Former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign was forced to cancel a Friday campaign event in Austin, Texas, after a caravan of SUVs and pickup trucks seen flying “Trump 2020” flags chased and attempted to run a Biden-Harris campaign “off the road” near New Braunfels as it approached Austin from San Antonio.
As Biden campaign bus drove to Austin, it was quickly ambushed and surrounded by the caravan of pro-Trump demonstrators, leading to what one Texas House representative described as an escalation “well beyond safe limits.”
LGBTQ Historian Dr. Eric Cervini was driving to help with the Biden campaign stop when he filmed a line of pickup trucks sitting on the shoulder of the highway “waiting to ambush the Biden/Harris campaign bus as it traveled from San Antonio to Austin,” Cervini tweeted.
See all these pickup trucks with Trump flags? They were sitting along I-35, waiting to ambush the Biden/Harris campaign bus as it traveled from San Antonio to Austin. 2/
— Dr. Eric Cervini (@ericcervini) October 31, 2020
“These Trump supporters, many of whom were armed, surrounded the bus on the interstate and attempted to drive it off the road,” he alleged. “They outnumbered police 50-1, and they ended up hitting a staffer’s car.”
“The police refused to help,” Cervini tweeted. “When I flagged down one officer, he said his hands were tied: ‘not my jurisdiction.’ He was wearing a blue stripe bandana. Understandably, though nobody was hurt, the rest of the tour was canceled. And as a historian who studied the rise of the Third Reich, I can tell you: this is how a democracy dies.”
Cervini shared a photo of the purported damage to the staffer’s car caused by the pro-Trump caravan.
A Biden campaign staffer told The Daily Beast on Saturday that “Trump supporters surrounded the bus on the highway and slowed down in front of it, attempting to stop it or run it off the road.”
The official sent a photo taken on the bus, showing trucks flying pro-Trump flags surrounding the front of the vehicle.
Biden staffers on the bus called police, who helped escort the bus safely to its destination.
Video shot from a vehicle trailing the bus shows a Trump truck colliding with an SUV driven by a Biden staffer and appears to intentionally push the SUV out of the lane. The truck is then seen driving directly behind the bus.
This is a traffic violation and attempted homicide. Why hasn’t anyone been arrested? pic.twitter.com/QnfF4vXMQn
— haunting student debt owners (@mcbyrne) October 31, 2020
Footage shared by a CBS affiliate in Austin shows Trump supporters with signs and bullhorns surrounding the bus when it parked at its Austin campaign stop, with one person screaming that Biden was a communist.
— Jordan Bontke (@JBontkeCBS) October 30, 2020
Democratic Rep. Sheryl Cole announced that a Biden event in her city had been canceled due to the harassment.
“This is a 1st for me – but we just cancelled a joint event in Pflugerville w/ @JoeBiden campaign, @AustinYoungDems, & more, due to security reasons,” she tweeted. “Unfortunately, Pro-Trump Protestors have escalated well beyond safe limits. Sorry to all who looked forward to this fun event.”
Tariq Thowfeek, Biden campaign’s Texas communications director, said holding the event would have placed Biden staffers and supporters at risk.
“Rather than engage in productive conversation about the drastically different visions that Joe Biden and Donald Trump have for our country, Trump supporters in Texas today instead decided to put our staff, surrogates, supporters, and others in harm’s way,” Thowfeek told The Daily Beat.
“Our supporters will continue to organize their communities for Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Democrats up and down the ballot, and to the Texans who disrupted our events today: We’ll see you on November 3rd.”
“The Trump campaign—and often Trump himself—has encouraged in-person conflict around the polls,” The Daily Beast notes. “Trump used the first presidential debate to urge supporters to act as ‘poll watchers,’ a call that sparked concerns of voter intimidation. His son, Donald Trump Jr., made an explicit call-out regarding the Biden campaign’s Texas outreach efforts.”
In a video ahead of a Friday event by Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, Trump Jr. encouraged his father’s supporters to show up at Harris’s event.
“Hey Laredo, Don Jr. here,” he said. “I heard you had an awesome turnout for the Trump Train. It’d be great if you guys would all get together, head down to McAllen and give Kamala Harris a nice Trump Train welcome. Get out there, have some fun, enjoy it. Don’t forget to vote and bring all of your friends. Let’s show them how strong Texas still is as Trump country. Get out there, guys.”