C.J. Grisham, a retired U.S. Army veteran and gun-rights activist running for the Texas House from Bell County, has come under fire from a statewide law enforcement organization for comments appearing on Facebook.
Grisham, 43, is running in the Republican primary to unseat incumbent Hugh Shine.
He reportedly wrote, “I’m done feeling bad when cops get shot,” in a Facebook comment June 22 and on that same day commented that “this is why people like me have lost confidence in the law enforcement profession and treat them all they way they treat us — like a threat. This video hurts my heart and my soul.”
Grisham said Saturday he does not recall the specific act that prompted him to make those comments.
“But I’m sure it was another incident involving abuse of power or excessive force,” he said. “The reason it hurts my heart is because it reflects badly on the law enforcement community, makes it work twice as hard, because one guy beats up a teenager or shoots an innocent person.”
Response to post
Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Metropolitan Police Association, visited Waco last week to “make the public aware” of Grisham’s comments and provide a transcript of what he said were Grisham’s posts. The association has endorsed Shine.
“The fact of the matter is, if voters choose to elect someone with his views, that is their right. We just want to make known his position,” Lawrence said. “We represent 27,000 law enforcement officers, and we take exception to what he has had to say. He bullies people who disagree with his position.”
Grisham said the association “has turned its back on its own members to push its leftist agenda. I’ve gone toe-to-toe with them on occasion, and now they’re going through year-old Facebook posts regarding one specific incident, and they portray me as anti-cop.”
He said he has worked with law enforcement officers “from Brownsville to Amarillo” as part of a joint-terrorism task force.
“The problem I have with the TMPA is they don’t want to do anything about bad actors, those who abuse their authority and use excessive force,” Grisham said. “I was falsely arrested twice, when the cops literally stuck guns to my head for no reason, other than the fact I was asking questions. They did this in front of my son, a bullying officer trying to get attention.”
According to the Temple Daily Telegram, Grisham was confronted by police officers in March 2013 while carrying an AR-15 rifle on a 10-mile hike with his son. Grisham was arrested on a charge of resisting arrest, but the charge was later reduced to interfering with a peace officer, and he was convicted on that Class B misdemeanor charge, according to the Telegram.
Lawrence referenced this “high-profile case” in his news conference, saying Grisham “had an assault rifle hung over his shoulder secured by a quick-release strap,” and his response to law officers prompted an altercation.
He said Grisham is using isolated cases to demonize peace officers “who respond to no-win situations at 3 o’clock in the morning, and then get second-guessed ad nauseum for the decisions they make.”
Grisham, who founded the gun-rights group Open Carry Texas, was later arrested at the State Capitol for trespass and resisting arrest for carrying a toy gun and refusing to leave when ordered to do so by the Department of Public Safety.
He was never formally charged, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
“If I get elected, there will be more gun rights in Texas for law-abiding citizens, and that scares them,” Grisham said.
‘Spreading a lie’
He said he visited a hotel Friday on Woodway Drive, where Lawrence was meeting with the media. He said he wanted to tell his side of the story.
“They flat-out refused to talk to me,” he said. “They knew if they did, they would realize they were spreading a lie.”
He described Shine as a “juggernaut, with the money to buy this election, with his nearly daily mailings and commercials.”
“You cannot make repeated threats toward police and then blame someone else when you get caught,” Shine said in an email to the Tribune-Herald. “These are the type of incendiary remarks that incite violence and stoke division in our community.
“Furthermore, some of these comments were made less than a year ago — so you can’t say this is old or you’ve changed. … Some of these statements were so violent that TMPA felt compelled to get out and condemn Mr. Grisham because his history of making these comments poses a threat to law enforcement.”
Grisham is running for the Texas House District 55 seat to represent most of Bell County, including Temple, Belton, Troy, Holland, Rogers, Morgan’s Point and portions of Killeen and Fort Hood. Early voting starts Tuesday.
Asked about last week’s shooting at a high school in Florida that left 17 students dead, Grisham said teachers should be able to arm themselves.
“My thought is we need to stop victimizing our young children and educators,” he said. “Educators, should they choose, should be able to protect students by arming themselves, if they have the required license.”