Some businesses looted, fires set as downtown Austin protests continue into the night


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some businesses in downtown Austin were looted and protesters set fires as demonstrations against the deaths of George Floyd and Mike Ramos continued into the night.

During a turbulent day downtown, protesters made their way onto I-35 twice, shutting down traffic, and police officers shot non-lethal rounds to try to disperse the crowds.

Later in the day, some businesses were damaged. Photos taken by KXAN crews show damage at Private Stock Premium Boutique on East Sixth Street and Lone Star Souvenir and Food Mart on the corner of East Sixth Street and Neches Street.

By 6 a.m. on Sunday, there was no sign of protesters downtown.

(Picture: KXAN/Alex Caprariello)
(Picture: KXAN/Julie Karam)
(Picture: KXAN/Kaitlyn Karmout)

A Shell gas station at the intersection of I-35 and East Seventh Street was also broken into.

The owner of the store told KXAN that he has been in business for 32 years and has never experienced anything like this. The gas station is normally 24/7, but they decided to close last night.

Intruders stole all the cash in the register, scratch-off lottery tickets and all the cigarettes and tobacco products.

Meanwhile, a car parked underneath I-35 was torched and some trash cans were set on fire.

(Picture: KXAN/Tim Holcomb)
(Picture: KXAN/Kaitlyn Karmout)

Arrest numbers indicate that 14 people were arrested on Saturday and a further five on Sunday, APD tweeted.

“A lot of protestors today are not representing equality or peace, peaceful protest,” one of the protesters told a KXAN crew.

“A lot of these people are not realizing that we are not here to antagonize.”

In a tweet, APD said people had thrown various projectiles at officers, including eggs, bricks and Molotov cocktails.

(Picture: KXAN/Alex Caprariello)
(Picture: KXAN/Kaitlyn Karmout)
(Picture: KXAN/Kaitlyn Karmout)

Another protest, a March for Black Lives and Freedom organized by the Austin Justice Coalition, is due to start at the Capitol at 1 p.m.

Organizers have urged people attending not to be violent, and on Saturday released a statement from Brenda Ramos, the mother of Mike, who was shot dead by APD officer Christopher Taylor on April 24.

“I am pleading with the community, please do not commit violence in my son Mike’s name,” Brenda Ramos said. “There will be people of all ages, including children and older folks at the March for Black Lives tomorrow.

“No one should be afraid to come and make their voice heard because of fear of violence. Please do not give the Austin Police Department any excuse to shut down tomorrow’s peaceful rally.”

  • Sign for George Floyd Austin protests
  • Austin protest I-35 May 30 2020
  • Protester near Texas Capitol 5-30-20
  • Austin protests 5-30-20
  • Austin protests 5-30-20
  • Austin protests 5-30-20

As the situation evolved on Saturday, Gov. Greg Abbott sent state resources to Austin and other Texas cities as demonstrations gathered in large numbers.

In a statement, APD Chief Brian Manley said that while officers “appreciate peaceful protest,” violence and destruction of property “will not be tolerated.”

Tensions have flared across the country after Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, sparking riots in some cities.

In a video taken moments before Floyd died, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin can be seen kneeling on his neck. Chauvin has been charged with murder and manslaughter.

Ramos was shot dead following a stand-off with Austin police officers who were responding to a drug-related call.

A search of his car after the shooting found that he was unarmed. Taylor, the officer who filed the lethal shot, is the subject of a criminal investigation, according to his lawyers.

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