More than 1,500 Texas troopers sent to respond to protests
HOUSTON (AP) — More than 1,500 Texas state troopers were sent Saturday to various cities by Gov. Greg Abbott to help control protests over the death of Houston native George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
“Texas and America mourn the senseless loss of George Floyd and the actions that led to his death are reprehensible and should be condemned in the strongest terms possible,” Abbott said in a news release. “As Texans exercise their First Amendment rights, it is imperative that order is maintained and private property is protected.”
The troopers were being sent to Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, the governor said.
In Austin, hundreds of people gathered outside police headquarters and many later marched peacefully along Interstate 35 as police shut down the interstate to traffic.
The rally was for both Floyd and Michael Ramos, a 42-year-old man who was fatally shot last month by Austin police.
In a statement to Austin media Ramos’ mother, Brenda Ramos, issued a plea for calm.
“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,” the statement said.
In Houston, Police Chief Art Acevedo said nearly 200 people were arrested Friday during a protest in which many blocked an Interstate 45 ramp and a highway.
Those arrested “participated in unlawful assemblies,” Acevedo said Saturday on Twitter. “Most will be charged with obstructing a roadway,”
Protesters also blocked a Dallas interstate and one officer suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said on Twitter.
Authorities in both cities used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse crowds that numbered in the hundreds. Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall said officers were making sure the protest was peaceful when violence began.
“Then all of a sudden bricks start hailing, hitting our squad cars, hitting the officers ... I almost got hit with a brick,” Hall said.
It was not clear how many were arrested in Dallas and police did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Saturday.
Protests have spread across the U.S., fueled by outrage over Floyd’s death. On Friday, the white Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck was arrested and charged with murder.
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