Texas Leg’s Last Day in Session Ends With Near Brawl When Rep. Claims He Called ICE on Illegal Protesters
“I was pushed, jostled and someone threatened to kill me”
Today was the last day of the Texas legislative regular session. But before the typical closing ceremonies were held, a near brawl broke out between lawmakers.
Stoked by anti-SB 4 protestors, Democrat and Republican lawmakers exchanged harsh words and a few shoves. Senate Bill 4 is the state’s Sanctuary City bill, which would require local and campus law enforcement to comply with federal immigration communication laws, or be subject to civil and criminal penalties. Governor Abbott signed the bill into law earlier this month.
At the center of the SB-4 conflict was Republican state Rep. Matt Rinaldi, who said he called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on protestors carrying “I am illegal and here to stay” placards. After being manhandled and harassed (Rinaldi claims), he responded to an alleged threat on his person by saying he would respond to any attempts on his life by shooting the offending Representative in self-defense.
A statement regarding today. pic.twitter.com/M0BcBXa43P
— Matt Rinaldi (@MattRinaldiTX) May 29, 2017
The Texas Tribune has more details:
In a statement, Rinaldi said state Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, “threatened my life on the House floor,” and that Rinaldi is currently under the protection of the Department of Public Safety as a result.
“I was pushed, jostled and someone threatened to kill me,” Rinaldi said. “It was basically just bullying.”
Nevárez said in an interview with the Tribune that he put his hands on Rinaldi and told him to take his argument outside the House chamber. “But was I going to shoot the guy? No,” he said.
After the incident, Nevárez tweeted in response to Rinaldi’s claims: “He’s a liar and hateful man. Got no use for him. God bless him.”
DPS was not available to comment Monday because of the Memorial Day holiday.
Hispanic Democratic lawmakers involved in the altercation said it wasn’t physical but indicated that Rinaldi got into people’s faces and cursed repeatedly. Video shot from the House floor shows both Republicans and Democrats pushing each other.
“He came up to us and said, ‘I’m glad I just called ICE to have all these people deported,’” said state Rep. César Blanco, D-El Paso, whose account was echoed by state Reps. Armando Walle, D-Houston, and Ramon Romero, D-Fort Worth.
“He said, ‘I called ICE — fuck them,'” Romero added. Rinaldi also turned to the Democratic lawmakers and yelled, “Fuck you,” to the “point where spit was hitting” their faces, Romero said.
The skirmish started while lawmakers were taking a few moments to recognize House staff and clerks. Protesters who packed the House gallery erupted into chants in opposition of Senate Bill 4.
The usual suspects condemned Rinaldi’s assurance he would exercise effective self-defense:
— James Barragán (@James_Barragan) May 29, 2017
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