AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Capitol police confiscated all kinds of items from people on Friday -- including jars of feces -- as hundreds of protesters flooded the building in the final hours of a Senate debate on a controversial abortion bill.
But one woman told The Huffington Post that Capitol police went as far as to take away food she carried to help with her diabetes and to very publicly confiscate her maxi pads.
Paula Chaney of Georgetown, Texas, described being line at the Capitol with her friends when an officer came over to give a rundown of items not allowed in the building. She said the cop never mentioned feminine products.
"When I got to the bag check, the troopers were all acting very aggressively," Chaney said. "As a diabetic, I carry food -- both quick sugar and protein -- and I have never had any trouble taking it in anywhere when I remind the personnel involved of the protections afforded by ADA law. This time, I was told that the law didn't apply and I either lost my food or my place in line."
Chaney said the officer, who she identified as Trooper Stoner, then unzipped the personal care section of her purse, took out two purple-wrapped maxi pads and "started waving them around, much to my humiliation and horror, and said that they were not allowed in either."
Chaney said she pleaded with him, informing him that her menstrual period had started that day, but the officer accused her of being "aggressive." When she told a supervising officer that the way they were being treated was "a travesty," she said that officer marched her over to the nearest elevator, yelling the entire time, and said she was welcome to leave the building. Without her maxi pads, she decided to leave.
"I am a middle-aged white woman, and not used to being treated this way by law enforcement, certainly not the DPS troopers in the Capitol," Chaney said. "I have been in and out weekly and more all session, and I have never seen anything like I have the last few days."
AmericaBlog captured a video of Chaney moments after the ordeal, which shows her visibly upset as friends comfort her.
Chaney and her friends were dressed in orange T-shirts, a color that represents opposition to the abortion bill. People in support of the bill wore blue shirts. Chaney said she noticed that people in blue shirts in line weren't being searched as closely as she and her friends, and said those people were allowed to bring things into the Senate gallery that she and her friends were not.
"A whole lot of people are trying to shut us up," Chaney said. "This was just way over the line."
The Texas Department of Public Safety indicated earlier Friday that officers would thoroughly search everyone coming into the Capitol for articles that potentially could be thrown at lawmakers for as long as the Senate debate continues. But Stand With Texas Women later tweeted that police had stopped confiscating tampons and maxi pads, at the urging of Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson.
A DPS spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
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Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D)
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
Paul F. Tompkins
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
New Jersey Gubernatorial Candidate Barbara Buono (D)
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)