Many Texans spent Monday solemnly remembering all those Americans who gave their lives on the battlefield for the cause of freedom.
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.
A sizable crowd gathered on Monday to protest Senate Bill 4, the state’s new sanctuary cities law.
The ugly scene unfolded after Rinaldi told some Democratic legislators that he had called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to deal with protesters in the gallery.
According to Rinaldi and others present, some of the protestors were chanting, “We are illegal and we are here to stay.”
That incited Rinaldi to call ICE and report his action to Democrats who were applauding the protests.
Then all hell broke loose.
Video footage of the floor shows a scrum of lawmakers yelling and pushing each other like kids in a schoolyard.
Rinaldi claims he was threatened and physically assaulted by several of the legislators involved, but his account is in dispute.
Rep. Ramon Romero, D-Fort Worth, said it was Rinaldi who threatened physical violence.
According to Romero, Rinaldi swore and spat on his colleagues.
In an interview on WBAP/820 AM, Romero denied assaulting Rinaldi. Romero said many of the 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.
Department of Public Safety officers eventually cleared the balcony to restore order. Romero complimented their professionalism in managing the incident.
It’s hard to know exactly how the fracas started, who said what to whom and who pushed whom first.
But one thing is for sure.
Whatever the protesters yelled or whatever their signs said doesn’t really matter.
They were there exercising a freedom to speak out, and attempts to silence them were unwarranted and unbecoming of a Texas official.