A Fight Broke Out Among Texas Lawmakers On The House Floor

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On Monday afternoon, an actual fight broke out amongst Texas lawmakers in the state capital. It wasn't all that intense of a fight — it might be more accurate to call it a scuffle, or perhaps a skirmish — but legislators definitely got physical with each other on the state House floor, as evidenced by video of the confrontation. After the kerfuffle, a Democrat involved called one of his Republican colleagues "a liar and hateful man," who in turn threatened to shoot one the Democrat in question, so it's safe to say the wounds are still fresh on this one.

The episode was precipitated by hundreds of demonstrators, who arrived to protest a new law that ostensibly aims to crack down on "sanctuary cities" in the state; protesters argued that law was a draconian, "show me your papers"-type statute that would pave the way for racial discrimination by state officials. According to the Texas Tribune, Republican Rep. Matt Rinaldi then told a group of his Hispanic colleagues that he'd called Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) on the protesters, presumably in an attempt to have them deported.

An argument ensued, and pretty soon, Rinaldi and others started shoving each other on the House floor. In a statement, Rinaldi said that one of his Democratic colleagues, Rep. Poncho Nevárez, "threatened to kill me." Nevárez told the Tribune that he did put his hands on Rinaldi, but that he wasn't "going to shoot the guy."

After the incident, Renaldi wrote a Facebook post in which he claimed that Nevárez threatened his life during the scuffle, and "told me that he would 'get me on the way to my car.'"

"I made it clear that if he attempted to, in his word 'get me,' I would shoot him in self defense," Renaldi wrote. "I am currently under DPS protection." The Texas Tribune was unable to confirm this second claim, as the Department of Public Safety is on holiday for Memorial Day.

In a Twitter post, Nevárez denied Renaldi's allegation, and called him a "hateful man."

The law in question, which is set to take effect September 1st, aims to crack down on "sanctuary cities" in particular and undocumented immigrants in general. The law allows officials to question the immigration status of anybody they detain, as opposed to only those people they arrest, and punishes local authorities who refuse to cooperate with federal officials on immigration matters. Shortly after it was passed, the ACLU issued a travel advisory for Texas, warning that anybody traveling to the state should "anticipate the possible violation of their constitutional rights when stopped by law enforcement."