New Braunfels City Manager: Trump Train Broke No Laws When It Swarmed Biden Bus
New Braunfels City Manager Robert Camareno said the New Braunfels Trump Train did not break any laws when at least a dozen of its members pulled onto I-35 around Solms Road on Friday and surrounded a Biden Bus carrying several prominent Texas Democratic candidates to campaign rallies in Central Texas.
Biden campaign organizers were so shaken by the swarm of cars swerving around the bus, and by reports that members of the Trump Train were armed, they canceled a series of campaign rallies planned for Friday as part of a “Battle for the Soul of the Nation.”
According to several Facebook posts, members of the Trump Train mistakenly assumed U.S. vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris was on board. Her campaign stops on Friday did not include San Antonio, where the Biden Bus began its journey up I-35 north, headed towards Austin.
Camareno said New Braunfels Police Department (NBPD) received several calls that members of the Trump Train were following the Biden/Harris campaign bus as it drove through the city.
“NBPD officers responded and did not observe any traffic violations,” he said in an email to MyCanyonLake.com. “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.”
However, the Texas Tribune reported late today that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the incident and said according to an anonymous source, NBPD “responded to requests for assistance and provided an escort throughout their jurisdiction. During that time, the person said, the group of Trump supporters fell back behind the police.”
New Braunfels dismissed similar concerns in the past, after residents complained that the Trump Train caravan of hundreds of flag-festooned trucks and cars was clogging city streets and that its members were harassing people of color and anyone with a Harris/Biden sign in their front yards.
In early September, Bishop Michael Franklin, president of the New Braunfels MLK Association, asked the city for support after a member of the 400-vehicle Trump Train dragged a Black Lives Matter flag underneath his truck during a Sept. 3 procession.
New Braunfels Mayor Rusty Brockman issued a statement defending constitutional rights of free speech and assembly, but promised the city would not turn a blind eye to issues that make residents feel threatened or afraid.
He said police would treat weekly Trump Train events like any other demonstration or protest by providing a secure presence.
New Braunfels Trump Train started out small over the summer but quickly grew under the command of Steve Ceh, a boiler mechanic at Brandt Companies who moved to the New Braunfels area from Nevada three years ago.
The Trump Train is a family affair for the Cehs, who also conduct weekly prayer vigils in New Braunfels’ Landa Park. Wife Randi runs the group’s closed Facebook page, which in early September had 3,400 followers. Their five children range in age from 17 to 26 and also support the Trump Train through Instagram and YouTube.
The Trump Train “rolls” through the City of New Braunfels every Thursday night with as many as 650 vehicles and 1,100 people in attendance, according to the group’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. There are several routes, one of which winds right in front of Gruene Hall, a world-famous music mecca.
The Trump Train attracted controversy again in October after 15 of its members charged into an antique store in historic Gruene, boasting on Facebook that they roamed around the store maskless, scaring clerks into calling the police.
NBPD said it did not respond to this incident because developers who own Gruene, a tourist town located within city limits, hire off-duty law enforcement to provide security for the thousands of people who visit annually.
Ceh said in an interview in early September that Trump Trainers are no longer afraid of what the public thinks about their activities.
“I think the media has put a fear on people, and nobody wanted to come out,” he said. “They were fearful for Antifa, Black Lives Matter and just plain Marxists coming out and physically intimidating them. Some people are in fear that they’ll ruin their cars, they’ll throw something at their cars.”
Ceh added he enjoys a good relationship with the NBPD, which he said keeps a watchful eye out for trouble.
Also, he said the Trump Train is protected by the Three Percenters, a far-right militia movement and paramilitary group.