The campaign workers who were terrorized by members of a “Trump train” of drivers who chased down a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris campaign caravan on a Texas
highway last year are suing the drivers in federal court.
One complaint accuses Trump supporters
of violating the anti-Ku Klux Klan Act, which protects voters
from intimidation, while a second accuses the San Marcos Police
Department of failing to protect the campaign bus and the cars accompanying it to campaign events in Texas, “despite repeated calls for help,” according to the suit.
The Western District of Texas received both complaints on Thursday.
“We filed this lawsuit
because everyone should be able to engage in peaceful political activity without fear, intimidation, or threats of violence,” former Texas Democratic
state Sen. Wendy Davis, who was on the campaign bus when it was swarmed, said in a statement about the lawsuit against members of the Trump train.
The plaintiffs are being represented by the nonprofit advocacy organization Protect Democracy
, the Texas Civil Rights
Project, and the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher. They include Davis, as well as Harris' White House
director of operations, David Gins, former Biden campaign volunteer Eric Cervini, and Biden campaign bus driver Timothy Holloway.
UPDATE: Several passengers on a Biden campaign bus that was ambushed by a 'Trump Train' last year have filed lawsuits in connection with the incident. Read more: https://t.co/Atv0ybm3m6
pic.twitter.com/VVAzuDStpE — NowThis (@nowthisnews) June 24, 2021
Last October, a swarm of Donald Trump supporters swarmed the Biden-Harris bus as it sped down busy Interstate 35 near Austin
, Texas, with one truck filmed bumping a nearby Biden campaign car out of its lane. Some in the vehicle “displayed weapons,” while others “screamed death
threats,” according to the lawsuit.
As a result of safety concerns, the Biden-Harris campaign canceled events in Austin and San Marcos.
According to the suit filed against the Trump train members, Trump supporters “terrorized and threatened the driver and passengers on the Biden-Harris Campaign’s bus” for at least 90 minutes.
“They played a wild game of highway ‘chicken,’ coming within three to four inches of the bus and attempting to run it off the road,” the lawsuit continued.
The lawsuit seeks a court ruling that the Trump supporters' actions violated the anti-KKK Act, which Congress
passed in 1871 to prohibit the coordinated intimidation of voters in order to obstruct free and fair elections
“What Defendants cannot do under the law is use force, intimidation, or threats against those with whom they disagree politically, yet that is precisely what Defendants did by conspiring to use their vehicles as weapons to interfere with the constitutional rights of those who supported the Biden-Harris Campaign,” according to the lawsuit.
“The guarantee of free speech
, association, and assembly in the Constitution is meaningless if those rights cannot be freely exercised; and where groups are allowed to terrorize those with whom they disagree into giving up their constitutional rights, the functioning of our democracy demands accountability.”
Donald Trump Jr
. inspired Trump supporters to form a "Trump Train" to "give Kamala Harris a nice Trump Train welcome," telling them "to have a good time." Donald Trump Jr.
helped inspire this terrorism. pic.twitter.com/CSsnWOH4ht — Resist Programming (@RzstProgramming) November 1, 2020
Last year, a smirking Donald Trump Jr. encouraged his father's Texas supporters to "give Kamala Harris a nice Trump train welcome," adding, "Have some fun."
Following the reckless stunt, then-President Donald Trump exclaimed, "I LOVE TEXAS!" and referred to the Trump train drivers as "patriots," boasting that the confrontation was trending on Twitter.
Protect Democracy counsel Cameron Kistler described the “mob of Trump supporters engaging in a preplanned vehicular assault
” as an “egregious example of using fear, intimidation, and threats of violence to silence political foes, exactly the type of behavior that the Klan Act was enacted to deter.”
The Trump train lawsuit named five defendants, including a Jane and John Doe, who could not be reached for comment.
After the confrontation, one of the drivers in the suit, Eliazar Cisnernos, boasted on Facebook
that he was responsible for bumping the campaign car out of the lane: “That was me slamming that fucker... hell yea,” he yelled in a since-deleted message.
Cisneros also shared Trump's "I LOVE TEXAS!" tweet.
Anyway, here's the link: https://t.co/rQtGo34vIZ#EliazarCisneros
pic.twitter.com/lYBJSAldYl — Ryan Graney (@RyanEGraney) November 1, 2020
The black Ford F-150 pickup that collided with Biden's campaign car appears to be the same one Cisneros drove through a crowd of Black Lives Matter
protesters in San Antonio
earlier this year.
The suit also accuses the Trump train drivers of civil assault, threatening the plaintiffs with "imminent bodily injury
" by engaging in "aggressive, dangerous, and reckless driving
that puts Plaintiffs and others on I-35 in physical
For the highway altercation, none of the drivers have been charged with a crime
According to the lawsuit, some of the same people
who planned the Trump train chase were in Washington
on the day of the Jan. 6 insurgency and rioted in the Capitol
According to the suit, Texas law enforcement officials told Biden campaign workers on the bus who desperately called for help that they would not take action unless criminal charges were filed.
Multiple videos show local authorities ignoring apparent serious moving
violations, such as Trump train vehicles following other vehicles too closely on a highway, swerving directly in front of the bus, and slamming into another lane at full speed.
“Defendants had every opportunity to discharge their duty under federal law and come to Plaintiffs’ aid, but they did not,” the complaint against San Marcos police officers stated. “For Defendants — located in areas that have witnessed political terror of the type Congress sought to prevent under the Klan Act — this failure to exercise reasonable care is a betrayal of the very laws they swore to uphold,” the complaint against San Marcos police officials stated.
San Marcos does not comment on legal matters.
into the Trump train chase is still ongoing.