FORT WORTH, Texas — On Friday, as vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris visited Fort Worth, her bus tour stopped near the Miller Avenue Government Center in the east side of town — an early voting polling place.
U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey attended the event, where he said Trump supporters were driving trucks up and down the street honking their horns, yelling at people entering the early-voting site, and slowing traffic on the Poly neighborhood thoroughfare.
“I was shocked that they did that,” he said during a phone interview. “This is the busiest predominantly African-American early voting site in all of Tarrant County. The fact that they were parading up and down there while people were waiting in line to vote and jeering at them and honking their horns with the flags, it was very representative of the type of things you used to see in the old South — except people would have the Confederate flags flying from their trucks. This time it was the Trump flags.”
Veasey characterized the actions of those cruising trucks as voter intimidation and suppression, motivated by fear of the coming blue wave.
“It was 100% voter suppression and voter intimidation,” he said. “There's no question about that in my mind. I think that voter intimidation that you saw yesterday was about them trying to hold on to their last large urban county in Texas [that Trump carried in 2016].”
A North Texas couple that created a Facebook event called A Warm Texas Welcome…Trump Style said in a Facebook video that the only reason the trucks were trolling Miller Avenue was because of the presence of Harris, and they were not there to intimidate voters.
“We’re not there to disrupt your community,” said Kate Medina, who organized the Facebook event. “We’re not there to throw white people in your face. Our group isn’t just white people. We're of all colors and all religions, but, unfortunately, the world we live in, we're not allowed to express those freedoms of expression and speech.”
Her husband acknowledged the presence of militiamen near the polling place but said they were only there to make sure people could vote.
“The reason why they would come out is literally to make sure that people can vote properly at the poll booth, which is what we are all are supposed to be doing,” he said. “Nobody's supposed to be against that or prevent somebody from voting. They said somebody walked off the line yesterday because they were intimidated by the people that were out there. That, we don't want.
The couple canceled a caravan scheduled to confront Harris over safety concerns.
A few hours after Harris’ visit to the Miller Center is when the now-infamous incident in which vehicles flying Trump flags surrounded a Biden tour bus headed south on Interstate-35 lit up social media feeds around the country. Harris was not on board when truck-driving supporters of the president allegedly made contact with the Biden bus and side-swiped another vehicle, knocking it off the road, according to multiple media reports.
The FBI has acknowledged that federal authorities are reviewing the incident, even as President Donald Trump on Monday began his last day of campaigning falsely claiming the inquiry did not exist.
Echoing a tweet he issued Sunday about the incident, Trump also claimed that his supporters "did nothing wrong.”
"But the ANTIFA Anarchists, Rioters and Looters, who have caused so much harm and destruction in Democrat run cities, are being seriously looked at," Trump said.
In a video posted on Wednesday, Donald Trump Jr. encouraged fans of his father to give Sen. Kamala Harris a "Trump Train welcome" two days before the cars with MAGA signs swarmed the Biden campaign bus.
Biden campaigners canceled events for security reasons, including an event in Pflugerville, just 17 miles north of Austin. Another event in Austin proper was canceled as well.
Vehicles with Trump flags halted traffic on Sunday on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey and jammed the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge between Tarrytown and Nyack, N.Y. Another pro-Trump convoy in Virginia ended in a tense shouting match with protesters as it approached a statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond.
In Louisville, Ky., about 100 Trump Train drivers clashed with protesters at a high school on Sunday before caravanning to the Kentucky Exposition Center for a rally. Around Indianapolis, Trump supporters circled I-465 counterclockwise.
While the FBI declined to publicly elaborate on their investigation, Georgetown Law's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection notes that voter intimidation is a crime under federal law and under every state’s laws, which applies equally to voter intimidation conducted from vehicles.
Its Voter Protection Program document states that examples of voter intimidation may include:
- Tailgating other vehicles
- Brandishing or intimidating display of firearms
- Swerving aggressively towards pedestrians or other vehicles
- Disrupting voting lines or blocking entrances
- Aggressively revving engines as voters pass
- Aggressively approaching voters’ cars or writing down license plate numbers
- Verbal threats of violence
- Blocking roads to the polls
- Following voters to, from, or within polling places
- Confronting voters while wearing military-style or official-looking uniforms