Protests continue in downtown Austin, despite cancellation from organizer
AUSTIN, Texas - Protests continued across the country over the weekend including in downtown Austin.
All weekend and into the early hours this morning, protesters demanded justice for George Floyd, Mike Ramos, and other victims of police violence.
Despite the Austin Justice Coalition's original demonstration being canceled, thousands still gathered at the State Capitol, Austin City Hall, Austin Police Department headquarters, and along I-35.
Drivers were asked to avoid those areas and the crowd fluctuated in size for hours.
Most of the protests were peaceful but some did get intense at times. There were reports of looting and vandalism and a portion of I-35 was shut down for a period of time.
The Austin Police Department confirmed that it did deploy smoke and CS gas to move demonstrators off of I-35.
While reporting near APD headquarters, FOX 7 Austin's Kacey Bowen and her photographer were downwind and affected by the gas while reporting.
The protests between the State Capitol and the Governor's Mansion were different than what was seen in other parts of the city. There was a lot of chanting and demonstrators that were there say it was a peaceful protest and they were wanting it to stay that way.
The Austin Justice Coalition had announced early on Sunday, May 31 that a planned protest at the Texas State Capitol was canceled. The racial justice group decided to cancel the event due to safety concerns.
"We are very sorry we have to cancel today’s event. The safety of black lives is always our main concern and we cannot in our right mind send people out in the current climate," the Austin Justice Coalition said in a statement on Facebook. "We truly appreciate all the support from everyone over the last few days. If you donated to today’s cause and would like a refund feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com."
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Although the organizers had announced the protest was canceled, protesters still flocked to the Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin.
People have been gathering in major cities across the United States to protest the death of George Floyd. Floyd was an unarmed black man who died after Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, knelt on his neck for an extended period of time. Chauvin has since been charged with third-degree murder.
Thousands of people had gathered in front of APD’s headquarters in downtown Austin on Saturday, May 30 for a peaceful protest. The protesters marched from APD's headquarters to the Texas State Capitol and back. People also began making their way onto I-35, blocking traffic and causing major traffic delays.
It also led to service disruptions for CapMetro.
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Throughout Saturday, officers used pepper spray and what appeared to be rubber bullets to control the crowds of protesters. Protesters threw water and other objects at the police officers.
As the night progressed, a car was set on fire. A mattress from a transient camp nearby as well as the dumpster for the Gulf gas station near APD headquarters.
Read more about the national outcry following George Floyd's death.