Davis and the other plaintiffs say that the “Trump Train” protesters violated the federal Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
Former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis has filed a lawsuit against members of a so-called “Trump Train,” which surrounded and followed then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign bus on a Texas highway.
According to The Texas Tribune, Davis—along with other occupants of the bus—have named at least seven separate defendants. Collectively, they claim that the “Trump Train’s” misconduct breached the federal Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 by organizing “a politically-motivated conspiracy to disrupt the campaign and intimidate its supporters.”
The Klan act, notes the Tribune, prevents groups from obstructing or attempting to obstruct free and fair federal elections by intimidating or injuring voters, or attempting to disrupt people’s right to engage in political speech.
The complaint alleges that Trump Train participates violated the law by following the Biden bus, shouting death threads at its occupants, streaming their activities on social media, and “bragging about their aggressive driving.”
A second lawsuit was filed against local law enforcement, who the plaintiffs claim “turned a blind eye to the attack—despite pleas for help—and failed to provide the bus a police escort.”
The second lawsuit, says the Tribune, names as defendants San Marcos Public Safety Director Chase Stapp, as well as the San Marcos Marshal’s Department.
Altogether, the plaintiffs are requesting compensatory and punitive damages, as well as recompense for their expected legal fees.
“What Defendants cannot do under the law is use force, intimidation, or threats against those with whom they disagree politically. Yet that is precisely what Defendants did by conspiring to use their vehicles as weapons to interfere with the constitutional rights of those who supported the Biden-Harris Campaign,” the “Trump Train” lawsuit states. “The Constitution’s guarantee of free speech, association, and assembly is empty if those rights cannot be freely exercised. And where groups are permitted to terrorize those with whom they disagree into forgoing their constitutional rights, the functioning of our democracy demands accountability.”
The second lawsuit alleges that the San Marcos Police Department repeatedly refused to assist the occupants of the Biden campaign bus, who reported that they were being targeted by enraged Trump supporters.
“They would not respond unless the Biden-Harris Campaign was ‘reporting a crime,’ explaining: ‘we can’t help you,’” the second suit asserts. “Despite being told the bus was driving through San Marcos, and despite the fact that Plaintiffs had already tried calling 911, an officer from the San Marcos City Marshal’s Department made similar excuses, saying: ‘we don’t know if the bus is in our jurisdiction’ and ‘call 911 if there’s a problem.”
Emma Hilbert, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project—which helped file the suit—equated the Trump Train’s harassment with the Klan’s cross burnings, saying that any sort of political intimidation is unacceptable.
“Whether you’re conspiring to harass a campaign bus on the highway or burning crosses in someone’s front yard, intimidation of any kind is illegal, and it has consequences,” Hilbert said.