100% Austin news, info, and entertainment, straight to your inbox at 6 a.m. every morning.
In five minutes, you're fully informed and ready to start another great day in our city.
Austin police and city leaders say they are preparing for November protests as the city steels itself for an election that has wrought tension at the highest levels of national government.
The election, which President Donald Trump has warned will be "rigged" and said the outcome may not be clear for "months," comes after a summer marked by near-daily demonstrations, both in downtown Austin and across the nation, over civil rights and police brutality.
Nearly two dozen people were hospitalized in late May after clashes with Austin police, whose use of bean bag rounds during protests resulted in sweeping changes ordered by the Austin City Council and a ban on the use of less-lethal weapons against demonstrators.
In July, demonstrator Garrett Foster was shot by a man who said he was unconnected to protests but driving for Uber in the area when his car was attacked by protesters. Daniel Perry, an active duty sergeant with the U.S. Army in Killeen, said he shot Foster in self defense. Charges have not been filed.
A tense memorial for him brought clashes between those who thought Perry was there to cause trouble, and those who believed Foster threatened him—with both sides heavily armed, including armed members of the Proud Boys militia, an extremist right-wing group that has made national headlines recently.
Police said this week that they are getting ready for the protests but declined to specify what their plans will include. An emailed statement suggested that officials are planning for potential unrest beyond the peaceful atmosphere seen in the majority of protests through the last several months.
"The Austin Police Department will plan and prepare for any large protest or civil unrest events related to the upcoming elections," said police spokesperson Tara Long, in a statement emailed to Austonia. "The goal of such preparations is to ensure the safety of the community, while protecting the rights of people to peacefully exercise their First Amendment Rights."
Demonstrations a way of life in Austin
In 2016, on the day after the November election between Trump and Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, demonstrators marched in Austin to protest the fact that Trump had won the election in spite of the fact that Clinton had won the popular vote.
On the day after Trump's January 2017 inauguration, tens of thousands descended on downtown Austin to show solidarity during the Women's March on Washington.
"Austin has a storied history of large-scale peaceful protests when election results have offended our community's sensibilities," said City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, chairman of the Council's Committee on Public Safety.
Home to the state Capitol, Austin has played host to countless demonstrations throughout the years.
Local and statewide groups have demonstrated on myriad issues including immigration laws, gun control, or demanded higher pay for teachers or the legalization of marijuana or the protection of a woman's right to choose abortion.
"As a state capital city, we are always prepared and continuously improving our process for peaceful protest," Flannigan said.
Flannigan said he doesn't anticipate any voting issues on Election Day that might cause clashes at the polls, saying that elections in Williamson and Travis counties, parts of both of which fall within his district, have worked hard to accommodate voters with little incident.
Even with the recent national tensions over masks and potentially thousands of partisan poll watchers at voting sites, he and others said they don't anticipate clashes on a local level over those issues.
"Austin has a long history of safe and fair elections, and I have no doubt that Austinites of all political perspectives are eager to vote and will do so responsibly and safely, wearing their masks and taking the necessary precautions," Flannigan said.
He and others noted, however, that the potential for unrest after the election is fairly high—given the likelihood that the presidential election may not be over on Election Night.
The appetite for protest in Austin certainly hasn't abated in recent weeks, with groups from all parts of the political spectrum planning protests over voting sites, masks and other issues.
PROTESTS MUST HAPPEN NOW. Gov Abbott reduces drop boxes to one per county. Harris County has 4.2 million people. VO… https://t.co/LKm3iOgYjc— Helen Armstrong (@Helen Armstrong)1602040887.0
Austin City Council Member Greg Casar, one of the council's loudest voices for police reform in the wake of the protests, called on Austinites to "continue to raise our voices, exercise our rights, and keep holding officials accountable" after votes are cast.
"APD, by their own admission, needlessly harmed peaceful protesters this summer, including hurting medics and nearly killing two teenagers, and the entire City Council has made it clear that this is not acceptable," Casar said in a statement to Austonia. "We remain committed to protecting all people's First Amendment rights, and we remain committed to safety for our city employees as well as everyday residents. I will continue to fight for policies that protect Austinites' health, safety, and right to protest, no matter the election results."
Asked whether downtown businesses were taking any actions in anticipation of rowdy protests, the Downtown Austin Alliance released a statement that did not detail any plans but supported the notion of civic engagement—noting that demonstrations on the Capitol steps and along Congress Avenue are a way of life in Austin and "a foundation of our democracy."
"For the past several months, there have been peaceful protests and demonstrations almost every day downtown," the statement said. "As stewards of downtown, we remain focused on ensuring that downtown is a vibrant and welcoming place for all who want to engage civically."
