AUSTIN (KXAN) — As some protests turned violent across the country, several Texas cities have enforced curfews. Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio all set curfews following tense moments this past weekend.
In Austin, Mayor Steve Adler said a curfew is a possibility, but he doesn’t believe they will use it anytime soon. A big part of that comes from the fact that the mayor says Austin Police Chief Brian Manley has not indicated it’s something they need to implement.
“Austin hasn’t done a curfew to this point, principally, because the police chief hasn’t indicated it’s a tool that he wants to use,” Adler said. “My understanding is that, by nature, a curfew sets a certain time when people need to be home, rather than being out, and as you look around at other cities that are doing it, I think that the cities that have chosen to do it have done it because they are feeling such unrest or criminal element in their cities in the evening that they feel like they don’t have the resources to be able to otherwise stop or control.”
Adler said he’s been in contact with city leaders across the country to figure out what’s the best option. While protests in Austin have led to some vandalism and looting of local businesses, Adler said at this point, businesses owners have not requested a curfew.
“I haven’t been approached by any specific or particular businesses asking that the city have a curfew,” he said.
In a statement, The Downtown Austin Alliance President and CEO, Dewitt Peart said “some downtown small businesses have sustained damage as a result of the recent demonstrations, likely at the hands of individuals unaffiliated with the organized protests.”
He added they continue to “encourage and support civic engagement downtown, and ask that all citizens do so safely and respectfully.”
Downtown Austin Alliance Ambassadors were able to cleanup some of the debris and repair the damage.
KXAN asked Adler if he believed implementing a curfew could lead to more violent clashes between police officers and the community like we have seen in other cities, he said that is a factor.
“Yes, I think there was always a concern, with respect to a curfew, that you would create more challenges than you would solve,” he said. “But then other cities have looked at it on their situations that exist at the moment, and they have decided on balance that it makes sense for them to implement a curfew. Again, every city is different and the situations that every city finds themselves in is different. And those situations can change over time. But thus far, in this event, for our city, it’s not something that the police chief has requested.”
Chas Moore, the executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition said, “I think it’s safe to say that tensions are high right now and I think anything we can do to decrease interactions between citizens and law enforcement it key.” He added a citywide curfew would not be a solution.
Said Adler: “You know, I think that the incident with George Floyd is obviously not in our city, but the elements and issues that give rise to that are in every American city right now. It’s a really serious issue. You look at George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery. Just look in our city with Larry Jackson and David Joseph, and then recently with Mike Ramos. The questions of policing culture — and in our history a legacy of racism and systemic inadequacies — is something is part of what we’re dealing with now. We didn’t create those problems, but we are dealing with those legacies and it’s our responsibility to fix them.”
Moore said the Austin Justice Coalition has plans to schedule another protest in the next couple of weeks. This time, he said, AJC is looking for a venue and will adhere to social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.