New Braunfels Trump Train Members Face Charges for Trying to Run Biden Bus Off I-35
At least six members of the New Braunfels Trump Train face two federal lawsuits for their part in attempting to run a Biden campaign bus off of I-35 on Oct. 30, 2020, the Texas Tribune reported today.
Dozens of vehicles flying Trump flags swarmed the ‘Biden Bus,’ trying to box it in as it traveled between San Antonio and Austin as part of a “Battle for the Soul of the Nation” presidential campaign.
Members of the New Braunfels Trump Train believed then-vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris was aboard.
But former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis was on the bus, campaigning against incumbent Republican Chip Roy for the 21st Congressional District. With her were campaign staffer David Gins, now deputy director for operations for Harris, and bus driver Timothy Holloway. Volunteer Eric Cervini was traveling ahead of the bus and was already at a scheduled campaign stop in San Marcos as the event unfolded.
They joined her today in filing a federal lawsuit — Cervini v. Cisneros — which alleges members of the Trump Train violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 as well as Texas law by organizing “a politically motivated conspiracy to disrupt the campaign and intimidate its supporters.”
Named in Cervini v. Cisneros as defendants are Trump Train members Eliazar Cisneros (with the Alamo City Trump Train), Hannah Ceh, Joeylynn Mesaros, Robert Mesaros, Dolores Park, and John and Jane Does.
Plaintiffs are asking for compensatory and punitive damages and for defendants to pay legal fees incurred by the two lawsuits. They also say the incident caused psychological and emotional injury.
In a press conference, Holloway said he can no longer drive a bus.
According to the Texas Tribune, New Braunfels Trump Train founders Steve and Randi Ceh also are named in the filing, which meticulously documents local, state and national events leading up to the actual ambush. It is not clear if they are the John and Jane Does listed as defendants.
Another Trump Train organizer, Jason Frank, is mentioned in the filing but not specifically named as a defendant.
A second complaint — Cervini v. Stapp — also was filed today against San Marcos law-enforcement officials “who turned a blind eye to the attack — despite pleas for help — and failed to provide the bus a police escort,” according to Protect Democracy, a civil rights organization involved in the litigation.
“Plaintiffs intended to spend that October day — the last day of early voting for the presidential election in Texas — campaigning at various political events across the state of Texas, including a campaign event at Texas State University in San Marcos,” according to the lawsuit.
“Instead, Plaintiffs found themselves as targets of a conspiracy to ambush the Biden-Harris Campaign’s tour bus on a stretch of Interstate 35 and intimidate them for their work supporting and advocating for a presidential candidate. When they turned to law enforcement to protect them, Plaintiffs were failed by the very officials charged with upholding both their safety and their foundational democratic rights.”
The lawsuit alleges the Trump Train pursued and terrorized those on the Biden Bus for at least 90 minutes while calls to law enforcement went unanswered.
Chase Stapp is San Marcos’ director of Public Safety. Defendants Richard and/or Rachel Roes Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are identified as individuals who are unknown to plaintiffs but are known to be police officers or employees of the City of San Marcos Police Department or the San Marcos City Marshal’s Department.
New Braunfels Police Department, which escorted the Trump Train as it drove through the city, is not named in the lawsuit, according to city spokesperson Dave Ferguson.
A video shared on Facebook last year by Randi Ceh shows Trump Train trucks and cars closing in on the Biden Bus as it drives through New Braunfels. It is unclear precisely where or when members of Trump Train joined the convoy, but the video appears to have been taken around the Solms Road Exit 183.
In a statement, Protect Democracy said plaintiffs requested a court order declaring the convoy ambush a violation of the Klan Act, which also includes provisions making it illegal for law enforcement to negligently fail to take steps to prevent an impending conspiracy to engage in political violence when they have knowledge of it.
Click here to read the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas today. Click here to read an overview by Protect Democracy, which joined forces with the Texas Civil Rights Project and Wilkie Farr & Gallagher LLP to file two lawsuits “in order to help deter voter intimidation and political violence in future elections.”
Click here to see a timeline of messages shared between New Braunfels Trump Train members involved in the Oct. 30 incident. It was created by Living Blue in Comal County, a progressive Facebook and Twitter group, which follows Trump Train activity on social media.
On Oct. 31, 2020, New Braunfels City Manager Robert Camareno told MyCanyonLake.com that New Braunfels Police Department received several phone calls that members of the Trump Train were following the Biden/Harris campaign bus as it drove through the city, en route to Hays County, but did not find anything amiss when officers investigated.
“NBPD officers responded and did not observe any traffic violations,” he said in an email. “Additionally, there were no traffic accidents reported in conjunction with this activity inside the New Braunfels city limits. NBPD officers continued to monitor the procession as it made its way north to the New Braunfels city limits and the next jurisdictions were notified about the activity that was headed in their direction.”