Many across the nation were shocked to see the heavy-handed techniques employed by the police department in Ferguson, Missouri. In a series of protests, American citizens were routinely threatened by the very officers that were sworn to protect them. No matter what one’s opinion of the case, any time a situation degrades to that level in the United States, it is something that must be investigated to the full extent of the law.
But similar excessive uses of force have been enacted in Texans too, and in their case, they weren’t protesting or putting anyone else’s life in danger. At the direction of Attorney General Greg Abbott, Houstonians were subjected to a frightening armed police raid, all because they were trying to register voters. Here’s the exclusive story, as reported by James Drew of the Dallas Morning News…
On an overcast Monday afternoon, officers in bulletproof vests swept into a house on Houston’s north side. The armed deputies and agents served a search warrant. They carted away computers, hard drives and documents.
The raid targeted a voter registration group called Houston Votes, which was accused of election fraud. It was initiated by investigators for Attorney General Greg Abbott. His aides say he is duty-bound to preserve the integrity of the ballot box.
His critics, however, say that what Abbott has really sought to preserve is the power of the Republican Party in Texas. They accuse him of political partisanship, targeting key Democratic voting blocs, especially minorities and the poor, in ways that make it harder for them to vote, or for their votes to count.
A close examination of the Houston Votes case reveals the consequences when an elected official pursues hotly contested allegations of election fraud.
The investigation was closed one year after the raid, with no charges filed. But for Houston Votes, the damage was done. Its funding dried up, and its efforts to register more low-income voters ended. Its records and office equipment never were returned. Instead, under a 2013 court order obtained by Abbott’s office, they were destroyed.
And the dramatic, heavily armed raid never was necessary, according to Fred Lewis, president of Texans Together, the nonprofit parent group of Houston Votes. “They could have used a subpoena,” he said. “They could have called us and asked for the records. They didn’t need guns.”
To be innocent citizens subjected to a police raid, only to have the charges of any illegal activity dropped is nothing short of persecution. And to make matters our, the would-be Suppressor-In-Chief doesn’t seem to regret the turmoil endured by Texans working with Houston Votes. Just recently in the Dallas Morning News, Greg Abbott actually defended the police raid directed from his office…
Attorney General Greg Abbott said Tuesday that his office’s investigation of a Houston voter registration group that netted no prosecutions but left the organization in tatters was justified.
The 2010 investigation, which included an aggressive raid, targeted a group called Houston Votes, which was accused of voter fraud.
“We have a division that focuses on issues like this, and they operate very professional,” he said. “They undertook an investigation of allegations that were made.”
Even those that support Abbott should be taking pause from this. If Greg Abbott’s idea of an “investigation” always means armed cops forcing their way into a home via warrant, there is much to fear for the future of Texas if he gets elected.
The whole situation doesn’t bode well for Abbott’s stated political philosophy either. There was nothing “Conservative” about the Attorney General’s actions here. In a city where real criminals roam the streets waiting for their next victim, who could ever conceive that sending an armed law enforcement team to go after a few voter registration forms as an appropriate use of Texas tax dollars?
Before Texans go to the polls this November, they must stop and ask… if Greg Abbott is capable of raiding Texas voting groups, what else is he capable of?? Let’s hope it doesn’t take an armed police raid to find out.
For more, see Brains and Eggs, Nonsequiteuse, Texpatriate and Off the Kuff.