The Republic of Texas is unlike any other volunteer organization in what used to be the Republic of Texas.
Its monthly meetings are called joint sessions of congress. Members have minted their own silver and gold currency and carry ID cards warning police officers they are diplomatic representatives of the nation of Texas. Its vice president, a retired telephone company worker, sent a letter in 2011 to the governor of Oklahoma, informing her that she faced indictment because her state’s counties and territories were “trespassing inside the geographical boundaries” of the nation.
Such letters have failed to convince the authorities of the group’s novel belief — that Texas never legally became part of the United States and remains a separate nation. As a result of that belief, the group claims it had a duty to form a government, with a state department and with a court system run in part by a chiropractor in the Houston suburb of Katy.
Members say their government is neither a mock system nor a prank, but a legitimate authority with executive, legislative and judicial branches. They spend their time sitting through eight-hour congressional meetings and debating legislation. (The letter to Oklahoma officials refers to Senate Bill No. 1102-1201.) Still, officials who receive one of the group’s many letters typically “just throw it in the trash can,” acknowledged the Republic’s president, John Jarnecke, 72.
Members have minted their own silver and gold currency and carry ID cards warning police officers they are diplomatic representatives of the nation of Texas. Credit Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times
Until last month.
The group’s Valentine’s Day meeting in Bryan had barely started at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall — each woman in the audience had been handed a rose — when several local, state and federal law enforcement officials burst through the door. No one was arrested in the raid, which included F.B.I. agents, but dozens of the group’s supporters were detained. Some were fingerprinted, and cellphones and briefcases were confiscated from others.
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