Beto O’Rourke publicly confronted Texas’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, during a press conference on Wednesday about a mass school shooting in the town of Uvalde where 19 children and two teachers were killed.
As seen in a video of the press briefing published online, an off-camera O’Rourke is heard approaching the press conference table where several government officials, including Abbott, are seated onstage.
Press conference speakers can be heard instructing the Democratic gubernatorial candidate to “sit down” and telling O’Rourke that he is “out of line”. At one point, an official calls O’Rourke “an embarrassment”.
When O’Rourke gets closer to the stage, security that was present for the press conference begin directing him away from the table. Though parts of O’Rourke’s comments to the speakers are unintelligible, he is heard saying: “You are doing nothing. You are all doing nothing.”
As governor, the rightwing Abbott has presided over a weakening of gun regulations in Texas, despite repeated mass shootings in the state.
“This is totally predictable when you choose not to do anything,” O’Rourke continued as onlookers shouted that O’Rourke was out of line and should be escorted out.
“I can’t believe you sick son of a bitch would come to a deal like this to make a political issue,” said one speaker who appears off-camera as O’Rourke is accompanied out of the conference by security.
Before exiting, O’Rourke turned around to begin addressing Abbott and other speakers again. “This is on you,” he said.
“It’s on assholes like you,” shouted someone back as O’Rourke continued. “Why don’t you get out of here?”
Reaction from press conference observers appeared to be mixed. At one point, an attendee loudly shouted, “Go home,” as O’Rourke was leaving while another chanted: “Let him speak! Let him speak!”
A separate attendee then started to ask about O’Rourke’s first amendment rights, which protect free speech.
Throughout the crowd’s comments and O’Rourke’s interruption, a stoic Abbott remained silent before addressing attendees: “There are family members … there are family members who are crying as we speak. There are family members whose hearts are broken. There’s no words that anybody shouting, that come up here, can do anything.”