The protesters were apparently chanting and waving signs against Senate Bill 4, the controversial Texas legislation that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed into law this month. It bans sanctuary cities, allows police to question anyone they detain about their immigration status, and compels local officials to comply with federal requests to detain individuals in state and local law enforcement facilities. The law was passed amid a national conversation about immigration enforcement priorities and promises from the Trump administration to aggressively pursue and deport undocumented immigrants.
Signing SB4 into law was seen as a big victory for Texas Republicans, who had tried unsuccessfully to pass a ban on sanctuary cities in each legislative session since 2011. Texas Democrats reacted to the bill’s passage with alarm; one lawmaker went on a hunger strike.
Video of the scuffle shows lawmakers pushing one another, yelling and gesticulating. Later, Democrats said, Rinaldi repeatedly got in their faces and cursed at them.