Dangerous, top-secret, motivational tweeting DPS doesn't want you to know they followed
In the most anticipated installment of #poopgate, the Texas Department of Public Safety released documents requested through a Public Information Request related to those final, controversial days at the State Capitol leading to the passage of HB 2. Unsurprisingly, out of the 144 pages provided by Texas DPS, you won't find very much.
Most of the pages reveal DPS staff sending around the same batch of rumors, Tweets, and Facebook posts about actions leading up and during the last day of HB 2. And despite month-long posturing, the DPS still failed to provide any evidence in their documents proving the existence of the jars of human excrement.
In a text sent out on July 14th from DPS Director Steve McCraw states “I'm tired of reading we made this stuff up. Let's get the photos we have to members of the media. Does anyone realistically believe we would fabricate evidence to support a political agenda. Amazing.”
Amazing indeed, for weeks McCraw has stated DPS had evidence, but in the documents, no officer steps forward claiming they encountered the jars of human waste. From the biased information revealed and outlandish rumors absorbed as truths in the information released by the DPS, it seems pretty clear that yes, absolutely, #poopgate was a distraction from the the Department of Public Safety's terrible decision in their invasion of privacy and forced disposal of feminine hygiene products during HB 2.
Read more on the documents below the jump.Despite the build-up and confidence on behalf of the DPS Director Steve McCraw to provide photographic evidence, the only pictures revealed in these records were of three bricks, a bottle of acrylic paint, and a small jar. Yet still somehow the public is supposed to believe that while DPS officers have pictures of a small pile of bricks and a paint bottle, that they would simply overlook the reported 19 containers of human waste.
While the McCraw assures his officers can provide pictures of human waste in their handling, Jose Ortiz mentions in an email that Troopers were not directed to take photos “because the items were not seized or confiscated by DPS.” The fact officers cannot clarify what they did or did not handle and what they did or did not have pictures of proves to make a hard case in verifying the existence of these 19 jars.
However, it is clear they are quick to push any and all blame to some of the organizers and activists who were actually working to ease the Senate entry process. In another email, staffer Jordan James claims that “2 orange shirts were asking people for their food and drinks because you were not allowed to take it in…and people were handing it over,” making the assumption that “They may be planning to use the food and drinks to trash the place.”
One text mentions a wrench being found and that “anyone carrying paint or weapons such as the wrench we found needs to be taken to 3E4 for an interview with Lt. Esquivel,” which shows that action was being taken concerning items found. However, while there is a picture of a paint bottle, there is no report of any action being taken, or any interviews with Lt. Esquivel conducted concerning this paint bottle, or any other items.
Overall, the tweets and posts circulated through the records are a nonthreatening batch- the most severe threats come from anti-choice rumors of pro-choice actions. However, instead of taking into account these claims might be somewhat biased, DPS circulates the tweets as hard evidence nonetheless.
A selection of tweets from people using the #stand4life hashtag make claims about pro-choice people stripping naked, while others claim they will throw paint. Apparently, despite the scattered and inconsistent rumors thrown about the Twitterverse, this is enough for Susan Fafrak, the DPS Intelligence and Counter-terrorism Analyst to throw it all together sending out to officers:
“…rumors are out there saying that the orange women will be taking off their clothes, urinating, and defecating in the Senate gallery today.”
The few referenced posts of paint and menstrual blood that could be interpreted as “serious” are inconsistent and lack real intention of follow-through to be all that threatening. Even the tweets by those mocking the anti-choice rumors of topless body-painted pseudo raves are used for “evidence.” Apparently for these staffers, pro-choice “tactics” are created not through meetings and strategy, but by patching together whatever shocking words or phrases you find on a Twitter feed.
One of the tweets circulated the most is one that quotes Senator Wendy Davis:
@RayBeckerman: Davis closes pro-choice rally with call to “Rock the Boat.”
While we don't know for sure, based off this information, it's worth wondering considering the mass circulation of this tweet whether or not Jonathan Stickland's tweet about arming himself against Capitol-goers was taken as seriously.
The emails also include detailed reports of Rise Up Texas meetings, sharing links of related livestreams, and overhead pictures surveying the meetings, revealing that there were concentrated monitoring efforts on specific groups of people. However, even with extended efforts to monitor targeted groups, officers decide one of their most reliable informants is Abby Johnson, an anti-choicer who makes a living spreading lies and making false reports about Planned Parenthood. One can sense the bias in trusting this information in an email from Gerardo Gonzalez as he shares information from Abby Johnson's Facebook page (now deleted but still in the document), commenting that she has “changed her views” on abortion and mentions she is more politely called a “Prolife Advocate,” as opposed to “activist” or “protestor.”
The post they reference is full of what Johnson does best- rally her supporters through fear-mongering, stating “Both Planned Parenthood and NARAL are no longer encouraging their supporters to be civil and courteous,” a statement that lacks any supporting information, and insists pro-choice activists plan on being “physically aggressive.” She cites her resources from an apparently exclusive network of Austin abortion-clinic workers (hard to believe considering she's hardly been a friend to abortion clinics in the past several years).
Relying on this kind of information from people like Abby Johnson for your insight into the “inner-workings” of pro-choice activism is like citing poorly-written Wikipedia articles for your college research paper: you're going to be wrong, and you're going to fail.
According to the Texas Observer, DPS has no more information to provide. The evidence DPS revealed shows yet again the lack of preparedness at the Capitol this summer, as well as a utilization of an extreme range of tactics- going from monitoring several individuals for several days extremely close, to making wide assumptions of entire masses from biased channels with open range. So much for intelligence: after much resistance from the DPS, sidestepping from Director McCraw, 144 pages worth of documents full of assumptions and bias and poopgate comes to a close with still zero questions answered.