Democratic Texas representative Cesar Blanco says he has received a number of racist phone messages following a chaotic scuffle between lawmakers on the Texas statehouse floor Monday.
In one message, whose audio Blanco posted to Twitter, the caller said, “Yeah, I stand with Matt Rinaldi, and f— the illegal [aliens],” before using a derogatory slur to refer to those of Hispanic descent.
“My office is now receiving these calls,” Blanco wrote in another tweet. “@MattRinaldiTX comments incite hate and racism.”
Blanco’s tweets and the phone calls he received come on the heels of a fight on the statehouse floor that ensued Monday after Texas Republican Matt Rinaldi told Democrats that he had complained to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers about hundreds of protesters in the gallery of the House.
The protesters had gathered to demonstrate against Senate Bill 4, which would allow police officers to question people on their immigration status if they are detained or arrested. It is set to go into effect on Sept. 1. It would also allow for local officers to be penalised if they intentionally push back against federal requests to detain suspected illegal immigrants.
A number of Democrats reportedly clapped for the protesters, who eventually had to be removed for getting too loud. Shortly after, lawmakers told The Texas Tribune that Rinaldi approached them and said that he had called ICE “to have all these people deported.” He also reportedly yelled, “F–k them” and “F–k you.”
In a statement, Rinaldi claimed that state Rep. Poncho Nevàrez of Eagle Pass threatened his life and told him that he would “get [him] on the way to [his] car.”
Nevàrez told the Tribune that he didn’t threaten Rinaldi’s life, but suggested that they take their argument out of the House floor. Rinaldi said that he told Nevàrez he would “shoot him in self-defence” if Nevàrez acted on the perceived threat.
Meanwhile one representative suggested Rinaldi made threats first.
“There was a threat made from Representative Rinaldi to put a bullet in one of my colleagues’ heads,” Rep. Justin Rodriguez said at a news conference held shortly after the scuffle. “That kind of threatening language, he needs to be called out and held accountable for.” Lawmakers said the threat had been made towards Nevarez.
Here’s a video of the altercation:
Democrats seized on Rinaldi’s action as a prime example of why the bill was dangerous.
“Matt Rinaldi looked into the gallery and saw Hispanic people and automatically assumed they were undocumented, state Rep. Ramon Romero of Fort Worth told the Tribune. “He racially profiled every single person that was in the gallery today. He created the scenario that so many of us fear.”
VIDEO: Lawmakers in Texas House scuffle during #SINEDIE on Monday.
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