Civil rights organizations have filed two lawsuits in federal court against dozens of individuals for harassing and “ambushing” a Biden-Harris campaign bus in October. They are also suing the San Marcos Police Department, City Marshal’s Service, and the Director of Public Safety “who turned a blind eye to the attack.”
They are working with four individuals who were in or by the bus as named plaintiffs. One name plaintiff is Dr. Eric Cervini, an out historian and author of the book The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America, which was chosen as a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History.
With his last name coming first in alphabetical order among his co-plaintiffs, Cervini is the first name on all legal paperwork and the lawsuits are legally known as Cervini v. Cisneros and Cervini v. Stapps.
“Everyone on the campaign bus was doing what good citizens of any political party should do — engaging in the electoral process,” Cervini said in a statement. “The intimidation and harassment we experienced is unacceptable, and we want to make sure it doesn’t happen in future elections.”
The non-profit pro-democracy group Protect Democracy announced that they are bringing the lawsuit alongside the Texas Civil Rights Project and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. The four plaintiffs they are representing are Cervini, Wendy Davis, David Gins, and Timothy Holloway. Davis and Gins were passengers, Holloway was driving, and Cervini was driving alongside the bus.
“We filed this lawsuit because everyone should be able to engage in peaceful political activity free from fear, intimidation, or threats of violence,” Davis stated with the announcement.
The bus was traveling to Austin from San Antonio for a last-minute campaign stop on October 30, a week before the election concluded. The Biden-Harris campaign had hoped to sway voters in the Lone Star State after polling had showed that the ticket had better chances at winning the state in the election than previously believed.
The campaign bus, only carrying campaign staff and not the then-candidates, was then stopped outside of San Marcos, Texas, by a group of vehicles on Interstate 35. That led to a blockade by pro-Trump demonstrators and a confrontation “well beyond safe limits,” said Texas Rep. Sheryl Cole (D).
Cervini tweeted at the time, “These Trump supporters, many of whom were armed, surrounded the bus on the interstate and attempted to drive it off the road. They outnumbered police 50-1, and they ended up hitting a staffer’s car.”
He added, “The police refused to help. When I flagged down one officer, he said his hands were tied: ‘not my jurisdiction.’ He was wearing a blue stripe bandana.
“…As a historian who studied the rise of the Third Reich, I can tell you: this is how a democracy dies,” he said.
The Daily Beast reported that staffers saw the swarm of demonstrators (by car and truck) surround the bus and were either trying to prevent it from proceeding, or lead it off the road. The bus and accompanying vehicles were forced to park, and the pro-Trump demonstrators circled it with their cars, bullhorns, and signs. At least one collision occurred during the incident, which was captured on video.
The convoy of demonstrators eventually left, but the police made no arrests, and Texas Democrats and the Biden-Harris campaign cancelled multiple events that weekend.
Right before those events, the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., released a video encouraging Trump supporters in Texas to attend events that then-Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris was at.
“It’d be great if you guys would all get together, head down to McAllen and give Kamala Harris a nice Trump Train welcome,” he said.
Then-President Donald Trump retweeted video of part of the incident the day after and said, “I LOVE TEXAS!”
The state of Texas ended up giving its 38 electoral votes to Donald Trump, as the then-President took approximately 52 percent of the state’s popular vote, and Biden earned just under 47 percent.
Joe Biden would still win the presidential election without Texas, although Trump would not concede and instead attempted to overturn the election results. That culminated in a pro-Trump mob storming the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, in attempts to prevent certification of the election — although their efforts ultimately failed and the election was certified.