Biden backers sue ‘Trump train’ members accused of harassing campaign bus in Texas
Passengers on a Biden campaign bus that was allegedly harassed by Trump supporters while driving through Texas last year filed two lawsuits Thursday, one against individual members of the so-called Trump Train they say tried to run them off the road and another against law enforcement members who plaintiffs allege turned a blind eye to the incident.
The lawsuits were filed by nonprofit groups Protect Democracy and The Texas Civil Rights Project along with the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP on behalf of Timothy Holloway, the driver of the Biden bus that day in October; Biden campaign volunteer Eric Cervini; Biden campaign staffer David Gins; and former Democratic Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis.
The Biden campaign canceled an event in October of last year after it said a caravan of Trump supporters surrounded its bus, attempted to force it to stop in the middle of the highway and tried to run it off the road.
This is a traffic violation and attempted homicide. Why hasn’t anyone been arrested? pic.twitter.com/QnfF4vXMQn
— melissa “cancel student debt” byrne (@mcbyrne) October 31, 2020
Former President Trump later appeared to express his support for the drivers’ actions, sharing a video of the incident on his now-deleted Twitter account and writing, “I LOVE TEXAS!”
The suit states that the plaintiffs have suffered “ongoing psychological and emotional injury” due to the incident.
The individuals named as part of the Trump Train that surrounded the Biden bus include: Eliazar Cisneros, Hannah Ceh, Joeylynn Mesaros, Robert Mesaros and other unnamed defendants.
The defendants, all residents of Texas, were identified through photos of their license plates as well as their own proclamations on social media of having participated in the incident. Cisneros is accused of striking one of the vehicles that was escorting the Biden-Harris campaign bus.
The suit accuses the individuals of violating the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 which states “if two or more persons conspire to prevent by force, intimidation, or threat, any citizen who is lawfully entitled to vote” from supporting the election of a president, vice president or member of Congress, they will be liable “for all damages.”
During a press conference Thursday, Holloway, the driver of the bus who is Black, said the Oct. 30 incident was “just like what happened in the old days, when they ran colored people out of the town.”
“It’s an old-school voter intimidation that they — they was trying to run us out of town, and guess what, they did and it worked. The rest of the tour was canceled. I didn’t even want to stay in Texas,” he added.
Holloway said he has not driven a bus since the day of the incident.
Gins, the director of state operations for Texas for the Biden-Harris Campaign, said during the press conference that at one point during the ordeal, he walked to the back of the bus and “completely broke down crying thinking that our lives were in danger.”
Gins added that he stopped participating in campaign events following the Texas incident.
“No one should have to undergo a traumatic experience because they’re participating in our electoral process. This is America, we have a right to engage in peaceful political discourse,” Gins said.
John Paredes, the counsel for Protect Democracy, said the suit is “not about the money,” but rather seeks accountability, though he did say they would be seeking “compensatory damages” for the injuries the plaintiffs suffered as well as possible attorney fees.
Though those aboard the bus called various law enforcement departments multiple times while traveling, the second lawsuit accuses the San Marcos Police Department of abdicating their responsibility as other departments were able to provide protection.
The suit alleges San Marcos Director of Public Safety Chase Stapp declined to take steps to prevent “violent political intimidation,” despite receiving 24 hours notice beforehand and receiving phone calls when the incident occurred.
One official at the department, according to the lawsuit, told one of the campaigners of the bus, “We don’t know if the bus is in our jurisdiction,” and refused to send officers to help because they were not “reporting a crime.”
The plaintiffs have requested a trial by jury for both cases.
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