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Biden Bus Passengers And Activists Sue 'Trump Train' For Intimidation On I-35

A truck repeatedly rams a white SUV after it crowded into the truck's lane. It's unclear which vehicle initiated contact, but the truck appears to purposefully maintain contact.
A truck repeatedly rams a white SUV after it crowded into the truck's lane. It's unclear which vehicle initiated contact, but the truck appears to purposefully maintain contact.

This story was originally published on Nov. 2, 2020 and was updated on June 24, 2021.

People on a Biden-Harris campaign bus last fall are suing members of a Trump Train caravan who surrounded the vehicle as it traveled on a central Texas interstate.

The federal lawsuit alleges the Trump Train members violated a law that bans groups from intimidating voters or preventing them from practicing political speech. The incident led to Democrats cancelling three events that day.

Bus driver Tim Holloway is one of the people now suing.

"They followed me, they followed me up the ramp. They got in front of me, they slowed me down. It was confusing and scary. Because I didn't know why they was there, or what they was trying to do," he said.

Holloway and three others, including former state Senator Wendy Davis, are also suing the public safety director of the City of San Marcos, Chase Stapp. The lawsuit alleges Stapp had notice of safety concerns and didn't adequately respond.

The City of San Marcos said it won't comment on pending litigation.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs say they want monetary damages, but also to prevent future political intimidation.

Eliazar Cisneros, who also drove through a crowd of protesters in San Antonio during September 2020, is listed as a defendant on the complaint according to CNN.

Previous reporting:

In the closing days of a deeply contentious election season, the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris campaign visited Texas, which according to NPR, has shifted from a dependably red state to a toss-up, giving Democrats hope that it could flip this year. Donald Trump Jr. released a video calling on his father's supporters from across Texas to “welcome” the campaign, and dozens of them answered the call. On Friday, a “Trump train” swarmed a Biden-Harris bus on I-35 in Central Texas, boxing in and tailing the bus for miles. Neither of the main-ticket candidates were on board, but as the Texas Tribune reported, congressional candidate Wendy Davis was.

At one point in a now-viral video, the driver of a white SUV attempts to closely tail the bus, but a black truck with a Trump flag rams it repeatedly after the SUV crowds into the truck’s lane. No injuries were reported.

Author and democratic activist Eric Cervini tweeted, “These tactics have no place in Texas, my home state, and no place in America.”

The FBI is investigating the incident, as is the San Marcos Police Department (SMPD). In a written statement, a spokesperson with SMPD said, “Available video footage makes it appears (sic) as though the at-fault vehicle may be the white SUV and the victim appears to be the black truck.”

In response to a follow-up question seeking clarification of their assessment, the spokesperson wrote, “Ultimately, the decision about who was at fault will be determined by the insurance companies representing the two involved drivers.”

According to posts on his since-deleted Facebook profile, the truck was driven by Eliazar Cisneros, who posted several videos from the day. In one, he said, “Here’s my truck,” while pointing the camera at the truck seen in the video. His truck was one of many in the parking lot, which featured rows of Trump 2020 flags flapping in the breeze while an erectile dysfunction commercial blared in the background.

This isn’t the first time Cisneros has been accused of using his truck as a tool for political intimidation. He didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment from Texas Public Radio.

In September, he drove through a crowd of protesters in downtown San Antonio, and then followed them as they continued their march, according to witnesses. At the time, he told KENS 5 that the protesters should have been on the sidewalk.

Community advocate Denise Hernández was part of the group. She said protesters frequently walk in the street and that most cars carefully drive around them. But, Hernández said, Cisneros waited at a red light before revving his engine, speeding towards her and the group before, slowing and swerving between her and other protesters at the last moment.

“We were all a little shaken,” she said. “And he actually came by and drove around and started yelling at us again, so he was antagonizing us on purpose.”

She said no one was physically injured.

“But for a lot of us, seeing him come up in the news again was really hard. It was really scary,” she said. “After that protest (in September), a couple of us broke down crying because it just — it's always been real. But it's just more real, I guess, to have a direct threat on your life like that. I don't know how to put it into words.”

At that September march, protesters called for defunding the SAPD budget and reallocating the funds to community needs.

SAPD did not respond to TPR’s questions about the September incident.

A public records search revealed previous criminal charges against Cisneros in Texas and Florida. Cisneros was arrested and charged for a DWI with blood alcohol content above 0.15% in September 2019. He’s still awaiting trial. In the ’90s, he was arrested and convicted for marijuana possession in Texas and placed on probation for driving with a suspended license in Florida after receiving multiple traffic tickets.

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Dominic Anthony Walsh can be reached at Dominic@TPR.org and on Twitter at @_DominicAnthony
Bret Jaspers is a reporter for KERA. His stories have aired nationally on the BBC, NPR’s newsmagazines, and APM’s Marketplace. He collaborated on the series Cash Flows, which won a 2020 Sigma Delta Chi award for Radio Investigative Reporting. He's a member of Actors' Equity, the professional stage actors union.