Arrestee Talks About Capitol Officers During Filibuster

A woman in the Senate gallery pushes back against a police officer and is later arrested during the last hour of the Senate session on June 25, 2013.
A woman in the Senate gallery pushes back against a police officer and is later arrested during the last hour of the Senate session on June 25, 2013.

Despite liberal bloggers' criticism of officers who arrested her Tuesday night at the Capitol during the Senate debate over abortion legislation, 74-year-old Martha Northington said the Texas Department of Public Safety troopers overall were not too rough.

Northington, one of three people who were arrested that night, said DPS officers did not overstep their bounds, adding that they “in general have a hard time doing their duty.”

“In general, the people I watched were fairly gentle,” she said.

Northington said an officer pulled her out of her seat in the gallery soon after spectators erupted in reaction to a statement made by state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio. She said he twisted her arm, despite her offers to leave with him.

Northington, whose charges were reduced from a felony to a Class A and Class C misdemeanor, said she was encouraging others in the gallery to be quiet during the proceedings before an officer removed and handcuffed her. Upon arriving at the jail, she said, a nurse sent her to the hospital to receive pain medication for her arm. She then spent the night in jail, leaving shortly after noon on Wednesday.

Another woman was arrested for public intoxication, and one man was arrested for disorderly conduct, DPS spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger wrote in an email to the Texas Tribune.

In response to criticism, Cesinger wrote in a statement that troopers only took “actions they deemed appropriate” when responding to protesters that night.

Our DPS troopers work every day to ensure that all visitors and staff at the Texas Capitol remain safe and that order is maintained,” Cesinger wrote. “It’s unfortunate that some find it is easy to pass judgment on the officers who are risking their lives every day to protect and serve Texas.”

 

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.