Ted Cruz zeroes in on Antifa as Texas reaches 7,000 coronavirus deaths

by | Aug 4, 2020 | Politics, Protests

Sen. Ted Cruz has been busy touting his most recent legislation, the RECLAIM Act.

The bill allows business owners to hold state and local officials liable for the destruction of property inside “law enforcement free zones.”

Cruz is referring to the six city blocks once occupied by protestors in Seattle last month shortly after police forces deployed tear gas and flash bangs on protesters, escalating the demonstrations and leading to the protest camp à la Occupy Wallstreet style. 

In addition to allowing business owners to sue state and local officials for damages, the legislation would allow the U.S. attorney general to reduce the federal funding that law enforcement agencies receive if they consider the response to the protest camps a failure. 

On Tuesday, Cruz is chairing a hearing over the “organized terror attacks.” He will surely bring up the bill he introduced last month. 

The vague definition in the bill for what that “failure to protect” looks like, or what a “law enforcement free zone” is should be ringing alarm bells for anyone concerned about basic democratic rights — things Cruz purports to defend against the so-called evils of big government. 

Nevertheless, the bill itself is redundant; residents and business owners are already suing the city. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is already facing questions from both left and right, including calls for resignation over the city’s handling of the protest zone, where one teenager was fatally shot. In other words, the handiwork of Cruz’s bill is being done so organically, and locally, because after all, it is a local phenomenon. There are no similar protest camps anywhere else in the U.S.; an attempt to set up a similar camp in Portland last month was removed by police after one day.

The short-lived story of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone is attention-grabbing, which is also why Cruz and Trump, who sought to designate Antifa as a terrorist organization, are so captivated by it. It’s the perfect Republican story-telling device to sell, scare really, voters into believing GOP promises of law and order. After all, Cruz rode his initial Senate bid to victory over his establishment GOP opponent at the helm of the culture war-driven Tea Party movement and has sought to fan the flames of his base ever since.

While Cruz introduces a bill in Congress to take back Portland — the name of his op-ed in the Wallstreet Journal pitching the bill — Texas is reeling from the pandemic. A little more than 7,000 Texans have died from the virus so far. 

The growing number has made a lacking impression on the Texas senator, who has focused his far-reaching bully pulpit on China and Antifa in recent weeks. For example, in a recent appearance on a Washington TV news station, he spoke at length about Chinese espionage, but when asked what comes next for Texas and the pandemic, he gave a two-minute boilerplate answer about using common sense that did little for the millions of Texans that have filed for unemployment relief. 

A congressional response to help Texans is desperately needed too. The deadline for federal unemployment benefits has passed and the number of Texans losing their jobs continues to grow

It’s unlikely Cruz will issue criticism of Texas’ handling of the virus since the buck stops with members of his own party, namely Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott, but it’s hard to imagine how any other issue could demand more of his attention. 

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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