Local, state and federal representatives took to social media throughout the weekend to voice support of both demonstrators and police.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler released a statement May 29 on Facebook—ahead of the weekend’s protests—stating that police who kill should be arrested and face due process.
As of publishing time, Adler has not released a statement regarding Saturday's or Sunday’s demonstrations.
Several members of Austin City Council responded to the demonstrations with calls to investigate and reform police accountability.
“The community’s trust in our police department is broken," Council Member Jimmy Flannigan said in a May 31 tweet. "Good police officers trying to do the right thing deserve better. Our District 6 constituents asking for more police coverage in their neighborhoods deserve better. And we, the citizens of Austin, deserve better.”
"... scenes of violence and destruction cause a visceral reaction of disgust, as do images of police response appearing to focus on innocent bystanders and members of the media. This is unacceptable. "
Pic by @JanaB04 pic.twitter.com/8Gq7Pi2Syj
— Jimmy Flannigan (@JimmyFlannigan) May 31, 2020
In a June 1 tweet, Council Member Greg Casar said he is calling for emergency council hearings on tactics used by the Austin Police Department during the weekend’s protests—including the use of rubber bullets, bean-bag rounds and tear gas to disperse crowds—and to address demands from local Black Lives Matter organizers.
My colleagues and I are calling for emergency Council hearings on:
1) #BlackLivesMatter demands
2) Police tactics during the #AustinProtests
We have to change this system, and all people deserve to be safe during these demonstrations.
— Gregorio Casar (@GregCasar) June 1, 2020
Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison released a statement May 31 in conjunction with local, black political leaders Texas State Rep. Sheryl Cole, Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion, Manor Mayor Larry Wallace Jr., and Pflugerville Council Member Rudy Metayer that calls for broad changes to the criminal justice system.
“We must, and we will, use our abilities and resources to change our society for the better,” the statement reads. “We clearly have to change the shamefully predictable cycle of violence, outrage, protests and promises made. We have to change the system.”
Six state representatives from Travis County also issued a joint statement May 31. The statement, cosigned by Reps. Eddie Rodriguez, Donna Howard, Celia Israel, Gina Hinojosa, Cole and Vikki Goodwin, admonished violence that broke out during demonstrations.
The joint statement did not offer any information regarding policy changes moving forward, though Hinojosa said in a Twitter comment that if re-elected, she will file a bill next legislative session to introduce disciplinary actions to be levied against law enforcement officers for certain crimes.
Democratic and Republican leaders in U.S. Congress from districts in Travis County and Williamson County have largely held back from proposing any legislative changes for nationwide criminal justice reform.
An exception is U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, who represents Texas’ 21st congressional district, which includes downtown Austin and portions of south Austin. Roy wrote in a May 31 tweet that he will call for congressional hearings following the weekend’s nationwide protests to determine "leaders & key participants of the riots & looting."
I will be calling on Congressional hearings to determine, to the extent possible, how many of the leaders & key participants of the riots & looting have been 1) Antifa, and/or 2) folks not behind bars because of reaction to the corona virus and/or any recent policy changes.
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) May 31, 2020