Texas Politics

Did Dan Patrick get duped by a Denton teen during a recent stop in Tarrant County?

Critics of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick might say he was “Punk’d” during a recent visit to Tarrant County.

That’s because Patrick was captured on video touting a painting to a GOP crowd and he didn’t appear to notice messaging that is not part of the Republican political platform: “Abolish ICE” and “Impeach Trump.”

The phrases are hidden in plain sight although written in reverse. They are part of a painting by Caleb Brock, a high school senior at Denton Guyer High School, who is also a self-described political activist.

Now, pictures and video of Patrick and the painting are circulating on social media.

Brock’s mission on Monday was to bring attention to the family separations of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“They are people and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” Brock told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Brock said when he learned that Patrick was coming to an event in nearby North Richland Hills, he decided to take his message to the elected official. He charmed his way into a NE Tarrant Tea Party event that urged — on its website — that patriots attend, but not the press.

However, once the event started, media was allowed and Brock’s friend, Serlesi Olguin, took video and pictures at the meeting.

The NE Tarrant Tea Party is based in Grapevine, but it held the event in North Richland Hills.

Brock said he decided to take a more creative approach to protesting by telling organizers he was “a huge fan” of Patrick’s and he wanted to give him a painting.

When Patrick came in, Brock was ready. “He was shaking hands and hugging people,” Brock said, explaining that his painting was covered with a GOP flag when he gave it to Patrick.

Patrick took the gift and introduced Brock to the crowd, saying: “He brought me a painting ... I want to show you this.”

Alejandro Garcia, Patrick’s spokesman, responded to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s request for a reaction via email.

“Lt. Gov. Patrick meets many young people in his travels around Texas, virtually all of whom are honest. It’s unfortunate this young man’s presentation was duplicitous, but this will not affect the lieutenant governor’s trust in the people he meets across the state going forward — particularly young Texans,” Garcia said in the email.

Julie McCarty, president of the NE Tarrant Tea Party, said the youth resorted to political trickery.

“You wanna know why he had to trick people to get his message out? Because even Nancy Pelosi admitted Trump would not be impeached,” McCarty said in an email.

McCarty’s comment alluded to news reports that Pelosi said impeachment would be too divisive.

Brock said he wanted to send his message to Patrick because he has supported President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

The high school senior, who plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin, said many people will criticize his tactics, but he believes in taking a stand. He also wants to inspire other young people to speak out against policies they believe are “evil” or unfair.

“We hold the power, and we need to force change,” he said in an email. “There are policies in place to systematically disenfranchise and disadvantage people of color. There are people being detained for seeking a better life.”

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