The Slatest

Texas City Refused Requests to Escort Biden Bus Surrounded by Aggressive Trump Supporters

Pink light illuminates the side of a campaign bus before a drive-in election eve rally on November 2, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Pink light illuminates the side of a campaign bus before a drive-in election eve rally on November 2, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mark Makela/Getty Images

Remember that incident in Texas close to the end of the presidential campaign in 2020 when aggressive supporters of then-President Donald Trump appeared to try to run a Biden campaign bus off the road? Trump loved the shocking images that came out that day, and cheered his supporters. “I LOVE TEXAS!” Trump wrote on Twitter as he retweeted a video of the incident. Another group of people who seemed to find the whole thing rather amusing was the police in the Central Texas city of San Marcos, which refused repeated requests to escort the bus, according to court documents.

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An amended lawsuit filed over the incident that took place in late October 2020, when polls suggested there was a tight race between Biden and Trump in Texas, includes transcriptions of 911 calls that show how police in the city repeatedly refused to provide an escort for the bus. Instead of helping the people on the bus who felt threatened, the lawsuit claims, San Marcos police officers “privately laughed and joked about the victims and their distress, including by calling them ‘tards,’ making fun of a campaign staffer’s ‘hard’ breathing, and retorting they should just ‘drive defensively’ or ‘leave the train’.”

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The bus was traveling to San Marcos for an event that the Democratic campaign ended up canceling amid concerns over safety as what was known as a “Trump Train” surrounded the bus. Even though police departments in other Texas cities had escorted the bus under similar circumstances, San Marcos refused to do the same. “No, we’re not going to do it,” Matthew Daenzer, a San Marcos police corporal on duty the day of the incident, told a 911 dispatcher. “We will ‘close patrol’ that, but we’re not going to escort a bus.” When the dispatcher told a bus passenger that there would be no escort but to call back if he felt threatened, the Biden staffer seemingly couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Are you kidding me, ma’am?” the staffer said. “They’ve threatened my life on multiple occasions with vehicular collision.”

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It wasn’t just people on the bus asking for help, witnesses also called police to warn there was reckless driving going on. “Despite these multiple calls for help from Plaintiffs and others, for the roughly 30 minutes it took to drive through San Marcos on the main highway that runs through it, there were no officers from San Marcos or any other police cars in sight–not on the I-35 exit or entrance ramps, nor on either side of the highway,” according to the filing. The plaintiffs accuse the city’s law enforcement officers of violating the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 because they were aware of “acts of violent political intimidation” and did nothing to stop them.

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