New documents from the Texas Department of Public Safety show how Troopers responded during one of the most controversial protests of the Legislative session. It involves claims that Pro-Choice protesters tried to smuggle in human waste during the big abortion debate in the state Senate.
A spokesperson for DPS Tuesday said the agency still stands by the claim that protestors tried to bring human waste into the Senate chamber back in July. But according to the documents released by DPS no one took any of the items as evidence or took pictures of the offending items to back up the claim.
At the state Capitol Tuesday, warning signs were put up after a brief shower made the south steps a little slippery. A little more than a month ago, there were different signs up as the Capitol was packed with Pro-Choice supporters protesting new legislation to restrict abortions. The battle made national and international news. Murray Smith, who is from the U.K. and is currently in Austin on vacation, remembers the coverage. When compared to what else was going on at the time in the world, Murray doesn't consider the summer tussle in Texas as being very shocking.
"There is so much rioting in Europe just now over austerity cuts I think people understand people are getting frustrated and rioting and things like that," said Smith.
Back in July, under the Capitol dome emotions reached a boiling point and extra State Troopers and law enforcement officers were brought in to keep the situation contained. Initially Troopers were ridiculed for confiscating feminine hygiene products from people who were trying to get into the Senate. But when DPS issued a statement that Troopers also prevented human waste from also being smuggled in, there were those who thought the agency was lying.
In response to the criticism and to several open records request DPS provided nearly 150 pages of e-mails, news releases and social media postings in response to the criticism. Administrators at DPS were hoping to silence critics by producing hard photographic proof that security personnel prevented suspected human waste from getting into the Senate chamber during the July abortion debate.
About four images were included in the documents. There were pictures of a few bricks found in the Capitol extension, some paint, a bottle with unknown contents, as well as shots of what appears to be a planning session by protesters. But the pictures are not the smoking gun, DPS Director Steve McCraw was looking for.
In an earlier memo McCraw wrote, "I'm tired of reading that we made this stuff up. Let's get the photos we have to members (of the Legislature) and the media. Does anyone realistically believe we would fabricate evidence to support a political agenda? Amazing."
In response to Director McCraw's request it was explained. At the time, the focus was on crowd control. No official photos were taken because the questionable items were not seized or confiscated. They only had to be trashed in order to get into the Senate gallery. But not all of the protest props went to waste- some of the feminine hygiene products were used during a gathering in the capitol rotunda.
The documents also provide insight into how social media tipped off DPS. Security analysts at the fusion center were following tweets that encouraged throwing blood and paint on lawmakers as well as suggestions of people taking their clothes off during the debate.