Texan lawmakers trade violent threats, scuffle over immigration protest (VIDEO)
The demonstration concerned the recently approved bill SB4, which compels local police to enforce federal immigration law. The measure made so-called "sanctuary" immigration ordinances illegal in Texas, and police face jail time and removal from office for not enforcing the law.
Hundreds of protesters filled the gallery, chanting “Here to stay!” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho SB4 has got to go!” State troopers eventually cleared them from that part of the building but the group continued its protest on the ground floor.
Meanwhile, in the chamber tempers flared to the point where legislators jostled each other and traded insults and threats. A video of the scuffle was posted on Twitter by local news outlet KVUE.
During the fracas Republican Matt Rinaldi, from suburban Dallas, said he called ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials on the protesters, whom he later claimed were “illegal immigrants.”
In a news conference following the dust-up Democrats alleged that Rinaldi threatened to shoot Democrat Poncho Nevarez. Rinaldi was also involved in a scuffle with another Democrat, Cesar Blanco.
Rinaldi responded to the allegations in a statement posted on Facebook, claiming he was himself threatened by Nevarez.
The dramatic exchange comes less than a week after Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte was charged with assault for allegedly attacking a reporter. The following day, Gianforte won the vote and was elected to Congress.