Thanks to a Texas Public Information Act request, the state Department of Public Safety has released almost 150 pages of their evidence and discussion about alleged plans that “orange shirts” had for being disruptive at the capitol during debate over anti-choice legislation, including bringing in jars of feces and urine.
What counts as evidence would be laughable if the DPS weren’t a state agency that holds real power over the rest of us.
The source for most of the rumors about what pro-choice activists were doing seems to be a professional anti-Planned Parenthood activist (professional as in she gets paid to travel around the country and speak about why she quit her job at PP) who, in my opinion, might well bear some responsibility for trying to incite violence against clinic workers.
Others whose tweets are quoted as DPS officers help build the case are credible sources like @GodblessTX (a.k.a. Ted Cruz’s finance director) and @SteveWorks4U (Congressman Steve Stockman).
I was at the capitol for many of the all-nighters. I witnessed, time and time again, volunteers and staffers from various pro-choice agencies working hard to keep crowds informed about the rules and help them work within them.
No food or beverages were allowed in the House and Senate galleries, so volunteers were patrolling the line to take food and drinks from people about to enter. Someone at DPS, on p. 19, glosses this as “they may be planning to use the food and drinks to trash the place.” Trust me, I was there. If it was edible, it got eaten. No one was planning a food fight.
There are, around p. 130, photos of paint and bricks. These things were confiscated. The system worked. That’s how it should be.
Over and over again, however, the social media evidence DPS is using to make their case are thinks like the tweets on p. 94, where people who are clearly anti-choice are alleging that they know what the “pro-aborts” are going to do. Or, as on p.138, posts from people who are clearly both out of state and known activists with a taste for the theatrical, like Zsuzanna Budapest. An activist in California weighing in on a FB post is hardly proof that people on the ground in Texas are planning mass chaos.
Stupid. Stupid and scary. There are also notations like:
- A conversation about whether or not it is legal to go topless in Austin, and how that might play out at the capitol. (p. 100)
- A sarcastic tweet about the bricks & paint – someone jokes hey, when did this turn into a naked rave?
- A notation of a civil disobedience training being held, and plans for a voter registration drive announced. (p.110)
- A notation that pro-choicers were joking that the satellite dish was a DPS toy.
We’re allowed to talk about the laws. We’re even allowed to joke about them, and we’re really allowed to joke about satellite dishes and the surveillance state. We’re allowed to train for nonviolent civil disobedience. And, despite the best effort of some regressive, racist Texas lawmakers, we’re allowed both to vote and to register others to vote. That things like this are being noted in a security service’s documents makes me rather anxious.
People will believe what they want to believe. I was there, and I know what I saw and didn’t see. It never made sense to me, for example, that anyone would try to smuggle in excrement, when you could “smuggle” it in inside of your body, safe from detection, and prepare it for throwing once you were safely inside the capitol.
After these documents were released yesterday, I saw a hilarious tweet from someone who was at the capitol and actually cited in the evidence:
I started to RT it, then paused. Would I be tracked because I was RT’ing someone on the DPS radar? I mean, I kind of assume I’m already being tracked, since I haven’t been exactly private with my view on these matters, but it gave me pause nonetheless. That makes me angry at myself, and sad that DPS, for a moment, had a chilling effect on my exercise of free speech. So, I just RT’ed it.
Time for new leadership for our state, and for DPS.
[I will add, as I’ve mentioned before, that the DPS officers I encountered in the capitol complex were, to a person, kind, considerate, and willing to accept cookies and pizza from me when I offered them.]