AUSTIN (KXAN) — High school students are leading a protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in downtown Austin on Saturday afternoon.
Grassroots organizers from the group Austin Liberation Youth Movement began the protest at the Capitol at about 1 p.m. and finished at City Hall.
“In Austin alone, racism is deeply entrenched within the city, whether it be through gentrification and the segregation of East and West Austin, or through the underfunding of majority black and brown schools,” the group said in a statement.
“We are organizing this protest to fight against these systemic issues. It is time for the youth to take matters into their own hands to demand change and turn their vision of a free and just society into a reality.”
The group says it has a number of goals, including defunding the Austin Police Department, demilitarizing law enforcement and removing police from schools.
Protests have become a common sight in Austin and across the country since George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis in May, sparking nationwide civil unrest.
In a video taken moments before Floyd died, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin can be seen kneeling on his neck. Chauvin has been charged with murder and manslaughter.
In Austin, local artists painted “Black Austin Matters” on the street of Congress Avenue in a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Since the last week of May, thousands of people have taken to the streets of downtown to protest against police brutality and racial injustice.
The Austin Police Department has faced criticism over its use of less-lethal force during the protests on the weekend of May 30-31.
APD previously released the names of five officers who have been placed on paid administrative duty following complaints about the police department’s use of force, which included some protesters being shot by beanbag rounds and rubber bullets.
Organizers of the demonstrations called for justice following the deaths of Floyd and Michael Ramos, who was shot dead in southeast Austin by APD officer Christopher Taylor on April 24.
Taylor’s lawyers previously said he is the subject of a criminal investigation into the death of 42-year-old Ramos.
Officers fired shots at his car while responding to a drug-related 911 call. Ramos was unarmed at the time.