MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas — Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the Texas Tribune here.
The “Rally against Censorship” featuring Kyle Rittenhouse has found a new venue in Conroe, days after a local brewery pulled out of the event.
The Jan. 26 event will now be held at the Lone Star Convention and Expo Center, a Montgomery County-owned facility.
Rittenhouse has emerged as something of a conservative icon, building a minor anti-media and anti-censorship platform since being acquitted of fatally shooting two people at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The venue change follows days of back and forth between Rittenhouse, the event host Defiance Press and Southern Star Brewery, a privately owned business whose owner said it was inundated with threats, harassment and accusations of censorship after it announced it would not allow the event to be hosted there because of complaints from patrons.
Southern Star Brewery CEO Dave Fougeron has disputed claims by Rittenhouse and other prominent right-wing figures that he canceled the event because of pressure from a “woke mob” or retailers such as San Antonio-based H-E-B. Fougeron also said he was not aware until last week that Rittenhouse was the event’s “special guest.”
Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough is among Fougeron’s critics and, like Rittenhouse, accused the brewery of submitting to “cancel culture.”
“While I support a business or property owners’ right to hold or not to hold an event based upon their values, giving in to woke organizations, especially in the current cancel culture environment is foolish,” Keough told the Conroe Courier.
Keough’s chief of staff, Jason Millsaps, said the judge had nothing to do with the decision to book Rittenhouse at the convention center. “This is a facility that is open to anyone in the public that can reach the agreement to rent the space,” he said. “... We don’t discriminate on events wanting to rent our space.”
Earlier this week, a hotel on the Las Vegas strip also canceled a reception featuring Rittenhouse that was to be hosted by a gun rights group, saying the event “did not align with our property’s core event guidelines.”
The Conroe event will also include Daniel Miller, the leader of TEXIT, a group that advocates for Texas to secede from the United States. The event organizer, Conroe-based Defiance Press, describes itself as “active in the fight against censorship through publishing conservative books which have been widely censored from mainstream media,” and has published works such as “Corona-fascism” and a biography of Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff who refused a judge’s order to stop racial profiling by his department.
Defiance Press has also published pro-Texas secessionist materials.
The recent spat in Conroe is Rittenhouse’s latest in Texas: Last year, he announced that he planned to attend Texas A&M University, a claim he walked back after the university said he had not been accepted. Rittenhouse, who is from Illinois, later said he plans to attend Blinn College, a two-year school in Brenham, and then transfer to Texas A&M.
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