A lawsuit claimed San Marcos police failed to do their job when a group of former President Donald Trump supporters surrounded a Biden campaign bus on I-35.
In this FOX 7 Focus, FOX 7 Austin's John Krinjak spoke with David Gins, one of the staffers who was on that bus, as well as Christina Beeler, an attorney for the plaintiffs, about what that confrontation was like and the message they hope the settlement sends.
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JOHN KRINJAK: Talk to us a little bit about this settlement. What are the details of the settlement and what led up to it?
CHRISTINA BEELER: So in this case, law enforcement turned a blind eye to a mob, a caravan of Trump supporters that surrounded the Biden-Harris bus on October 30th, 2020, on I-35. And this settlement holds them accountable for that. In settling this case, the San Marcus Police Department has admitted to falling short of its own policing standards, and they've agreed to institute mandatory training for their law enforcement officers and to compensate the victims financially that they failed to protect.
JOHN KRINJAK: And David, as someone who worked on the campaign, what was the impact of all of this as when it happened? And what do you hope is the impact of this settlement for future campaigns?
DAVID GINS: So the impact in the moment was traumatizing for me, for the other plaintiffs, the heroic bus driver, Wendy Davis, who was running for office who was on the bus, the campaign volunteers who were driving and were worried for their lives as these Trump caravan cars were weaving in and out of traffic and driving very recklessly. It was extremely scary to be going on the highway for about an hour and a half with not a single law enforcement officer in the city of San Marcos showing up. And clearly in the other jurisdictions, when police did show up, the caravan pulled back and it was a much safer environment. We hope, my hope is that this does have an impact moving forward and all future elections.
JOHN KRINJAK: So anything else you guys were looking at about how we arrived here? I mean, it's been two years of litigation, right? Three years since this all happened.
CHRISTINA BEELER: So the one thing I would want viewers to know is that this Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 makes it illegal for law enforcement and others with the power to do so to fail to protect voters who face threats, intimidation or violence because of their political advocacy. And if law enforcement violates the Klan Act, like we think happened here, they risk not only legal exposure, but also financial and reputational consequences as well.
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JOHN KRINJAK: With now former President Trump running again, are you concerned that something like this could happen again that would require such a response?
DAVID GINS: I certainly have concern that this could happen again. And I think that was the point of this lawsuit, was to ensure that other campaign workers and volunteers don't have to fear for their life as they're campaigning for their candidate for office. I certainly hope that everyone feels safe when going out to vote, when going out to exercise their right to support a candidate of their choosing. Violence is not an acceptable extension of political discourse, and I hope that everybody remembers that moving into the next election and elections after that. And for cities, city managers, and police departments, we hope that this shows that you are expected to uphold the law in your jurisdiction, regardless of your political beliefs.
JOHN KRINJAK: A San Marcos city manager said in a statement, "While the city continues to deny many of the allegations in the suit, the police response did not reflect the department's high standards for conduct and attention to duty. As such, the city elected to work together with the claimants to reach a resolution. A review of this event has better positioned the department to more fully meet the community's needs and expectations."
FOX 7 Austin did reach out to the city and San Marcos police, but they have not responded to requests for an interview.