AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Mayor Steve Adler says he recognizes the importance of Saturday’s protests throughout downtown Austin, but is asking people to demonstrate safely.
“It is a good and powerful thing to be able to demonstrate and that’s a good thing. I expect our law enforcement to continue to show restraint. Recognizing this is in a pandemic, I want people to be safe. Austin is a progressive city and is working really hard…it is important we have accountability and we show true compassion moving forward,” Adler said.
Adler, in an interview with KXAN, wants demonstrators to get the message across and avoid confrontation.
“My hope is they don’t win the day,” Adler said of potential violent demonstrators.
Protests gathered near the Austin Police Department headquarters on East 8th Street on Saturday afternoon. The demonstration moved toward Interstate 35 blocking the highway on both sides for an hour.
People marched toward the Texas State Capitol following confrontations with police on I-35. As of Saturday evening, protesters moved back to APD headquarters, blocking the frontage roads and I-35 for the second time.
Protesters chanted “I can’t breathe,” calling for justice following the deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota and Michael Ramos, who was shot in southeast Austin by APD officer Christopher Taylor on April 24.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley released a statement on social media Saturday afternoon saying APD appreciates “peaceful protest”, but will not tolerate violence and destruction.
“Our officers are working to keep the community safe with compassion, professionalism and respect, as the demonstration continues downtown. We appreciate peaceful protest and will continue providing a safe space for the community to express emotions. That being said, violence and destruction of property will not be tolerated,” Manley said in the post.