messaging about their efforts. Sloan told KXAN their efforts hurt the very people they’re hoping to help.
“That’s a form of voter suppression. That is continuing to propagate oppression we have seen for too long. And I think it’s time we speak out against that,” said Sloan.
The Red Guards and Defend Our Hoodz are different from Democratic-Socialism, whose supporters believe change should come from within the American election system.
The Red Guards also have a history of brawling with other small political groups in Austin.
Sloan, however, did not call the police or make a report. She believes doing so would escalate the situation. She opposes many aspects of the countries penal, the correctional system, and feels victims of crimes – like her – don’t get enough say in how punishment is dealt. She is working with her lawyers on how to move forward.
The Austin Police Department says you should always make a report if you feel like you’ve been assaulted.
Sloan’s opponent in the Democratic Primary Julie Oliver sent a message of support today.
“I’m extremely upset to hear that Heidi Sloan was assaulted by a destructive group whose aim is suppressing turnout in Black and working-class communities. She should be treated with respect, and I want her team to know we’re united against those seeking to intimidate, harass, and prevent progress,” said Oliver.