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Bud Kennedy

‘Empower’ Texans, but against police? Fiscal group sides with Arlington ‘cop watch’ activist

By Bud Kennedy

bud@star-telegram.com

May 02, 2017 7:13 PM

ARLINGTON

“Empower Texans” sounds like such a nice name.

But what kind of Texans?

Empower Texans’ political affiliate is backing an Arlington City Council candidate with two convictions for confrontations involving city police.

Only four years ago, now-District 3 candidate Pablo R. Frias was pepper-sprayed outside a bar named Redneck Heaven.

It was about 2 a.m. on a March night. “You have no right to arrest me,” Frias told police.

The arresting officer described “belligerent behavior, the appearance of his eyes being watery, having a glazed-over look and appearing bloodshot.”

Frias was convicted of disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor.

It was neither his first nor last visit with police.

Late in 2014, Frias was a “cop watch” activist with Open Carry Tarrant County, staging a series of “policing the police” video events after officers limited where members could carry arms or pass out copies of the Constitution.

When the “cop watchers” followed police to a call about an armed man threatening his fiancee on Ruth Street, a neighbor shouted for them to “leave the police alone.”

According to the police report, Frias confronted the 55-year-old woman, hollering that she didn’t know her rights and calling police “terrible.”

One officer was delayed making the call. Others had to handle Frias. He was convicted of interference with public duties, a misdemeanor, by interrupting the response.

All these laws, they strip away our rights.

Arlington council candidate Pablo Frias in 2015 CBS News interview

A few days later, Frias told CBS News he videoed police “for educational purposes”: “All these laws, they strip away our rights.”

Interviewed last month, Frias called that incident a “First Amendment initiative” and maintained he was within his rights.

“That is not something I’m making an issue in this campaign,” he said.

Frias, now 28, is running Saturday as the fiscal watchdog, pro-liberty candidate against law school student Blerim Elmazi, veteran campaigner Marvin Sutton and political newcomer Roxanne Thalman in the southeast-side seat vacated by Robert Rivera.

The election is Saturday for the vacant southeast Arlington council seat.

Empower Texans recommends candidates through its matching political affiliate, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.

Both are largely financed by their 12-year chairman, Midland oilman and Christian school educator Tim Dunn.

On Facebook, Frias thanked Empower Texans for supporting his “fiscal solutions” to “alleviate the tax burden.”

The group is also recommending local candidates in Aledo, Colleyville, Grapevine and Keller.

Police might take note.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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