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Poopgate Update: DPS Releases Documents

by and Published on
The Capitol rotunda's ground floor full of state troopers
Patrick Michels
The Capitol rotunda's ground floor full of state troopers after the Senate passed sweeping new abortion restrictions last month.

Updated below at 4:50 pm:

Today, the Texas Department of Public Safety released 144 pages of documents—emails and text messages primarily—related to the ongoing #Poopgate controversy. DPS initially resisted attempts from the media and others to access the information under the Texas Public Information Act but later relented. DPS claims that this is the entirety of the relevant information. The agency has redacted some personal information.

You can read the documents here—chime in with whatever catches your eye in the comments.

What the documents show is that DPS collected and shared information, including rumors and off-hand Twitter remarks as well as Facebook postings, about pro-choice protesters during the showdown in the Senate in July. “Per Lt. Esquivel, rumors are out there saying that the orange women will be taking off their clothes, urinating and defecating in the Senate gallery today,” wrote Susan Fafrak, an analyst in the Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division of the Texas Fusion Center, in an email on Friday, July 12. “I am still searching form [sic] some sort of confirmation of this.”

Based on the documents released by DPS today, their hottest sources of intel are tweets from pro-life activists or Republican legislative staffers, or pro-choice protesters joking about the rumors’ absurdity. The documents suggest a law enforcement agency joining in the echo chamber. We’re waiting for a response from DPS on what advantage closely monitoring social media accounts provided the agency, and other questions.

Three bricks photographed by Texas DPS
Texas Department of Public Safety
A photo of bricks included in the Department of Public Safety’s Poopgate documents released monday.

The documents also demonstrate that DPS director Steve McCraw was upset about press coverage questioning the lack of evidence that protesters had tried to bring jars of feces and urine into the Senate. Internally, DPS was able to find just three photos of prohibited items—apparently of paint and bricks—but none of those suspected jars.

Text messages also circulated among DPS personnel on July 15th, three days after the explosive end to the debate over new abortion restrictions. “Were any of you aware of urine or feces take during our shakedowns?” asked a text message from an unknown sender.

The responses: “Just what DPS put out on Email” and “I never observed any.” And, “I was inside the Senate Gallery and did not see or hear of any of the above being taken.”

A Gerardo Gonzalez also passed along information to an APD officer from pro-life activist Abby Johnson, quoting Johnson’s Facebook page, which warned that activists “are planning on getting arrested and being aggressive with prolifer.” Gonzalez wrote to Leverenz that “[Pro-choicers] are very angry, hurting people.”

A “Summary of Open Source Activity” offers a timeline of anonymous tips related to possible “threats” at the Capitol from June 27 through July 13.

It’s not immediately apparent from the documents where the “intelligence” came from regarding the jars of feces and urine. The source of the rumors about the jars of feces and menstrual blood appear to come from a July 11th conversation on the Last Stand with Texas Women Facebook event page. Elliott Weeks in DPS’ media and communications department emailed screen grabs of that page to otherDPS personnel on July 15th, three days after the explosive Capitol showdown.

Update: A DPS spokesman responded to questions from the Observer. Here are the question we posed and the agency’s response in its entirety.

1)      What advantage did closely monitoring social media accounts provide DPS?

We do not discuss security measures or methods.

2) How did DPS gather intelligence on the meetings of activist groups? Were there undercover law enforcement personnel present at the meetings?

We do not discuss security measures or methods.

3) The documents still do not show any evidence of those “suspected” jars of feces and urine despite Director McCraw’s requests to produce any photos showing potential disruptive objects. Was DPS definitively unable to locate any photographic (or other) of these items?

We have no additional information to provide you.

4) Is it routine for DPS to monitor the social media accounts of private citizens?

We do not discuss security measures or methods.

  • getoffmylawn

    Translation of DPS texts and emails: “Anti-choice activists started rumors that pro-choice demonstrators were going to be “urinating and defecating in gallery” during the Senate session. There was no intelligence that said that, and no direct knowledge of any such behavior being planned. An anti-choice activist made the libelous claim, and, instead of investigating the RUMOR, and the rumor monger herself, the DPS took is as gospel and began shaking down innocent citizens.”

    Everybody involved needs to be fired. Now.

  • IslandTyger

    Abby Johnson, who I note, no “investigator” googled as research, seems to have started this whole thing and DPS swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. Some great crime fighters we (do not) have.

  • Tejanarusa

    So, I admit, I got bored after 98 pages of repeated copies of the same “press release” making the original claim, and emails and copies of tweets that were nothing more than rumors, or the photos of the 3 bricks with something green on them. Not a single photo of these alleged jars, nor a signle statement by an identified trooper of having actually seen a single jar.
    Pressed for time…assume you’ll post if you find a smoking jar in the last 54 pages, right?
    What a load of …well, you know.

