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Texas Republican House Rep. Matt Rinaldi called hundreds of peaceful protesters at the Austin state capitol today a “disgrace” and said he’d called immigration authorities on them, according to multiple sources. “Fuck them,” he said. “I called ICE.”
He also reportedly threatened to “put a bullet in one of his colleague’s heads”. When Democratic Rep. Cesar Blanco told Rinaldi that Italian immigrants are “just like us”, Rinaldi responded, “Yeah, but we love our country.”
Rinaldi’s hatred and extremism ironically demonstrates the racial profiling and discrimination inherent in Texas’ SB 4 law. Texas’ Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has claimed that Latinos who aren’t undocumented immigrants won’t have to worry about SB 4. But as Rep. Ramon Romero said today of Rinaldi: “He saw a bunch of people who look Latino, and he assumed they’re undocumented. So how can he say SB 4 won’t lead to racial profiling?”
Others questioned why Rinaldi resorted to calling law enforcement agents against those he disagreed with politically. Rinaldi has been in the Texas House since 2015 and only won reelection in 2016 by a 51-49 margin.
More than a thousand advocates gathered today at the Texas state Capitol in Austin to protest SB 4, Texas’ draconian anti-immigrant bill, on the legislature’s last day of session. The Texas legislature only meets once every two years, and will not reconvene again until 2019 unless they call a special session.
There were banner drops, chanting, dancing, and singing, with a full-out concert happening outside the steps of the Capitol for advocates who hadn’t been let in due to crowd restrictions. The weekend of action actually started at 3 am Sunday, as 50 protesters met in front of the governor’s mansion to blare mariachi music through a megaphone for about an hour, holding signs that read “no bedtime for bigots,” “goodnight SB 4” and “you’ve disturbed our peace, so we’re disturbing yours.”
Organizers of today’s event included United We Dream, the Texas Workers Defense Project, the Texas Organizing Project, SEIU, and Indivisible. Demonstrators came to Austin from Dallas, Houston, and other major cities in Texas, as well as Arizona, New Mexico, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC.
View some of the amazing photos from today’s demonstration here or below: