Lawmaker doubts DPS report of jars of urine, feces at filibuster

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by STEVE STOLER and Associated Press reports

WFAA and Associated Press reports

Posted on August 27, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 27 at 7:07 PM

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Chants and cheers filled the inside of the State Capitol in June. Thousands rallied as lawmakers debated strict new abortion regulations.

Those protests carried over into the Special Sessions that followed, during which state troopers said they discovered one jar suspected of containing urine; 18 jars of feces; and three jars of paint.

All came from protesters who, troopers said, planned to throw those jars onto the Senate floor.

But now there are new questions about whether any of those jars were ever found in the first place.

The Texas Department of Public Safety released 144 pages of documents — including information gathered from tweets, e-mails, Facebook posts, and tips uncovered through their investigators. But in none of these documents was there ever a mention of bottles of urine or feces.

That's counter to a DPS statement issued the night of the July 12 debate and filibuster by State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth). That night, the DPS statement said 18 bottles were seized that were "suspected" of containing feces, while another bottle was confiscated that was "suspected" of containing urine.

"I don't doubt that somebody thought they saw something," said State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin). "But there's no evidence. There are a lot of inconsistencies."

The intelligence reports suggested protesters would attempt to disrupt the proceedings by throwing glitter in officers' eyes and cited rumors that women wearing orange would take off their clothes, and then urinate and defecate in the Senate gallery.

Howard sent DPS Director Steven McCraw a list of questions about what happened. McCraw responded that the "suspicious" jars were not confiscated. The names of visitors with the jars were not documented. And there is no official department report.

In an e-mail from McCraw to DPS officials, he wrote that he was "tired of reading that we made this stuff up" and appealed for any evidence to support the July 12 statement. McCraw emphasized in responses to media inquiries the DPS release said "suspected" of containing urine and feces, and that is said the items were "required to be discarded," so there was no proof of the claims after the fact.

The director said his officers were busy assisting hundreds of citizens seeking entrance into the Senate gallery.

"I would hope that there would be some clarification from that person or that person's supervisor, so we actually know there was really a person who saw something that was based on something," Rep. Howard said. "And we don't even have that."

State Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco) was on the Senate floor that night, too.

"I'm fully confident that they did confiscate either what appeared to be or really was human bodily waste," he said.

Fallon noted that DPS officers are apolitical, and did what they had to do.

"My colleagues were threatened," he said. "There were death threats. It's not a stretch to believe that certain people that are misguided would bring in human waste to the proceedings to disrupt them."

Officers did confiscate bricks and paint, the documents show, but no further evidence was provided in the documents regarding the claims of human waste.

DPS also received a tip that a group called Rise Up Texas was planning to block the entrance to the Senate, flood the chambers, and throw confetti. As a result, officers were on high alert, expecting anything.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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