Streamer who films racial injustice protests one of 4 arrested at downtown Austin demonstration

Austin Protests

(KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — At least four people were arrested at a demonstration in downtown Austin on Friday night, including a man who has regularly filmed racial injustice protests since the end of May.

Thousands of people have watched Hiram Gilberto Garcia’s streams from protests over the last two months.

The 23-year-old, who describes himself as an “independent journalist,” is not linked to any media organization but posts his live streams on his personal Facebook page as well as his website, imhiram.com.

He was arrested at the protest on Friday night, according to an affidavit.

Arrest affidavits show that at least three other people were arrested – Monique De la Cruz, 26, Lauren Mestas, 24, and Beth Altobelli, 24.

De la Cruz and Mestas were both arrested and charged with criminal trespass. Altobelli was charged with obstructing a roadway and failure to identify.

According to Travis County Jail records, Garcia was arrested on charges of interfering with public duties and resisting arrest.

Garcia was streaming when he was arrested. His video shows a large number of officers approaching the crowd of protesters. In the video, officers apprehend another man before approaching Garcia.

An affidavit said the officers were working to arrest that person with a bullhorn and formed a line to separate that person from the other protesters, who had begun pressing forward. The affidavit says Garcia was reaching between the officers and had been warned to get back. An officer who pushed Garcia back said in the affidavit that Garcia “raised his left hand with a clenched fist and took a preparatory striking stance, and appeared ready to strike me.” The affidavit said Garcia then ran into the crowd, and the officer alerted other officers to arrest him.

The affidavit said one officer grabbed Garcia’s jacket as he tried to run into the crowd, and another officer pushed him into the APD parking garage. The video appears to show officers taking Garcia to the ground and detaining him, as Garcia can be heard claiming he has done nothing wrong.

The affidavit said officers “kept telling Hiram he was under arrest and to place his hands behind his back, but Hiram would not comply and kept tensing his arms in an attempt to not be placed in handcuffs.” Officers eventually put flex cuffs on Garcia, but the affidavit said he slipped out of them and tried to push himself up from the ground. The affidavit said “we were able to get Hiram back into flex cuffs” but did not specify how.

Another video shot by a member of the protesting group appears to show an officer punching someone twice on the ground. The person who posted the video said Garcia was the person being punched in that clip.

Garcia was taken to the Travis County Jail just after midnight on Saturday, jail records show. He was released at some point between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

A comment on his Facebook page, posted in the early hours of Sunday morning, read “Hiram has been released on bond, thank you for your concern and support! More info when we can share it!”

According to an arrest affidavit, De la Cruz and Mestas were seen climbing on top of barricades along the front steps of the Austin Police Department headquarters at about 11 p.m.

They were warned to stay away from the barricades and not return but did so shortly after, the affidavit says.

Mestas was arrested. De la Cruz attempted to run away, a police officer said in the affidavit, but was caught by an officer after about 30 feet and also arrested.

Officers report seeing Altobelli standing in the I-35 service road near APD’s headquarters at about 10 p.m. Officers saw traffic stopping and changing lanes to avoid striking her, an affidavit says.

At this point, protesters were warned to stay out of the road but Altobelli remained in the roadway, police said. She was arrested and taken into custody.

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