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Texas organizers say local police did not protect protesters

9 months 2 weeks 1 day ago Monday, July 27 2020 Jul 27, 2020 July 27, 2020 7:25 PM July 27, 2020 in News - AP Texas Headlines

WEATHERFORD, Texas (AP) — Community leaders say local law enforcement in Texas did not protect protesters from opposing groups after weekend rallies turned violent.

Local law enforcement disbanded a protest in Weatherford over the removal of a Confederate monument, saying it was unlawful after a confrontation with counter-protesters. But organizer Tony Crawford, of Parker County Progressives, said police did not seem to know what to do and failed to protect the protesters.

Crawford's group and Fort Worth-based Enough is Enough coordinated the protest on Saturday that supported removal of the statue. The groups had planned to march from a city park to the Parker County Courthouse. But they were met with hundreds of counter-protesters who thought the statue would be damaged.

Some in the crowd carried Confederate flags, yelled racial slurs and threw water bottles, Crawford said.

“It got to a point where I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to get everybody out of there safely,” Crawford said. “We don’t want to touch that statue because anything that happens to that statue is going to get blamed on me.”

Jim Webster, a former Parker County commissioner, was among the counter-protesters. He said citizens stood up to bullies that came to take down their statue.

Videos show a counter-protester punching a protester in the head. Others show a counter-protester brandishing a knife and a man charging into protesters.

Parker County Judge Pat Deen said two people were arrested. Weatherford police did not immediately respond to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's request for comment on Sunday.

Deen said there aren’t plans to put the statue on the county’s agenda because the Daughters of the Confederacy, who own it, want it moved but can't afford it.

On Sunday, a Portland Protest Rally and a Back the Blue Rally in Tyler turned violent. Democratic congressional candidate Hank Gilbert of Tyler held the original rally, while a Back the Blue Rally started later on the downtown square.

One person was choked, a woman said she was punched and Gilbert's campaign manager Ryan Miller was cut on the face. Supporters of Gilbert's opponent, Congressman Louie Gohmert, brutally beat and assaulted Miller, according to Gilbert's campaign staff's Sunday press release.

But supporters of President Donald Trump said they were provoked.

Tyler Police took statements from protesters, but Gilbert said that was not enough.

“The Tyler police were idly driving around the square in their patrol cars, and waving at the counter-protesters who were heavily armed,” Gilbert said.

Andy Erbaugh, the department’s public information officer, said officers responded quickly and no arrests were made.

Gilbert is calling on Governor Greg Abbott and the city of Tyler to investigate the Tyler Police Department.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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