Protest, turmoil rock last day of Texas legislative session

Texas ended its contentious legislative session Monday as protesters packed into the state Capitol over a new ban on sanctuary cities, and lawmakers erupted into a heated argument with alleged death threats on the House floor.

The chaotic last day at the legislature marked a symbolic end to a polarizing session that had considered issues such as sanctuary cities, bathrooms used by transgender teens and religious objections.

One of the most heated debates during the session was around Senate Bill 4, which was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. The new law, which goes into effect in September, bans sanctuary cities and punishes local governments that don’t comply with immigration laws and detention requests.

On Monday, protesters filled into the Capitol, wearing red T-shirts, holding signs and chanting slogans, “SB4 has got to go!”

Republican Rep. Matt Rinaldi said in a Facebook post that he called Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the protesters, although ICE said that its officers “received no such call from local lawmakers.”

In retaliation, Rinaldi said he was “physically assaulted” by Rep. Ramon Romero and threatened by Rep. Poncho Nevarez, who called Rinaldi a liar on Twitter. Romero denied any assault happened.

It was a whirlwind last day of the 85th Texas Legislature, but there may be more this summer.

Abbott could call lawmakers back for a special session that could consider bills that didn’t pass, including a bathroom bill. The governor said he’d announce whether he’ll call a special session later this week, reported CNN affiliate KEYE.

Here’s a look at some of the most controversial Texas bills this session:

Senate Bill 4 on sanctuary cities

This new ban on sanctuary cities would levy fines up to $25,500 a day for local entities that violate the law. Sheriffs and police chiefs can be charged with misdemeanors for refusing to comply with federal detainer requests. Elected and appointed officials can be removed from office for violations of the law.

Supporters of this ban on sanctuary cities, including Abbott, touted the new law as “keeping dangerous criminals off our streets.”

Meanwhile, critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, slammed the measure as turning Texas into a “show me your papers state.”

The ACLU painted the law as giving “a green light to police officers in the state to investigate a person’s immigration status during a routine traffic stop, leading to widespread racial profiling, baseless scrutiny, and illegal arrests of citizens and non-citizens alike presumed to be ‘foreign’ based on how they look or sound.”

Outcome: Signed into law

House Bill 3859 on adoptions and religion

This bill would allow adoption agencies to turn away potential parents they find objectionable on religious grounds.

Opponents say the proposed law would allow faith-based agencies to discriminate against potential parents who are gay, single or of a religion that members of the adoption agency find objectionable.

The bill’s author insists it heads off any potential discrimination by mandating that alternatives be made available for potential parents who are rejected by faith-based providers.

Outcome: House and Senate approved the bill, which has been sent to the governor.

Senate Bill 8: Abortion restrictions

The bill requires fetal remains to be buried or cremated and bans donations of fetal tissue to medical research. It also prohibits certain types of abortions in the second trimester of pregnancy.

Democrats in the House tried to add exceptions for pregnancies resulting in rape, incest or life-threatening emergencies. CNN affiliate KEYE reported that those proposed amendments failed.

The controversial bill prompted protesters to take to the Capitol dressed as characters from “The Handmaid’s Tale” earlier this month.

Outcome: Passed House and Senate, sent to governor.

Senate Bill 6: ‘Bathroom bill’

This bill would require public high school students to use restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates.

A similar, but broader bathroom bill became law in North Carolina last year and brought condemnation from business leaders and athletic organizations. After numerous entertainers and sports associations canceled major events in the state, North Carolina lawmakers repealed the bill in March.

The Texas House hoped to avoid a similar backlash with its schools-only version, reported CNN affiliate TV station KTRK. Major corporations and groups already have voiced opposition to the bill.

Outcome: Passed Senate, but stalled.

Senate Bill 2095 on transgender students and sports

The stated focus of the bill is steroid use. But because gender confirmation often includes the use of steroids, critics say the true purpose of the bill is to discriminate and to keep transgender kids out of high school sports.

This year, a Texas teenage transgender boy, Mack Beggs, was allowed to wrestle only girls, because his birth certificate says he was female at birth. Some complained that the boy’s prescribed testosterone treatment gave him an unfair advantage over girls.

Outcome: Senate passed the bill, but the measure was left in House committee.

