New records show violent Houston protesters were not from Austin, as HPD Chief Acevedo claimed


Of 603 people arrested, none were from Austin

Art Acevedo_535154

FILE – In this July 25, 2017 file photo, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and other law enforcement take part in public safety event in Austin, Texas. Acevedo is known for his blunt speaking-style and his empathetic side, and both were on display Tuesday, Aug. 29, as he warned looters to stay away from his […]

Updated at 5:00 p.m. with Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo’s response on Twitter

HOUSTON (KXAN) — New records from the City of Houston show that Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo was wrong when he claimed that people from Austin were driving to Houston to participate in violence at protests there.

Houston Police arrested 603 people from May 29 to June 2 and charged them with 1,438 offenses. None had a home address listed in Travis County, according to the Houston Office of Planning & Data Governance after an open records request from KXAN.

On June 3, Acevedo said, “This is the most diverse city in the United States. This isn’t Austin, Texas, where they’re diverse as long as they’re east of 35. This is Houston, Texas. And for the people in Austin who want to tear this s— up, you’re in the wrong f—ing city, let me tell you.”

“I know there’s people here from Austin yelling at me and stuff from Austin. But I’m here to tell you, you ain’t in Austin,” he added, speaking by bullhorn to a group of protesters.

Acevedo served as the police chief in Austin from 2007 until the City of Houston hired him in 2016.

KXAN requested the public records on June 4 but did not get it until this week. We reached out to Chief Art Acevedo by phone and email Monday and then through Twitter Tuesday. At first he and his office did not respond, but he later responded on Twitter, criticizing the KXAN story.

Acevedo said someone from the crowd told him they were from Austin and called him a murderer. He said he was responding to these people because he thought they were trying to incite the crowd while he was in the middle of the protesters. He said his comments were not an indictment of Austin the city, which he served for nearly a decade.

Video of Acevedo’s comments by NBC News investigative reporter Mike Hixenbaugh have been viewed more than 102,000 times.

Acevedo ended that impromptu speech when the protesters asked him why he had chosen not to release police body camera footage from six recent police shootings in Houston.

There are two things of note on the reporting of this story:

There were headlines immediately after the Houston protests about an “Austin man” named Travis Martin III who faced federal charges of civil unrest. Martin lived in Austin for six months from October 2014 until April 2015 but more recent addresses show he lived in Houston at the time of his arrest.

The open records said “unavailable” when listing the amount of people who were arrested with a home address in Travis County. In a follow-up conversation by phone, the Houston Office of Planning & Data Governance explained “unavailable” meant there were zero people arrested whose home address was in Travis County.

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