Austin leaders, representatives react to weekend protests

Austin City Hall was one of several downtown buildings to be vandalized during this past weekend's protests. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall was one of several downtown buildings to be vandalized during this past weekend's protests. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin City Hall was one of several downtown buildings to be vandalized during this past weekend's protests. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

After a weekend of protests and demonstrations from Austin citizens demanding overhauls of police accountability, Austin leaders and representativeshave expressed a mix of reactions and ideas for policy changes moving forward.

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.”

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.


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."

By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


MOST RECENT

Reports surfaced Feb. 22 of dogs falling ill after swimming in Lake Travis. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Blue-green algae toxic to animals found in Hudson Bend area of Lake Travis

Solid organic material was taken for testing from the edge of Travis Landing located on the east side of Hudson Bend. Those samples indicated the presence of algae and decaying algae containing cyanotoxin, which is fatal to dogs and other animals.

Full-time staff would receive a $500 allotment for personal protective equipment, while part-time employees would be given a one-time $250 payment. (Screenshot courtesy Pflugerville ISD)
Pflugerville ISD approves one-time PPE, vaccine incentive stipends for staff

Full-time staff would receive a $500 allotment for personal protective equipment, while part-time employees would be given a one-time $250 payment.

Samsung's proposed $17 billion chip-making plant would dwarf other recent megaprojects that sought tax incentives in the region.
Samsung’s request to pay no property tax on $17 billion plant tests Austin’s incentive policy

Samsung is asking for 100% property tax reimbursement over 25 years, which would mark the most aggressive corporate tax break in Austin history.

A new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could help expand vaccination availability in Travis County, according to local health officials. (Courtesy Pexels)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine could mean additional supply, easier distribution rollout in Travis County

If approved, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be a valuable weapon against the ongoing pandemic, according to local health officials.

Austin ISD students will begin the 2021-22 school year Tuesday, Aug. 17. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Take a look at Austin ISD’s newly approved calendar for the 2021-22 school year

Austin ISD trustees have approved the academic calendar for the upcoming 2021-22 school year.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

Austin ISD students are scheduled to return to classrooms March 1 for the first time since Winter Storm Uri. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Winter storm damage could prevent 10 Austin ISD campuses from reopening next week

Austin ISD students are scheduled to return to classrooms March 1 for the first time since Winter Storm Uri.

A tree's branches fell on a car in North Austin in the midst of Winter Storm Uri in February. With downed tree limbs and burst water lines causing property damage across Austin, the city has directed additional funds into programs to help some homeowners with emergency home repairs. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Still in crisis mode, Austin City Council initiates recovery following winter storm

With 200 to 400 apartment and condo complexes in Austin still without water, City Council is aiming to direct aid and relieve some of the financial burden felt by residents following the devastating winter storms.

Jo's Coffee opened a North Austin location in January. (Courtesy Chad Wadsworth)
Jo's Coffee opens in Central Austin; new restaurant coming to Georgetown Square and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Here is everything you need to know about Williamson County’s COVID-19 vaccine plan. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Here is everything you need to know about Williamson County’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

Here is a breakdown of what happened, how decisions were made and how vaccine distribution is moving forward in Williamson County.

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic. (Courtesy Qygen, Wikimedia Commons)
Fry's Electronics calls it quits after nearly 36 years in business

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic.