GONZALES — Local businessman Mike Hanson addressed city council Tuesday night and informed them that federal officials had secretly taken over local law enforcement. Four minutes later, he got the opportunity to find out if his conspiracy theory was true.
Hanson was participating in the public comments section of the meeting in which citizens can voice praise or concerns to the council and those assembled. Each speaker is provided three minutes of talk time.
Hanson began by attempting to draw a comparison between Texas’ independence from Mexico to his belief that the town is now being taken over by Federal officials.
“I’m going to hold you personably responsible, mayor, when somebody gets killed, or hurt, we are going to hold you responsible after tonight,” Hanson said, growing visibly and audibly agitated. “We want to keep our local police officers, peace officers and our sheriffs local. Locally controlled.”
He continued by saying that most people would be surprised that in the last year, the Gonzales Police Department had been taken over by the ATF, DEA and “God knows what else, because it’s secret.”
He then blamed local media for not reporting on these developments and the police chief for denying any of this was happening.
“You’ve got black ski-masked thugs running around who won’t identify themselves whatsoever,” Hanson said. “They’re stealing. They’re not identifying themselves, they’re stealing personal property, their money, cars— they call it ‘asset forfeit seizures.’
“We need to stop this. They’re killing our local dogs, they’re breaking windows and doors on private property and they’re putting guns to children’s heads, they’re putting grenades in people’s windows and most of all they’re breaking the Texas Bill of Rights.”
He continued, speaking about confronting the ATF when they were allegedly in town and placing the evidence on YouTube. It was then that his three minutes expired and the timer, controlled by Mayor Bobby Logan, began to sound.
“Thank you, Mr. Hanson,” Logan said.
“We have another person, I’m not through,” Hanson said.
“Yes you are,” Logan replied.
“We got eight people signed up,” countered Hanson, believing that this entitled him to more speaking time.
It was then that Hanson began yelling at the mayor.
“If you can’t do this, you need to get off,” Hanson said. “Mayor, you knew about this three months ago when I told you about the black ski masks. You said you would not do anything about this!”
It was at this point that Gonzales Police Chief Tim Crow approached Hanson, attempting to get him to leave the lectern and allow the next speaker to have their three minutes. Hanson refused to move and that is when Crow placed him under arrest for Disruption of a Meeting, a Class B misdemeanor.
“I’m not going to be under arrest. Try it,” Hanson said.
He was also charged with Resisting Arrest, a Class A misdemeanor.
“They do not want this out in this town, “ Hanson shouted. “Look at what he’s doing. They’ve been taken over by the feds!”
Hanson began addressing a person seated to his right that was videotaping the moment for Hanson’s webpage.
“Make sure you get it all out,” he said.
“The Feds are taking over our town. You had better wake up,” he yelled as Crow led him out of chambers.
The video was posted online where the headline implied that Hanson was arrested for simply going over his allotted time. The story was discussed on the website of conspiracy-peddling radio talk show personality and vitamin hawker Alex Jones, who spoke of Hanson frantically calling him earlier in the week about police “swat teaming hundreds of houses” in Gonzales and federalizing the town.
Jones continued by saying that the feds were taking over properties in Gonzales because of the oil and gas profits that could be made from them.
“He says no matter where he drives, there are armored trailers and people in black uniforms raiding houses,” Jones said.
“Now he’s going to be putting all of his money into running for city council, and he’s going to come after all of you…politically, and you’ve only made it 50 times worse,” Jones said.
Following Hanson’s arrest, a few people gathered in front of the police station with signs reading “Fed up with feds” and “Free Mike Hanson Speech Is Not A Crime.”
Hanson was released Wednesday morning after posting bond.
Hanson initiated his federal takeover theory following the arrest of six Gonzales County residents in June 2014 following a joint operation between Gonzales Police Department, Gonzales County Sheriff’s Office and the Houston division of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency.
As that effort, dubbed Operation Come and Take It, officers executed a search warrant on a property he manages. One of the federal officers was wearing a black hood commonly used by undercover officers, and he was confronted by Hanson.
On Sept. 30, GCSO issued a statement that 15 people had been arrested as they wrapped up a similar operation.
During the recent operation, six search warrants and eight arrest warrants were issued, according to Chief Deputy Jeromy Belin.
Seven firearms (some of them stolen), body armor, a large amount of cash, two vehicles and several other items believe to be gained or purchased from illegal narcotics sales.
Details on who was arrested and the charges they face can be viewed by visiting the Facebook pages maintained by Gonzales Inquirer, Gonzales County Sheriff’s Office or Gonzales Police Department.