The Texas Department of Public Safety has finally released documents, requested by various media outlets, regarding claims by DPS officials, politicians and religious-right activists that demonstrators brought jars of feces and urine to the Capitol in July to protest extreme anti-abortion legislation. The Texas Observer reports:
What the documents show is that DPS collected and shared information, including rumors and off-hand Twitter remarks as well as Facebook postings, about pro-choice protesters during the showdown in the Senate in July. “Per Lt. Esquivel, rumors are out there saying that the orange women will be taking off their clothes, urinating and defecating in the Senate gallery today,” wrote Susan Fafrak, an analyst in the Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division of the Texas Fusion Center, in an email on Friday, July 12. “I am still searching form [sic] some sort of confirmation of this.”
Based on the documents released by DPS today, their hottest sources of intel are tweets from pro-life activists orRepublican legislative staffers, or pro-choice protesters joking about the rumors’ absurdity. The documents suggest a law enforcement agency joining in the echo chamber….
The documents also demonstrate that DPS director Steve McCraw was upset about press coverage questioning the lack of evidence that protesters had tried to bring jars of feces and urine into the Senate. Internally, DPS was able to find just three photos of prohibited items—apparently of paint and bricks—but none of those suspected jars.
Text messages also circulated among DPS personnel on July 15th, three days after the explosive end to the debate over new abortion restrictions. “Were any of you aware of urine or feces take during our shakedowns?” asked a text message from an unknown sender.
The responses: “Just what DPS put out on Email” and “I never observed any.” And, “I was inside the Senate Gallery and did not see or hear of any of the above being taken.”
So after weeks of smears directed at pro-choice activists, we see that there is no evidence at all that anyone brought jars of human waste to the Capitol. Moreover, out of the thousands of activists at the Capitol — both for and against the anti-abortion bill — it appears that a handful of people brought several bricks and a can of paint. (The Austin American-Statesman article at that link is behind a paywall.) And who brought those few items (which DPS officers were absolutely right to confiscate)? No one knows.
We now know, however, that DPS and other law enforcement officers were listening a lot to religious-right activists making wild and unsubstantiated claims. And those claims were meant to discredit the thousands of concerned citizens who went to the Capitol to protest — peacefully — yet another attack on women’s health care services in Texas.