Against this backdrop, several Round Rock and Pflugerville city leaders are speaking out.
'Our diversity is a strength for Round Rock'
Round Rock Police Chief Allen Banks urged unity within the Round Rock community in a May 27 tweet. He also stated his belief that Chauvin and the three other officers present for Floyd's death must be held responsible for their actions.
We in law enforcement CAN’T look at the George Floyd case and turn a blind eye! There is NO justification for these actions! We MUST hold officers accountable for atrocious decisions! #UNITYinOneCommUNITY
— Allen Banks (@ChiefAllenBanks) May 27, 2020
In a June 1 call with Community Impact Newspaper, Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan said he supported Banks’ statement; he also said he believes Round Rock’s diverse community is one of the city’s strongest assets.
“We should always strive to improve race relations in this county and in our city, and we should always be willing to listen and learn,” Morgan said. “We are very diverse, and that’s what makes us so strong. Our diversity is a strength for Round Rock.”
In a June 1 district news release, Round Rock ISD Superintendent Steve Flores referred to the past seven days as “a difficult week for our country and our community." Flores pointed to RRISD’s Equity Task Force as a step in the right direction, but also added that the district needs to continually listen to voices of color and actively work against any “anti-blackness practices that are perpetuated by systemic racism.”
“For months now, we have been gravely concerned about a disease that has literally taken the breath from its victims and our focus has been almost solely on keeping ourselves, our families and our communities safe from its spread,” Flores said in the release. “But this past week, the words ‘I can’t breathe’ are a haunting reminder that in our country, evil, hate and a legacy of systemic racism continue to plague our communities of color and, specifically, African Americans.”
In a May 27 tweet, Jeffrey Yarbrough, RRISD executive director of safety and security, said he believes no one should have to beg for their lives while interacting with police officers.
George Floyd a black man handcuffed, held down by 4 cops, begging for his life, calling out for his mother, unable to breathe. When there is brutality & injustice committed by cops, we as police must boldly stand against it & cry aloud for justice until justice is served. pic.twitter.com/6LzlKsSNlj
— Jeffrey Yarbrough (@JeffreyYarbrou2) May 27, 2020
'Racism has not gotten worse; it only is being reported more'
On May 30, a joint statement from five Travis County leaders, including Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion, Pflugerville City Council Member Rudy Metayer and area city and state representatives, condemned Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis police. They added that all residents deserve support, protection and systems that do not discriminate.
The statement also highlighted the efforts of protestors who are marching and demonstrating in and beyond Austin, and its signatories pledged to use their abilities and resources to support residents’ efforts.
“Racism has not gotten worse; it only is being reported more,” the statement read. “Now is the time, for the sake of true equity, for the sake of true justice, and for the sake of the true American promise, to stop tolerating intolerance and to stop ignoring the plight of our neighbors and of ourselves.”
Pflugerville Police Chief Jessica Robledo denounced Floyd’s death as the antithesis of 21st-century policing measures. Robledo said she believes the actions of Chauvin and his partners are “criminal” and “unacceptable" and added that she and her fellow officers offer their condolences with the Floyd family.
“This is not who [police officers] are. We come to work to serve,” Robledo said. “This is not part of our oath.”
In a June 1 video, Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales said city leadership works daily toward just treatment and equity. This, he said, is especially important in a city like Pflugerville, which is one of the most diverse communities in Central Texas.
Gonzales said that these protests not only grieve the death of Floyd but also shed light on the racial prejudice prevalent throughout the country.
“During this tragedy, we must be the hope for our family, community and nation,” Gonzales said. “Social justice must prevail.”