Houston News : Texas National Guard activated in response to George Floyd protests

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Kailia Allen, 8, holds a sign during a demonstration for Houston native George Floyd, who died in custody of the Minneapolis police earlier this week, during a rally Saturday, May 30, 2020, at Emancipation Park in Houston.

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Kailia Allen, 8, holds a sign during a demonstration for Houston native George Floyd, who died in custody of the Minneapolis police earlier this week, during a rally Saturday, May 30, 2020, at Emancipation Park

… more

Photo: Godofredo A. Vásquez, Staff Photographer/Houston Chronicle

Photo: Godofredo A. Vásquez, Staff Photographer/Houston Chronicle

Kailia Allen, 8, holds a sign during a demonstration for Houston native George Floyd, who died in custody of the Minneapolis police earlier this week, during a rally Saturday, May 30, 2020, at Emancipation Park in Houston.

less

Kailia Allen, 8, holds a sign during a demonstration for Houston native George Floyd, who died in custody of the Minneapolis police earlier this week, during a rally Saturday, May 30, 2020, at Emancipation Park

… more

Photo: Godofredo A. Vásquez, Staff Photographer/Houston Chronicle

Texas National Guard activated in response to George Floyd protests

The Texas National Guard is being activated in response to protests of George Floyd’s death, one day after initially peaceful demonstrations escalated into widespread confrontations with police and led to eight injured officers and 137 arrests.

“Texans have every right to exercise their first amendment rights, but violence and looting will not be tolerated.” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement Saturday night.

In addition, HPD Police Chief Art Acevedo said his entire department is ready, with all officers alternating 12 hour shifts. Mayor Sylvester Turner activated the city’s Office of Emergency Management, which ensures employees in various offices are prepared to respond. And Gov. Greg Abbott deployed 1,500 Department of Public Safety officers to four Texas cities, including Houston.

Acevedo said many of the provocateurs Friday night were white, unconnected with the demonstrations and possibly from out of town. The department is also monitoring a threat regarding white supremacists planning to come to Houston and “create havoc” on Saturday, according to the chief, though he didn’t offer more details.

The mayor said 80 to 85 percent of the people who ventured downtown Friday did so peacefully, and he thanked them and police officers for showing restraint.

“Let me take this back to where this started, and that was the death of George Floyd. It was what people saw and the actions that led to his death that created a great deal of emotion and frustration,” Turner said. “That quite frankly is where the focus should be… and the actions of a few are causing the focus to come off of George Floyd and his family.”

Floyd, 46, died in Minneapolis police custody Monday night after video showed an officer kneeling on his neck, pinning him to the ground while he pleaded for help. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with murder and manslaughter, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Chauvin and three other officers at the scene were fired earlier this week.

Floyd’s classmates from Yates High School held a peaceful march and vigil Saturday morning in the Third Ward, and another vigil was scheduled in Emancipation Park for 6 p.m. Acevedo said the latter event was planned peacefully as well, though he said it remains possible that other groups come in and cause disruptions.

The mobilization comes after initially peaceful demonstrations in downtown Houston boiled over Friday night, leading police to effectively shut off downtown as protesters obstructed highways, hurled objects at officers and destroyed police cars. At least one store — Verizon on Main Street — was reported looted. Its storefront was boarded up Saturday afternoon, along with a nearby CVS and restaurant.

Acevedo said eight officers were injured — mostly suffering head injuries, or with glass shards in their face from thrown objects — and all had been released from the hospital by Saturday afternoon. One was attacked with a crowbar, spokesman John Cannon said, and another attacked with a two-by-four.

The chief said he had also ordered an administrative review of a video circulating online that shows a mounted officer knocking over a woman holding a sign. He said the officer appears to be looking straight ahead and noted that they were “taking rocks” at the time.

“It appears it might have been unintentional,” he said.

Other protesters appeared injured, though details were scant on their conditions. The chief didn’t have any information about injured protesters.

Police also maintained that they did not use tear gas Friday night, contrary to media reports. Officers did use pepper spray, Cannon said, on five occasions to try to keep people off freeways.

The total damage from the protests wasn’t yet known, Acevedo said. A total of 16 cruisers were defaced or damaged, and the department is working on a report about damage to downtown businesses.

The 137 people arrested were charged with various crimes, Acevedo said. The majority — 102 people — are facing charges of obstructing a roadway. Other charges include interference of public duties (13); evading arrest (7); criminal mischief (5); assault on a peace officer (3); resisting arrest (3); burglary of a building (1); aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (1); failure to identify (1); and retaliation (1).

At Saturday morning’s march, Acevedo again urged protesters not to let people hijack their cause or movement by damaging the city.

“I saw people that didn’t look like you and me last night, downtown in the middle of the night, tearing (expletive) up,” Acevedo told the participants. “And you know why? They don’t want to talk about George Floyd and how he died when he didn’t have to. They want to talk about how black and brown people tearing stuff up. They want to hijack the legitimacy of the grievances.”





Houston Forum

Source : chron.com