Austin: Police Repress People’s Rights to Clear Way for Pro-Police Rally

By Mike Talavera

Last weekend, police arrested 18 people who were counter-protesting a pro-police rally organized by the Wind Therapy Freedom Riders in front of Austin Police Department (APD) Headquarters. Police targeted counter-protest chant leaders and banner holders, repressing the people’s rights to show their anger against the police and their supporters, including known fascists.

Police quickly began pepper spraying counter-protesters who had shown up hours before the planned rally. By arresting those yelling anti-police chants under the pretense of “obstructing a crosswalk,” police were effectively silencing those who were making the crimes of APD known, an act of political repression.

This trampling of people’s rights reached a new level in Austin at the beginning of the month when police attacked a protest congregated at the Garrett Foster memorial downtown while reactionaries watched unmolested from the other side of the street. The night before the pro-police rally, police also arrested several people at the memorial.

This past weekend, protesters were tackled, punched, and slammed to the ground in the brutal style for which APD has become well-known. Meanwhile, police escorted the dozens of bikers as well as fascist Christopher Ritchie of the Texas Nomads, who attended the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Protesters singled out the Nomads, chanting “Richie’s crew is fucking vile! Fascist, racist pedophiles!”

Police continued to arrest protesters as they shook hands and exchanged hugs with the reactionaries. They welcomed the bikers and fascists past the barricades around APD HQ, while in the same breath yelling at protesters to stay back. The police used terror to give fascists a platform, giving this repression a fascist character.

During the repression of the counter-protest, police could be seen stealing property from those they sought to brutalize, including snatching megaphones used for chants, an antifascist flag, and other items used to indicate the pro-people and left-wing character of the event.

The movement for Black Lives is increasingly facing a suspension of its democratic rights. The people have not bowed down to this assault, with protesters on Sunday saving each other from arrest and organizing a jail support for those who were taken in. The type of repression seen in Austin last weekend will not stop the protests, but it does make more militant organizations necessary to take the movement in a more revolutionary direction.

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