A near-brawl broke out on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives on Monday after a Republican legislator declared he had called Immigration and Customs Enforcement on protesters decrying the state’s new anti–sanctuary city bill, according to two Democratic congressmen.
Democratic Reps. Ramon Romero Jr. and Cesar Blanco told reporters that they were discussing the demonstration, which sent hundreds into the gallery chanting in protest of Texas SB4, which threatens local law enforcement agents with jail if they do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. They were interrupted, Romero and Blanco said, by GOP Rep. Matt Rinaldi, who called the protesters a “disgrace” and said, “Fuck them, I called ICE.”
In the resulting fracas, Rinaldi said he was pushed and shoved, calling the other representatives’ behavior “basically just bullying.” Another rep, Justin Rodriguez, told the Texas Tribune he heard Rinaldi threaten to “put a bullet in one of my colleagues’ heads.” For his part, Rinaldi told the Tribune that some of the protesters held signs reading “I’m illegal and I’m here to stay,” and that he called ICE “to incentivize them to leave the House.”
Rinaldi later issued a statement on social media:
“I’ve never seen anything like this on the House floor,” Romero told the Observer. “I’ve never seen a lawmaker cuss another lawmaker out like that.”
Rinaldi’s district is in the city of Irving. Notes the Observer’s editor on Twitter: