‘Our diversity is a strength’: Round Rock, Pflugerville leaders urge unity, justice for George Floyd

A handmade banner is displayed outside a Round Rock home, referencing some of the final words of George Floyd. Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed in Minneapolis by then-Officer Derek Chauvin on May 25. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)
A handmade banner is displayed outside a Round Rock home, referencing some of the final words of George Floyd. Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed in Minneapolis by then-Officer Derek Chauvin on May 25. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)

A handmade banner is displayed outside a Round Rock home, referencing some of the final words of George Floyd. Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed in Minneapolis by then-Officer Derek Chauvin on May 25. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)

On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old, unarmed black man, was killed in Minneapolis when then-Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes after handcuffing and detaining him. In the week since, protests have erupted across the country—as well as locally in downtown Austinwith protestors condemning police brutality and targeted police violence toward black Americans.

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.


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.


'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.”

Kelsey Thompson - Taylor Jackson Buchanan



MOST RECENT

The first COVID-19 vaccines are on their way to Austin. (Courtesy Baylor College of Medicine)
Thousands of Austin-area healthcare workers will receive Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by mid-December

The Austin area is set to receive 13,650 doses of the vaccine by mid-December for healthcare workers in Travis, Hays and Williamson counties.

Foodie's Corner and Weikel's Bakery are now open in Leander. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Foodie's Corner, Weikel's Bakery open in Leander and more Austin-area news

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

Here are the coronavirus data updates to know today in Williamson County. (Community Impact staff)
Williamson County adds 178 coronavirus cases Dec. 4

Here are the coronavirus data updates to know today in Williamson County.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Dec. 2 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allotted 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to the state of Texas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin Public Health leaders offer insight on COVID-19 vaccine distribution schedule

Local physicians could administer does fo the Pfizer vaccine to high-priority individuals as soon as Dec. 17, one official said.

While the vaccine has not yet arrived in Texas, Williamson County and Family Hospital Systems staff are confident that preparations now will ensure a smooth process to disburse the vaccine once it becomes available. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Williamson County contracts with Family Hospital Systems for COVID-19 vaccines for first responders

While the vaccine has not yet arrived in Texas, Williamson County and Family Hospital Systems staff are confident that preparations now will ensure a smooth process to disburse the vaccine once it becomes available.

A screen shot taken from the animated model posted to the TxDOT website shows Hwy. 79. (Courtesy: TxDOT and the Texas Cowboy YouTube channel)
TxDOT proposes widening Hwy. 79 for safety and mobility improvements

According to TxDOT, Hwy. 79 would be widened to include a third travel lane in each direction from I-35 to east of FM 1460.

Hutto City Council approved a special election to be held March 6 to fill the vacant mayor seat. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mike Snyder announces run for Hutto mayor in special election

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Snyder announced that he is running for mayor of Hutto in the upcoming special election.

Traffic moves along the upper decks of I-35 near downtown Austin on Dec. 1. The Texas Department of Transportation is seeking public feedback on a $4.9 billion project to improve the 8-mile stretch of I-35 through downtown. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Residents question TxDOT spending on I-35 and more Central Texas news

Read the most popular stories from the past week from the Austin area.

Here are the coronavirus data updates to know in Williamson County. (Community Impact staff)
Williamson County coronavirus positivity rate returns to 11.3% on Dec. 3

The county also reported 160 new cases and four deaths.

Williamson County in-person jury trials are delayed after a cleared docket.  (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County in-person jury trials delayed after a cleared docket

The trials were to take place in Judge Doug Arnold’s County Court at Law 3 courtroom Dec. 7, according to a news release.

The craft show is a yearly event that showcases handcrafted items, holiday decor, jewelry, paintings, candles and other homemade goods created by area vendors. (Courtesy Pflugerville Parks and Recreation Department)
Pflugerville cancels 2-day craft show citing 'growing safety concerns'

The annual craft, initially planned for Dec. 12-13, has been canceled due to "growing safety concerns" for its vendors and event patrons amid the coronavirus pandemic.