Texas House candidate Alec Johnson has doubled down on his plan to arrest Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton for attempted manslaughter, saying their plan to reopen the state economy amid the coronavirus pandemic is “heartless politics” and “state-sponsored killing.”
Earlier this month, Johnson said he planned to arrest the governor and attorney general if either “set foot in any of the three counties of District 11.” The Nacogdoches Democrat is seeking the District 11 seat currently held by Republican Travis Clardy.
“Not surprisingly, neither Abbott nor Paxton has yet visited District 11 to surrender to me,” Johnson said Tuesday.
In a press release, Johnson laid out a legal argument for charging two of the state’s top Republicans with attempted manslaughter and making a citizens arrest.
“I understand that reasonable people might reasonably conclude that I’m off my rocker. Let me take a moment to address their concerns,” Johnson said. “No one is supposed to be above the law and it should be applied equally to everyone. That ideal isn’t always observed, but I think the principle is quite solid so we’ll go with it.”
Johnson said his case relies on the fact that “plans exist for successful pandemic responses that are clearly superior to the plan Governor Abbott is insisting on inflecting on us.” He pointed to several countries that have waited for cases to peak, frozen debt and offered no-strings attached hard cash support for the duration of the pandemic. Once the peak is passed, he suggested, businesses should reopen slowly and cautiously.
“These successful solutions are not secret nor hiding somewhere. In fact, their success is the stuff of headlines in international news. Nation’s like Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and others have figured out the best approach,” Johnson said. “It isn’t possible that the Great State of Texas, even with our grossly misled state government, would be unable to discover these successful plans – unless, of course, they simply weren’t looking for them.”
Polls show Texans are conflicted about reopening. A Washington Post poll earlier this month found that 57% of Texans approve of Abbott’s plans while 41% disapprove.
Johnson has previously said he believes Republican leadership is “comfortable trading lives for a chance at profit” because “mostly black and brown people are being sacrificed.” Earlier this year, he kicked off his campaign with a focus on antiracism.
Frontline and essential employees who have faced exposure to the virus throughout the pandemic are largely composed of black and Hispanic workers. There is some evidence that African Americans have worse outcomes from the coronavirus than other racial groups.
“I know I’ve chosen a curious tactic. I recognize that better approaches to ending state-sponsored killing may exist,” Johnson said Tuesday. “Still, I have no regrets if my action helps focus attention on the fact that lives can be saved and black, brown and white lives are always worth fighting for.”