Patriotism the last refuge of a scoundrel.
Or is it private property?
Lest you start to believe the senior senator from Texas, John Cornyn, is a more reasonable man than cold-blooded Ted Cruz, allow us to share the stories of Houston constituents visiting Cornyn’s office on Tuesday, January 24th.
Earlier in the month, a group of about 25 constituents visited Senator Cornyn’s Houston district office and met with an accommodating staffer to share their concerns about the new administration’s slash and burn approach to governing.
Yesterday, as Senator Cruz’s Houston district staff locked down their office and left for the day while Houston Police Department officers escorted constituents from the building, three-and-a-half miles to the west, a group of about fifty constituents was attempting to visit Senator Cornyn, anticipating a warmer welcome than their peers down the road.
Recognizing that the staff has seemed overwhelmed by a large group the week before, an organizer suggested the majority wait outside while small groups went up to the office.
The first delegation of five entered—and, as far as anyone remaining outside reported, that was the only delegation to go inside. No more visits happened. UPDATE: Since publication, BOR has learned that three other smaller groups (i.e. not the whole crowd) were seen by the senator’s Regional Area Director. We appreciate the correction.
Asked by a police officer to leave the private property, constituents moved to the public sidewalk along Memorial Drive. Many held signs recycled from the prior Saturday’s marches, while some had messages expressing their disapproval of President Trump’s cabinet nominees.
Later in the afternoon, after the visitors-turned-demonstrators left, the building’s landlord posted a sign addressed to “Political Action Group Members, Demonstrators; Protestors; Reporters, or Videographers,” notifying them that as the multi-tenant commercial building is private property, “no individual or group is allowed to demonstrate or conduct organized or un-organized protest” on site. The sign noted that the parking garage and surface parking lot also fall under this prohibition, and noted that if a car belonged to anyone except a client or customer with an appointment or direct business with the building’s customers, they would tow.
The notice concluded:
If you are a protestor, demonstrator, reporter, or videographer reading this document, you are on private property and are requested to leave immediately and proceed to the public property area described herein. Thank you for your attention and compliance. -Building Management
Elected representatives are under no obligation to locate district offices in publicly-accessible spaces, but the First Amendment reads in full:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
If Texas senators refuse to return phone calls or schedule appointments, and cope with constituents by locking their doors and calling the police, they should expect that people will continue to peaceably assemble to exercise their right to petition for a redress of grievances.
Texans are not ready to give up on the democratic process just yet.