A new form of political expression is becoming more popular due to COVID-19 restrictions — car caravans. In Boerne, New Braunfels and other parts of Texas, large “Trump Trains” roll through town on a regular basis.
At the first local rally on August 29, about 200 vehicles drove through the streets of Boerne. In the first week of September, that caravan swelled to 400. And over Labor Day weekend, it grew to more than 500.
“And it was great to see so many happy, patriotic people out. It was a lot of fun,” said organizer Lorrie Agold-Rich.
Agold-Rich has helped coordinate the three events in Boerne. After the city received traffic and noise complaints following the first two rallies, the police department reached out to assist with traffic control for the third.
“We told everybody to follow the traffic laws — they all apply,” she said. “It's not a real parade, so you can't be hanging out of your vehicle or anything like that, or riding in the back.”
Even with that guidance, a Boerne Police Department spokesperson said police issued citations or warnings for four traffic law violations during the most Labor Day weekend event.
During a separate Trump Train in New Braunfels, one participant drew criticism from event organizers when they dragged a Black Lives Matter flag through the streets.
In a written statement, New Braunfels Mayor Rusty Brockman said, “I do not condone any activity, symbolism, speech, or imagery with overt or implied racism or hatred.”
No incidents like that have happened in Boerne, and Agold-Rich said she wants to keep it that way.
“I think Ronald Reagan had really described patriotism as thinking positive about your country,” she said. “So we want people to focus on the positive and focus on our country, and on President Trump and the reelection, and not get into the politics and the negative stuff.”
Local Joe Biden supporters plan to hold a similar event this weekend, and the Boerne Police Department will again provide traffic control. The Texas Department of Public Safety encourages participants to follow traffic laws and stay inside their vehicles.
In Laredo, a Trump Train had planned to drive over a street mural against the president’s proposed border wall in the city's downtown.
“It’s symbolic by stating that whoever is driving in this Trump train is supportive of President Trump and that they’re supportive of building the wall along the border, specifically in Laredo,” said Hector Garza, the Trump Train organizer and president of the local chapter of the National Border Patrol Council.
But the No Border Wall Coalition had requested a permit to touch up the mural with veterans this weekend, and another group plans to paint a “Back The Blue” mural nearby. Coalition leader Tricia Cortez said the city manager’s office had asked them if they could reschedule their event. She said it was unclear if the Trump Train also had an approved permit.
“Why are we being asked to not do it? What is so important about having the Trump Train drive over our mural and disrespect another Laredo group’s message?” she said.
The city manager’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Garza said they reached an agreement to change their route to avoid driving over the mural — for now. He did not answer questions about whether the Trump Train received a permit but said they had been working with the city for weeks.
“We are planning more events in the future, and we’re sure we’ll have another opportunity to symbolize what we wanted to do,” Garza said.
The No Border Wall Coalition says they’re grateful City Council listened to their concerns, and they were able to avoid a clash with the Trump train this weekend.
"We are glad the issue was resolved fairly, peacefully and in accordance with city guidelines," Cortez said in an email. "We trust that Trump Train organizers have control over their own event and also the participants that they have invited into the city of Laredo, and there will be no disruptions during the planned, permitted events by LULAC, Veterans and their families."
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