The image of a flaming SUV is certainly striking. The implication of the flyer paid for by the Brian Byrd campaign for mayor is that anarchy will happen unless the current councilmember is elected to the city’s highest office. The move comes straight from Donald Trump’s disastrously failed U.S. presidential campaign: “Vote for me, or your cities will descend into lawlessness and violence! Even though I was the guy in office when the scant lawlessness and violence that I’m referring to occurred.”
At least Byrd could have used an image from Portland or some other U.S. city where rabblerousers took advantage of the largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protests to spraypaint stuff and set it on fire.
The image on Byrd’s ad, as a quick search of Shuttershock reveals, is from Paris.
And not even Paris, Texas.
“Who Do You Trust to Keep Us Safe?” the ad goes on to ask, implying that the answer is Byrd and the Fort Worth police. The back of the flyer reads, “Brian believes strong public safety is the backbone of our city.”
With its deception, the flyer panders to racist fears that any discussion about police reform and increased accountability will lead to torched cars, spraypainted monuments, and anarchy lite. The weeks of protests against police brutality last summer in Fort Worth weren’t always peaceful, but they were nonviolent. Just as 93% of them were across the country, according to an international group that monitors civil unrest.
Byrd appears to be going on the offensive against an imaginary villain in a mayoral race that has, until now, remained relatively civil. A lone exception was a previous flyer from Byrd aimed directly at the race’s most prominent Black candidate, Deborah Peoples. For Byrd, going full-on right-wing asshat probably has something to do with Axiom Strategies, a political consulting company founded by Jeff Roe. The former senior strategist for and campaign manager of Sen. Ted Cruz’s failed 2016 presidential campaign — y’know, the one where Sweaty Teddy had to choke down insults to his wife’s physical appearance and his father from the orange guy — recently received $620 for “consulting” by Byrd’s campaign, according to campaign finance disclosures.
Multiple calls and emails to Axiom, which handles Byrd’s campaign-related press releases, were not returned.
In a recent Axiom press release, Byrd’s campaign said the mayoral candidate has raised $245,831 to date (in addition to a large personal loan), which puts him basically on par with mayoral frontrunner Mattie Parker, who also has around $500,000 in the bank. Councilmember Ann Zadeh reported $134,000 on hand while Peoples reported around $40,000 available in campaign funds.
In his statement, Byrd said, “This campaign has reached out to every corner of Fort Worth, working hard to incorporate every resident into the vision of what our city could become over the next decades ahead and beyond.”
Guess Brian Byrd thinks “our city” could become Paris, France.
This story has been updated to reflect corrected campaign figures for the Zadeh and Peoples campaigns.