  • Jackie Armendariz

    “Does anyone realistically believe we would fabricate evidence to support a political agenda. Amazing.” – Steven McCraw. That’s the quote that stands out to me the most. …

    I am really shocked that DPS didn’t better document finding jars of feces/urine to prosecute said smugglers (some documentation on pg. 63. No feces or urine)? They mentioned the large crowd made that difficult, but that’s a lame excuse in my book. They’re all about busting smugglers. DPS is NOT the kind of agency that has a problem being hard-nosed! In our area, in less than a year, we’ve had a wreck that left a family of six dead. It was caused by a car thief when a DPS trooper gave chase. In October two immigrants were shot dead when caught in DPS gunfire targeting a suspected drug load later proved to be human beings instead. So, in light of this, DPS is telling us they’re not going to take any action against people attempting to enter the Capitol (one of the most respected symbols of our state) with literal shit?! … Sure, there might not be a law explicitly making the smuggling of poop into the Capitol illegal, but I’d bet there is some criminal charge that could be lodged. … I think someone should try to interview the Senate Sgt.-At-Arms. … Also, who is Corey Williams (page 23). … Glitter is not THAT scary DPS, but sure, I guess it could hurt your eyes. … Shame on the woman who said she was serious about throwing period blood. WTF. … Finally, I can (sorta) see why the protesters drawing Capitol floor plans alarmed DPS.

    • Corey Williams

      I’m the Corey Williams they’re referring to in the documents.

      • Jackie Armendariz

        Hi Corey, thanks for the heads up.

  • hutlee

    Always Remember this: The state, it’s government, and it’s people are a bright red color, and anything from the right is gospel, and anything from the left is communism, or worse. So, naturally the wingnuts will be believed, while the rest of us are viewed as a pain the ass. Isn’t living in a one party state wonderful!

    Windy Davis for Governor! Because, going backwards into the future has little appeal for anyone, except the Tea Party. (Ok, I stayed from topic, sorry.)

  • TexasEllen

    The anti-choice folks seem to project on others the tactics they might employ if they were opposed to some legislation. Many of the demonstrators (orange women?) were in our sixties and seventies, remembering the pre-Roe era. The most wicked thing I did was use ASL to demonstrate approval or objection from the gallery. That was shut down within about half an hour.

  • cary0

    So they banned tampons just to be sure.

  • Jenn Studebaker

    Bahahaha! DPS was reading my tweets.

  • SoberMoney

    Hey brothers and sisters, its not law enforcement incompetence. It’s clearly police state tactics and public information propoganda.

    Syria’s dictator says the “terrorists’ used gas to kill hundreds. And Egypt’s military is calling the anti-coup demonstrators “terrorists.”

    The DPS say they women’s rights demonstrators used uring and feces and real live tampon ammo to make a disgusting display of democracy.

    It won’t be long before the right wing DPS calls the pro-choice activists “terrorists.” It is the logical next step.

  • schafersman

    The poop is on the faces of the lying right-wing religious anti-choice activists and the stupid DPS officials who believed their lies. You would think that after enduring the lies of right-wing/Tea Party/radical Republicans for years, public officials here would be more skeptical. But no, not in Texas where being poorly educated, gullible, and fantasy-prone are considered virtues by the state’s politicians.

  • SoberMoney

    A DPS spokesperson was asked by a reporter what the department thought about Roe vs. Wade.

    The spokesperson said: “We don’t care how the Haitians get back to the island, as long as they get back one way or the other.”

  • GreenPirate

    Alright! I made page 72! hahaha Poopgate. Can’t believe we are paying for these people to take screenshots of twitter. Cut funding.

  • newsmom4968

    As one of the “orange women” who spent day after day at the capitol right up to the very end, I was among those who had nothing but praise for DPS troopers UNTIL that last day, when a battalion of outstate troopers were imported to oversee us, the the “unruly mob.”

    And therein hangs a tale.

    I suspect (a) many of the imports had never been confronted with a peaceful group as large as this one was and resented the fact that they didn’t have cause to slap us around; (b) they were not accustomed to being in a situation where they felt their authority was not so much disrepected as it was ignored — we were accustomed to troopers who stood by and let protesters protest; and (c) frustrated that they had no reason to come after us, dreamed up a reason and charged into an unsuspecting group, tasering some and pushing and shoving others. They came to teach us commie pinkos a lesson.

    Once again, a small group of bullies with uniforms, guns and batons decided to show off. They didn’t count on being called to account for their behavior because they were comrtable being bullies who were not ever called to account. Many came from small communities and brought their small-town mentality with them. Now their keeper is flailing around, trying to divine a way out of a mess his out-of-control minions got him into. Steve McCraw can’t provide meaningful responses to meaningful questions because to do so means he’d have to tell the truth, and since he doesn’t want to lie, he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    So that’s what I think. But that’s just me.