Senator John Cornyn, in the midst of a tough re-election fight against MJ Hegar, was caught on camera applauding the incendiary rhetoric of a local Republican club president, as well as the Sheriff of McLennan County.
In video of Cornyn’s bus tour stop in Waco obtained by Signal, the Senator is clearly seen standing just feet from Scott Salmon, president of the McLennan County Republican Club, and McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara as the two suggested that anyone from Black Lives Matter protesters to flag burners could be subjected to “ a long, slow ride,” to the County Jail.
For the thousands of people of color who have been forced to take that long, slow ride the implication was clear: dissent would be met with force.
The chilling threats from the chief law enforcement officer for a county of over 250,000 residents came as State Representative Doc Anderson and congressional candidate Pete Sessions stood among the electeds.
The video, obtained by Signal, begins with Salmon thanking the Sheriff for providing security before promptly saying “We’re not going to take any of that (Black Lives Matter) stuff or any of that other junk that goes on in other places.”
Salmon then emphatically points to Sheriff McNamara and says “We’ve got a man here who is gonna take ‘em right out, and as he says, if somebody does something like that, if a BLM protester comes to downtown Waco, it may not be very far to the jail but it’ll be a slow, long ride.”
McNamara then takes the mic and dives into a meandering and almost unhinged rant that touches on law and order before touching on the McCloskey family and closing with the Sheriff calling “liberal, low-life prosecutors,” a travesty. He then says “No matter what happens in this election we’re not gonna turn this county or Central Texas over to a bunch of scumbags,” as Pete Sessions emphatically cheers him on.
The Sheriff then admits “My wife has asked me not to say this, but I’m going to,” before saying that he knows “flag burning isn’t a crime…but I feel it is here in McLennan County.” He then says his deputies have been instructed to use the fire extinguishers in their cars to put out any flaming flags they encounter, but to make sure they douse these theoretical flag burners in white powder while doing it.
That’s when the Sheriff says the most chilling passage: “And then they’ll be arrested for disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment, anything we can figure out to charge them with. He will go down hard, and he will be given a slow ride to the jail, I can promise you that.”
Standing over McNamara’s right shoulder was Cornyn. In response to hearing a sworn Sheriff pledge to assault protestors and unlawfully charge flag burners with crimes, the former judge and Attorney General of the state of Texas claps.
The frightening rhetoric was deployed just one day after a caravan of Trump supporters used violent and aggressive tactics in an effort to drive a Biden campaign bus off the road, sideswiping a staff vehicle in the process.
In a statement to Signal, Billy Begala, spokesperson for the Texas Democratic Party’s Cornyn War Room said “This threatening rhetoric and proposed lawlessness has no place in Texas politics. Especially in the wake of the dangerous incident on I-35 involving the Biden campaign’s bus, our elected officials should be condemning the type of dangerous statements that were made in this video. Instead, John Cornyn stood back and applauded. He cares more about his reelection chances than he does the safety of Texans.”
Cornyn is locked in a tight race with MJ Hegar, a retired Air Force pilot who was wounded while flying combat missions to rescue American soldiers. With historic turnout across Texas, Hegar may be poised to topple Cornyn.
Election day is Tuesday, November 3rd. Go vote.
Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images