On the same day the city settled the largest excessive force lawsuit in city history, an Austin grand jury announced at least 19 indictments for Austin police officers who injured protestors with "less-lethal" bean bag rounds in 2020's George Floyd protests.
Grand jurors considered charges against a growing number of up to 21 APD officers who were involved in a dozen excessive force cases that resulted in 30 injured protestors at the 2020 protests. Six of the twelve who were injured suffered head injuries due to bean bag munitions, and many claimed to be innocent bystanders when they were shot by officers.
With 19 indictments, Austin is likely to have the most excessive force charges of any U.S. city in the wake of the protests.
"There cannot be trust if there is no accountability when someone breaks the law," District Attorney Jose Garza said in a Friday morning press conference.
Investigations will continue for the 19 officers who were indicted.
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Austin FC forward Cecilio Dominguez was reinstated to the Verde roster after a monthlong suspension Wednesday, but the star player was far from the pitch as the club's two fan clubs fell into an uncharacteristic moment of silence at the Sunday match.
The team's two fan clubs halted their signature chants in response to Dominguez's return to the club after the league investigated an Austin police call alleging Dominguez's "verbal and emotional abuse" toward his ex-partner in early April. APD did not continue the investigation, and Dominguez's ex-partner did not pursue any charges.
But both fan clubs Austin Anthem and Los Verdes, as well as supporters' band La Murga de Austin, have made it clear that many do not want to see Dominguez back on the pitch
Each group issued statements condemning further involvement with Dominguez, especially after news broke of since-dropped domestic violence charges in 2016 while the player was in Paraguay.
According to a founding member of the new Verdes Against Domestic Violence Committee, who did not want to be named due to the sensitive subject, Los Verdes members voted on each decision that the group has made so far.
"You're never going to get unanimous agreement, (but)... the majority of members that voted chose to do the 10 minutes of silence," the source told Austonia.
The decision has seen plenty of backlash, even within the supporters' group ranks. Some have pointed to the absence of physical abuse in the APD call and Dominguez's ex-partner, who has stated she does not want the player to lose his position.
S9me people didn't want to be silent over nothing. Please understand the supporter groups are not affiliated with the club offially and do not speak for the fan base a whole. Some people aren't into freaking out over an investigation that warranted nothing!
— Austin FC Review (@AustinFCreview) May 9, 2022
Others have said the group's public statements represent performative activism.
Hated it. I understand what they were doing and it’s a great cause but it shouldn’t be done like that. Also, I hate that they’re doing it in spit of Cecilio when he hasn’t even been found guilty of anything yet. Innocent until proven guilty.
— Gage Boles (@gage_boles18) May 9, 2022
But the founding member said that many fan club members are victims of abuse themselves and say verbal and emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical.
And the group has turned the situation into a way to protect domestic violence victims in the community. During the 10-minute silence (representing Dominguez's jersey number), fans held up banners for SAFE Alliance Austin's domestic violence hotline and a Verde and Black banner demanding "No more silence."
Here are the banners held up by @LaMurgaATX@LosVerdesATX@AustinAnthem during the 10-minute pause in the first half. #AustinFC#ATXvLA@SAFEatx
— Chris Bils (@ChrisBils) May 9, 2022
"Hopefully (head coach Josh Wolff) will see coverage about our moment of silence in the game," the source said. "That's all we can do is use our voices, or the absence of our voices, to create an impact and that's what we're doing."
Meanwhile, Wolff said Dominguez has been reinstated by the league and that he did not notice the silence during the LA Galaxy game. Wolff said he'll put his focus on Dominguez's onfield performance as he gets back into game day shape.
"We've talked about it, and I appreciate all of our fans' support and their interest in our team," Wolff said. "I try to do everything I can to focus on the game and focus on preparing this team, and that's kind of where I'll go in this direction.... what happens in our stands and at our stadium is obviously important to all of us as a staff and organization."
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Are your social feeds getting dry? Rest assured, there’s a new selfie museum in town to help boost your Instagram game.
The Original Selfie Museum opened its eighth location in Austin, 503 Neches St., just over a month ago dubbed Texas Selfie Museum. The company opened a San Antonio location in September.
With more than 30 photo zones, designed personally by the owners, professional lighting and props to choose from, it’s next to impossible to walk away without an Instagrammable shot. Just add a photographer!
The best part? The company—which was formed when Ukrainian immigrants Margaryta Schwery, Alex Kurylim and Igor Bemchak met during college in Colorado—is donating 100% of the proceeds for annual passes to support Ukrainian war efforts.
“Coming into this country gave us an incredible opportunity to have the self-realization of doing what we love—the potential is endless, the possibilities are endless and we are just grateful,” Schwery told Austonia. “We're also grateful for the way we were raised and for the country that we were born in… we definitely want to give back and support in any way possible.”
Visitors can come in for $28 each on a day pass or $68 for an annual pass that will allow the holder access to any location, skip reservations and donate to help a cause that is close to the owners’ hearts.