Well, it’s true. There’s never a dull moment at the Texas Legislature. The House and Senate were going about their regular end-of-session business on Wednesday when loud screams could be heard coming from the rotunda. Outside the chambers, a group of mostly men and a few women were screaming, “Cri-mi-nal! Cri-mi-nal!” and “Treason! Treason!”
It didn’t take long for reporters to locate the ringleader: Alex Jones, the controversial radio host and filmmaker who describes himself as a staunch constitutionalist. He is also a supporter of the 9/11 truther movement, which has accused the government of orchestrating the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. So who's his beef with now? The federal Transportation Security Administration — and the Texas Senate.
"Every one of [those senators] is an enemy of the Republic and the Republic of Texas!" he bellowed.
On Tuesday night, the Senate pulled down the so-called TSA “groping” bill. HB 1937 would have allowed Texas to criminalize “invasive” airport security searches by federal TSA agents if they “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” touched the anus, breasts or genitals of travelers. The bill was expected to pass until the U.S. Department of Justice intervened and sent a letter to the state threatening to cancel flights and close airports statewide if the legislation became law. In response, several senators dropped their support.
Jones stormed the Capitol after he said he spontaneously told his radio listeners it was time to confront lawmakers for “caving” to the federal government’s demands. Dozens showed up. The gathering had the feel of a revival, with Jones standing at the top of the steps outside the Senate gallery, his voice booming as beads of sweat ran down his face. The group had earlier been spotted on the House side, but their anger was mostly directed toward the 31 members of the upper chamber.
“There’s out-of-control feds violating federal and state law, sticking their hands down people’s pants,” Jones shouted. “They think you’re so busy watching Oprah and American Idol that they can have a federal national security force molesting children. Next is the forced inoculations and the federal blood draws. It’s all laid out. It’s a battle plan and nobody’s safe!”
His comments drew cheers from a crowd that included dozens of excited supporters who held up signs that read, “Go Away TSA” and “Don’t cower to tyrants.”
Jones accused the state government of "letting a bunch of minimum-wage people ... grope little girls!" He promised more protests in the future, saying, “Next time we come back, we’re gonna come back with 50,000 people!”
As the group followed Jones through the Capitol to deliver their message to individual senators, protesters appeared to be wandering a bit aimlessly, unsure of where they were going or who exactly they were looking for. But Jones remained resolute: “We’re going to save the Republic!”