Pushing, shoving leads to threats during protests over Texas' anti-sanctuary bill

The Texas State capitol building hosted a fiery stand-off Monday as lawmakers allegedly exchanged violent threats after a Republican legislator called immigration officials on protesters at the building. Supporters say it's about protecting Texans and enforcing the rule of law.

Romero said numerous protestors present were activists and friends, and that the signs they carried said, "See you at the polls", nothing about breaking state or federal immigration laws.

The normally ceremonial last day of the legislative session briefly descended into chaos on Monday, as proceedings in the House were disrupted by large protests and at least one Republican lawmaker called immigration authorities on the protesters.

Video captured by KVUE shows lawmakers pushing each other on the state House floor. The parliamentarian stepped in and diffused the fight.

State Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Farmers Branch, spent his Memorial Day turning the House floor into a battlefield, picking fights with protestors and colleagues for exercising that freedom. During the scuffle, Rinaldi threatened to shoot Representative Poncho Nevárez.

"I walked away from the guy, but some of my colleagues heard him say he was going to put a bullet in my brain".

In a statement posted to Facebook, Rinaldi admitted he did make the threat, but only after he said Nevarez threatened his life.

The Republican released a statement in which he accused Representative Poncho Nevarez of saying he would "get me on the way to my car" and said Ramon Romero had assaulted him while other Democrats had had to be held back by colleagues.

"He later approached me and reiterated that 'I had to leave at some point, and he would get me, '" Rinaldi wrote.

Texas lawmakers nearly got into a fistfight today, with one Republican warning a Democrat that he would shoot him in self defense if necessary. I reached out to Texas DPS regarding the claim and am awaiting a response. Armando Walle, D-Houston, and Ramon Romero, D-Fort Worth.

Nevarez told CNN that physical altercations should never happen on the House floor, which is why he challenged Rinaldi to bring the heated discussion outside. He said he saw signs stating the protesters were not legal residents, so he made a decision to call ICE.

That led to a near-scuffle with Democratic Rep. Cesar Blanco. Our reactions were honest.

"Let me be clear, this was a personal attack on me as a son of Mexican immigrants", Romero said. I voiced my feelings. There was then a debate about which immigrants actually "loved" the United States, and as tempers grew heated, "members of [Rinaldi's] own party came to pull him away, making his accusation of being assaulted completely baseless".

"Matt Rinaldi gave the flawless example of why there's a problem with SB 4", Romero tells The Texas Tribune. "I think that's racial profiling and that's just not right", said Jessica Azua of the Texas Organizing Project. I am deeply disappointed in his comments and attitude towards Hispanics and immigrants.

  • Larry Hoffman