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Portland mayor asks feds to stop ‘alt-right’ rallies

The mayor of Portland, Oregon, is trying to stop what he describes as two upcoming “alt-right” demonstrations as his city continues to mourn the stabbing deaths of two residents who intervened in a possible hate crime.

Mayor Ted Wheeler on Monday called on the federal government to revoke the permit for a rally set for Sunday, and to deny permission for a second rally on June 10.

The two gatherings — backed by different organizers — are planned for a park on federal land, which gives federal authorities control over issuing permits.

“Our city is in mourning, our community’s anger is real, and the timing and subject of these events can only exacerbate an already difficult situation,” Wheeler posted on Facebook.

Two men suffered fatal stab wounds, and a third man was seriously injured, when they intervened in an incident on Friday on a Portland commuter train. Police said the men were trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs at two young women — one of whom was wearing a hijab — on the train.

The FBI is assisting Portland police, who are leading the investigation and are trying to determine whether Jeremy Joseph Christian, charged in the killings, could also be charged with federal hate crimes. The attacks occurred hours before the start of Ramadan, a month-long Muslim holy period of fasting, prayer and charity.

Wheeler said the city would not issue permits for the June 4 and June 10 rallies, according to a statement. But the federal government has already granted a permit for the June 4 rally, the mayor said. He urged the groups to cancel the rallies and asked their supporters to stay away.

“My main concern is that they are coming to peddle a message of hatred and of bigotry,” Wheeler told reporters, referring to organizers of the two rallies. “They have a First Amendment right to speak, but my pushback on that is that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Organizer: Suspect ‘has nothing to do with us’

CNN affiliate KATU said the “Trump Free Speech Rally Portland,” is scheduled for Sunday.

Joey Gibson is organizer of that rally. His Facebook page says the effort is “about fighting corruption and big government with the strength and power of love.”

Gibson told CNN Monday that the mayor “is using this as an opportunity to use these two dead people to silence us.” Gibson also distanced his group from the train-killings suspect, Christian.

Gibson said Christian showed up an April 29 free speech march he organized in Portland “with a bat yelling and screaming, cussing at people, using derogatory names.”

“Jeremy Christian has nothing to do with us. He hated us, he threatened me. We did everything we could to kick him out. We didn’t want him with us,” Gibson said.

In a video of the April free speech rally, Christian is seen shouting at people. At one point, Christian blurts a racial epithet, according to the video from reporter Doug Brown of The Portland Mercury.

Christian, 35, identifies himself in one of the videos, and he’s also seen carrying the baseball bat, which he handed over to officers who approached him.

Christian has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted murder, all felonies, in Friday’s attack aboard a Portland commuter train. The aggravated murder charges have the death penalty as a possible sentence. He faces several misdemeanors including two counts of second-degree intimidation.

Christian is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday, police said.

Police said Ricky John Best, 53, of Happy Valley, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, were killed in the attack.

The third man, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, suffered serious but non-life-threatening wounds, police said.

Earlier, in an interview with CNN, Wheeler called the three men heroes.

“Their actions were brave; they were selfless, and it could serve as an example and inspiration to all of us,” Wheeler said.

When asked if he identified with Wheeler’s “alt-right” description, Gibson said: “When someone can explain to me what alt-right means, I’ll answer it. I’m a libertarian. I’m not right wing, I’m for gay marriage, I’m against the drug wars.”

The so-called “alt-right,” is a far-right movement that has been linked to white nationalism, racism, misogyny and anti-Semitism.

ACLU: Government cannot shut down free speech

Gibson said he will not cancel the June 4 rally.

“If I cancel this rally and we don’t have a permit, you’re talking about hundreds of people just showing up in the park with no leadership, no voice of reason,” he said in a Facebook post.

The June 10 protest is called #MarchAgainstSharia, KATU reported.

The ACLU of Oregon, in a tweet on Monday, said: “The government cannot revoke or deny a permit based on the viewpoint of the demonstrators. Period.”

“We are all free to reject and protest ideas we don’t agree with. That is a core, fundamental freedom of the United States,” the ACLU said.

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Denver Post cuts ties with sportswriter over Indy 500 tweet

The Denver Post has cut ties with Terry Frei after the journalist tweeted that he was “very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend.”

Frei posted the comment on Sunday, after Takuma Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the race.

