“Trump Train” participants accused of harassing a Biden campaign bus on a Texas highway last year are now being sued.
The Texas Civil Rights Project, a Left-leaning nonprofit group advocating for social justice; Protect Democracy, a nonprofit group aimed at preventing the rise of totalitarianism in the United States; and law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP filed a pair of lawsuits with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas against the drivers in the pro-Trump convoy and law enforcement officials “who turned a blind eye to the attack — despite pleas for help — and failed to provide the bus a police escort.”
“We filed this lawsuit because everyone should be able to engage in peaceful political activity free from fear, intimidation, or threats of violence,” said state Sen. Wendy Davis, a plaintiff on board the Biden bus during the incident.
The plaintiffs seek a court order declaring the incident a violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, a law that empowered the president to suspend the writ of habeas corpus to combat the KKK and other white supremacy organizations.
Days before the 2020 presidential election, videos emerged showing a “Trump Train,” a group of motorists driving vehicles with Trump flags, surrounding a campaign bus for now-President Joe Biden with their vehicles, slowing the bus down to about 20 mph in the middle of a highway. Neither Biden nor now-Vice President Kamala Harris were on the bus that day.
“FBI San Antonio is aware of the incident and investigating. No further information available at this time,” a spokesman for the FBI said at the time in a brief statement to CNN.
No injuries were reported in the incident that Cameron Kistler, counsel at Protect Democracy, called “an egregious example of using fear, intimidation, and threats of violence to silence political foes.”
“Those who engage in organized threats — whether they’re online death threats or mob violence — are breaking the law and will be called to account for their actions in federal court,” added Michael Gottlieb, a partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.
The defendants named in the first case are Eliazar Cisneros, Hannah Ceh, Joelynn Mesaros, Robert Mesaros, Dolores Park, and John and Jane Does. The law enforcement officials, whom the filing alleges “abdicated their responsibility” to “protect and serve,” are named as Chase Stapp and Richard and Rachel Roes.
San Marcos, Texas, law enforcement officials and employees are being sued in the second suit.
“The Klan Act also includes provisions making it illegal for law enforcement to negligently fail to take steps to prevent an impending conspiracy to engage in political violence when they have knowledge of it,” the plaintiffs said in their press release.
“Due to pending litigation, the City of San Marcos, the San Marcos Police Department, and Director of Public Safety Chase Stapp will not have a comment,” San Marcos spokeswoman Kristy Stark said, according to CNN.
Former President Donald Trump appeared to celebrate the incident, tweeting a video of the encounter accompanied by the words, “I LOVE TEXAS!”
He later referenced the incident at a campaign rally, saying the vehicles were “protecting [Biden’s] bus yesterday because they’re nice.”