The last day of the Texas legislative session nearly erupted in a fistfight as protesters crashed the chamber’s gallery on Monday in opposition to the sanctuary cities ban. In the melee that ensued, Republican Matt Rinaldi said he called ICE on the protesters, which enraged Democrats. According to the Dallas News, a shoving match ensued and one of the Democrats reportedly threatened to “get” Rinaldi, prompting him to inform the Democrat that he would shoot in self defense.
According to the Dallas News:
In a prepared statement, Rinaldi said he called ICE officials to report the protesters who held signs that declared they were unauthorized immigrants. The protesters became so noisy that security officials escorted many of them from the House gallery. Rinaldi said that he rebuked his colleagues for “inciting” the protesters, “which are illegal,” and that the House members threatened him physically.
“I made it clear that if he attempted to, in his words, ‘get me,’ I would shoot him in self defense,” Rinaldi said in the statement he shared on Twitter. “I am currently under DPS protection.”
Here’s Rinaldi’s statement:
— Matt Rinaldi (@MattRinaldiTX) May 29, 2017
Rinaldi, the report added, left the House floor, and the door to his office was locked.
“I was pushed, jostled and someone threatened to kill me,” Rinaldi said, according to the Texas Tribune. “It was basically just bullying.”
Nevárez told the Tribune 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.
The Tribune added:
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.
The Tribune report said that Rinaldi was angry because House Democrats were “bragging about how great it was and they were inciting them to break the House rules and break Texas law.”
“I took issue with that,” he said.
“We jawed back and forth and one of them physically assaulted me and another threatened my life, actually,” he added.
Democrats denied that statement and said they were simply cheering members of the public exercising their First Amendment rights.
Adrian Reyna, an organizer with United We Dream, said there’s more of this to come.
“We have to show resistance the whole summer,” he said. “We have identified key representatives that we will take out of office who voted for SB 4. People are outraged, people are tired of the Legislature walking all over people.”
— James Barragán (@James_Barragan) May 29, 2017
Here’s more video:
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