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On Last Day Of Session, Tensions Rise At Texas Legislature

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez
KUT News
Large audiences gather for the Senate Committee on State Affairs' hearing for SB4, the so-called "sanctuary cities" bill in February 2017.

A heated exchange on the Texas House floor led one state lawmaker to threaten to shoot another in the head, on the last day of 85th legislative session.

The scuffle began with a protest by groups unhappy about the legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 4, the sanctuary cities law, which led DPS Troopers to escort the protesters out. 

Credit Ryan Poppe / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
Signs carried by protesters on the last day of session include "We won't let hate infect our state" and other sentiments against the so-called "sanctuary cities" law.

But on the floor, a different type of fight was happening between Republican members of the Freedom Caucus and Hispanic lawmakers.

Rep. Justin Rodriguez, a San Antonio Democrat, was one of the lawmakers involved in the scuffle.

“There is a Republican lawmaker who made a disparaging comment about the folks in gallery who are predominantly Hispanic, by the way, that he was going to be calling ICE on them,” Rodriguez said.

That comment was made by Rep. Matt Rinaldi, a Dallas-area Republican.

“They said some things to me, I said some things back to them.  Both of it was designed to incite each other, obviously, as sometimes happens in these passionate issues,” Rinaldi said.

Rep. Rinaldi's official statement via Facebook.


Rinaldi confirmed that he threatened to shoot Eagle Pass Democrat Pancho Nevarez related to the fight on the House floor.

"I kept my hands to my side, but yeah there was pushing and shoving,” Rinaldi said. 

After an hour, both sides calmed down and the House eventually adjourned to end the final day of the 85th legislative session. 

Video below by Nar Dorrycott, chief of staff for Rep. Ina Minjarez: 

The fight that broke out regarding #SB4 @TexasTribune #txlege @CesarJBlanco @MattRinaldiTX pic.twitter.com/pzmrkb8Nhp — Nar (@CapitolNar) May 29, 2017