Houston police on Monday arrested eight people for trespassing at Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's residence while protesting climate change amid the state's ongoing power crisis.
A group of 60 to 70 people had congregated outside Cruz's house at around 11 a.m. on Monday to call on President Joe Biden to stop negotiating with "climate deniers" like the senator and to move forward with structuring the Civilian Climate Corps, a policy to create government jobs to combat climate change.
The Houston Police Department said that while the majority of the protesters were "extremely peaceful" and were exercising their First Amendment right to protest against climate change, a small group broke the law by trespassing on Cruz's private property.
The eight protesters were given multiple warnings and opportunities to leave Cruz's lawn, but they refused for over an hour, a police spokesperson said.
"We explained to them that they were violating the trespassing law. They acknowledged that they understood and they chose to be arrested," the spokesperson said.
The police spokesperson said they supported people's First Amendment right to protest and that while arrests are always the last resort, authorities had "exhausted" all other options at the time.
Cruz's office declined to comment.
Photos and videos shared on social media showed the handful of protesters on Cruz's lawn, carrying similar signs, including one reading "Our homes flood. Our people freeze. Cruz abandons us."
One video showed Cruz's dog Snowflake looking at the protesters through a front door window, reminiscent of the time in February when the poodle was photographed after the senator ditched him and millions of Texans freezing in a deadly winter storm for a Cancún family vacation.
The senator received widespread criticism at the time for jetting off to the sunny holiday destination during the power outages that killed hundreds more people than the state's official death toll acknowledged.
Cruz has also been criticized for using social media memes and stunts to engage in a right-wing culture war while his state continues to grapple with deadly crises, including the pandemic.
Last week, Cruz annoyed some people online for posting a video of himself reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before the American flag instead of addressing the state's ongoing electric crisis.
He tweeted the video on the same day that the state's main electric power grid utility urged Texans to reduce their electric use to avoid blackouts during a blistering heat wave in the state.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) issued the five-day-long advisory to warn residents that the power supply was low due to "a significant number of forced generation outages combined with potential record electric use for the month of June."
The protesters arrested on Cruz's lawn Monday belong to a group called Generation on Fire, which is a campaign by the Sunrise Movement consisting of young people from the South who have marched hundreds of miles from New Orleans to Houston to demand "equitable" jobs to fight the climate crisis and "rebuild their hurricane-devastated home."
"People in the Gulf South have been hit hard by one climate disaster after the other, they know too well the hurricanes, floods, and freezes that ravage the land. That’s why @smvmtgenonfire walked more than *400 miles* from New Orleans, to this climate denier’s lawn," the Sunrise Movement said in a tweet.
The climate change activists called on Biden to "end negotiations w/ corrupt GOP politicians and oil executives."