AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department is on “tactical alert” in anticipation of any large gatherings that may appear after the verdict of the Derek Chauvin trial is announced.
Chauvin is the former Minneapolis officer charged in the May 2020 death of George Floyd, whose final moments caught on video sparked weeks-long protests nationwide, including here in Austin. The jury went into deliberations Monday.
APD Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon said in a Friday press conference that officers will be on “tactical alert” in case similar large gatherings and protests arise as the verdict is handed down.
“The goal of our preparations is to make sure that those large gatherings are able to assemble peacefully, that people are able to come out and exercise their first amendment rights and that they can do so safely,” he said. “And then also to be prepared should those peaceful gatherings at some point change and become violent or become destructive.”
Chacon explained “this is not a new phenomenon,” and preparations such as these are normal. APD implemented similar safety plans during the November 2020 election week and for President Joe Biden’s inauguration day.
Going on “tactical alert” gives APD access to more officers than what would normally be scheduled, in case a need rises.
“Just as a reminder what that means is that we’re asking all of our officers who are coming to work regardless of their assignment to be in uniform and be prepared to respond if needed,” Chacon said on Friday.
Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation want to remind demonstrators to avoid walking or gathering on highways, as it puts themselves and drivers in danger. Austin protesters in May 2020 gathered on Interstate 35 and effectively shut down the roadway.
The Travis County Sheriff’s Office said it will be available to assist APD if asked.