UPDATE 3:15 p.m.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Demonstrations in downtown Austin have moved back toward Interstate 35, closing lanes on both sides of the interstate near 12th Street to Sixth Street Sunday afternoon.
Protests shut down I-35 twice on Saturday afternoon during the demonstrations, snarling traffic on the north and southbound sides. It appears some traffic on the northbound side of I-35 is still able pass through the area.
The Texas Department of Transportation is asking drivers to avoid the downtown area, if possible.
Throughout the weekend, protesters have marched through several areas of downtown Austin, including the Texas State Capitol, Austin Police Department headquarters and Austin City Hall.
UPDATE 2:30 p.m.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Following protests in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, Governor Greg Abbott declared a State of Disaster for all of Texas Sunday.
Gov. Abbott ordered thousands more troopers and more than one thousand National Guard to assist the Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement in those cities.
“Every Texan and every American has the right to protest and I encourage all Texans to exercise their First Amendment rights,” said Gov. Abbott.
“However, violence against others and the destruction of property is unacceptable and counterproductive. As protests have turned violent in various areas across the state, it is crucial that we maintain order, uphold public safety, and protect against property damage or loss.
“By authorizing additional federal agents to serve as Texas Peace Officers we will help protect people’s safety while ensuring that peaceful protesters can continue to make their voices heard.”
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Hundreds of protesters gathered at the state capitol Sunday to continue protesting against police brutality despite the official organizers, the Austin Justice Coalition, cancelling the event.
Chas Moore, the executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition, told KXAN that due to protesters “possibly hijacking this event, we could not assure the safety of black folks.”
“White people have colonized the black anger and the black movement in this particular time frame and have used black pain and black outrage to just completely become anarchists in this moment. What we’ve seen in Minneapolis and Atlanta is completely different because those have been black-led uprisings,” said Moore.
“But here in Austin if you look at what happened yesterday, it was predominately white people doing what they want to do and there’s not way with good mind and with a good conscience that we can have this event today because there’s no way possible for us to ensure the safety of black folk.”
Sunday’s peaceful protest was to be called “Justice For them All.” It was organized in memory of Mike Ramos – whose mother Brenda was due to take part – as well as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others killed by police.
Mike Ramos was killed when Austin police officers responded to a 9-1-1 call last month in southeast Austin. The caller told a dispatcher about seeing a man waving a gun and a couple doing drugs in a car.
APD says Ramos didn’t comply with officer commands once they got there and then tried to drive off before he was shot and killed. Police Chief Brian Manley later confirmed that investigators did not find a gun in the car Ramos had been in. A criminal investigation is underway. On Friday, the Travis County District Attorney said she would present the case to a special grand jury.
Mike Ramos’ mother Brenda earlier made a plea to the community asking for a peaceful protest.
“I am heartbroken over the terrible murder of George Floyd. I understand the anger. But I am pleading with the community, please do not commit violence in my son Mike’s name,” she said in her statement.
She went on to ask the community not to give police any excuse to shut down the rally and invited people to join her in “peaceful solidarity” to help get justice for her son.