On Monday, the Post’s president and CEO Mac Tully and editor Lee Ann Colacioppo published a short statement apologizing for the “disrespectful and unacceptable tweet.” They added that Frei no longer works at the paper.

Frei had been at The Post for more than 20 years, according to the paper’s managing editor, Linda Shapley. According to his Post bio, Frei was named state’s sportswriter of the year four times in Colorado and three times in Oregon. He declined CNNMoney’s request for comment.

“The tweet doesn’t represent what we believe nor what we stand for,” Tully and Colacioppo said. “We hope you will accept our profound apologies.”

Frei has since deleted the tweet, which prompted an outcry, and issued an apology.

“I fouled up. I’m sorry,” Frei wrote. “I made a stupid reference, during an emotional weekend, to one of the nations that we fought in World War II — and, in this case, the specific one my father fought against.”

Frei apologized to the Denver Post and Sato in his statement. Frei is the author of a number of works of fiction and nonfiction, including a book about his father’s experience during World War II.

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Denver Post cuts ties with sportswriter over Indy 500 tweet

The Denver Post has cut ties with Terry Frei after the journalist tweeted that he was “very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend.”

Frei posted the comment on Sunday, after Takuma Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the race.

On Monday, the Post’s president and CEO Mac Tully and editor Lee Ann Colacioppo published a short statement apologizing for the “disrespectful and unacceptable tweet.” They added that Frei no longer works at the paper.

Frei had been at The Post for more than 20 years, according to the paper’s managing editor, Linda Shapley. According to his Post bio, Frei was named state’s sportswriter of the year four times in Colorado and three times in Oregon. He declined CNNMoney’s request for comment.

“The tweet doesn’t represent what we believe nor what we stand for,” Tully and Colacioppo said. “We hope you will accept our profound apologies.”

Frei has since deleted the tweet, which prompted an outcry, and issued an apology.

“I fouled up. I’m sorry,” Frei wrote. “I made a stupid reference, during an emotional weekend, to one of the nations that we fought in World War II — and, in this case, the specific one my father fought against.”

Frei apologized to the Denver Post and Sato in his statement. Frei is the author of a number of works of fiction and nonfiction, including a book about his father’s experience during World War II.

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Scuffle, threats erupt on Texas House floor

A heated argument erupted between legislators at the Texas Capitol Monday afternoon, after one state representative claimed he called US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on protesters.

On the last day of the legislature’s regular session, hundreds of protesters packed into the Capitol rotunda to protest Senate Bill 4, the sanctuary city legislation that was passed and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this month. The new law bans sanctuary cities and punishes local governments that don’t comply with immigration laws and detention requests.

Republican Rep. Matt Rinaldi said in a Facebook post that he called ICE on the protesters, some of whom he said were holding signs that read “I am illegal and here to stay.”

ICE said that “local enforcement and removal officers received no such call from local lawmakers.”

After Rinaldi told some Democratic representatives that he had called ICE, the Republican representative claimed that one legislator “physically assaulted” him and that another threatened him verbally. Rinaldi said he replied that he would shoot the Democrat in self defense.

“Today, Representative Poncho Nevarez threatened my life on the House floor after I called ICE on several illegal immigrants who held signs in the gallery … When I told the Democrats I called ICE, Representative Ramon Romero physically assaulted me, and other Democrats were held back by colleagues. During that time Poncho told me he would ‘get me on the way to my car.’ He later approached me and reiterated that “I had to leave at some point and he would get me,” Rinaldi wrote.

“I made it clear that if he attempted to, in his words, ‘get me,’ I would shoot him in self defense,” he added.

Romero said that he did not assault Rinaldi, and that he and other representatives were disgusted with Rinaldi’s actions.

“Matt Rinaldi looked into a House gallery full of Americans exercising their First Amendment rights against SB4 — Americans of all ages and ethnicities — and he saw only ‘illegals,'” Romero said in a statement.

“Let me be clear, this was a personal attack on me as a son of Mexican immigrants. I voiced my feelings. Countless members witnessed ‘the scuffle,’ and they will all tell you no assault occurred,” he said.

On Twitter, Nevarez called Rinaldi “a liar and a hateful man.”

“The guy made a very stupid comment. He’s a racist. He’s a bad person and we’re not going to allow people like that to get away with saying comments like that because they think nothing is going to happen to them,” he told CNN affiliate KXAN.

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