Want to read more stories like this one? Start every day with a quick look at what's happening in Austin. Sign up for Austonia.com's free daily morning email.
- Austin protesters clash with police after Garrett Foster's death ... ›
- Protesters injured by Austin police bean bag rounds - austonia ›
- Several arrested in Austin during downtown protest for Breonna Taylor ›
- Two days of protest: demonstrators shut down I-35, Austin police ... ›
- Protests over police killings planned for Austin this weekend ... ›
- Organizers cancel Sunday protest in Austin - austonia ›
- Gov. Abbott dispatches National Guard to Austin amid election - austonia ›
- Anti-Adler protesters host pro-Trump parade around Austin - austonia ›
- LIVE UPDATES: No lines at many East Austin voting sites on Election Day morning - austonia ›
- Downtown Austin boards up for election night protests - austonia ›
- Early voting results: Austin City Council - austonia ›
- Austin progressives protest to continue activism after election - austonia ›
- Protest recap: Austinites rally after election results - austonia ›
- Austin starts de-boarding a week after Election Day - austonia ›
- Austin politicians disavow Trump mob storming U.S. Capitol - austonia ›
- Austin police, businesses prep for Inauguration Day protests - austonia ›
- Armed protesters gather at state Capitol over the weekend - austonia ›
Something about Q2 Stadium brings the best out of goalkeepers.
Much like Austin FC's Brad Stuver has done throughout the season, U.S. men's national team keeper Matt Turner kept his team alive in a 1-0 victory over Qatar. The match proved to be a battle of stamina as USMNT's Gyasi Zardes netted a last-minute goal to push Team USA to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
Turner, who has conceded just one goal throughout the tournament, continually tipped off shots by an offensively-minded Qatar and put up three saves. Turner now has 18 saves in the Cup.
🧤🧤 Matt Turner was on 🔥 in goal for the #USMNT!
This magnificent save was the Save Of The Game presented by @Allstate #ThisIsOurs #GoldCup21 🏆 pic.twitter.com/MzUScTLNJU
— Gold Cup (@GoldCup) July 30, 2021
The USMNT stumbled through the first half, falling to a 10-shot deficit in the first 45 minutes. Qatar, which gained quick acclaim as the 2019 Asian Cup winners, has not gone scoreless throughout the tournament and has tallied the most goals in the Gold Cup so far.
Qatar saw their biggest shot to topple the U.S. team in the 61st minute after they were awarded a penalty kick. Turner never had to make a save, however, as Hassan Al Haydos missed the crucial shot.
Team USA regrouped and took the reins of the second half, but it was two substitutions by USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter that advanced the team to the continental final.
The two second-half subs, Gyasi Zardes and Nicholas Gioacchini, proved to be the perfect mix for Team USA. As the final whistle loomed, Gioacchini set Zardes up for the first goal of the game in the 86th minute of play.
⚽ The finish ✅
🎥 The camera ✅
🔥 The atmosphere ✅
A perfect goal 🇺🇸🙌#GoldCup21 🏆 #ThisIsOurs pic.twitter.com/KGcpz8aZOR
— Gold Cup (@GoldCup) July 30, 2021
But Zardes wouldn't take credit for the game-changing goal.
"It's not just me, it's a whole team effort," Zardes told FS1. "It was a tight game, they're a great team, but our starters did a phenomenal job at wearing them out... and trying to create opportunities to where when the subs came in, we were able to make a difference."
An outmatched Qatar wasn't able to gain ground as the final tally went 1-0 to the U.S. in Q2 Stadium.
While some were concerned at stadium turnout before the match began, the stadium slowly swelled to near capacity as usual in Austin. Berhalter, whose son Sebastian Berhalter is a midfielder at Austin FC, has previously shown admiration for the MLS' newest stadium.
The USMNT is in Austin for the first time tonight.
After watching his son Sebastian play in the Austin FC home opener, HC Gregg Berhalter is hoping for a similar atmosphere at Q2.
"It's one of the top atmospheres in Major League Soccer." | @KVUE pic.twitter.com/Il4xJ76jvZ
— Jake García (@Jake_M_Garcia) July 29, 2021
This was the second national team match held in Austin in under a month after the women's national team christened the pitch in June.
Next up, Team USA will play the winners of the Mexico vs. Canada semifinal, which takes place at 9 p.m. Thursday, in the Gold Cup final. The final round of the continent's biggest tournament will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in Las Vegas.
- Here's all the local eats Austin FC is bringing to Q2 Stadium - austonia ›
- Guide to Austin FC home game at Q2 Stadium this Saturday - austonia ›
- Q2 Stadium under Stage 4: could COVID hinder the 'biggest party ... ›
- What's happened at the Gold Cup so far - austonia ›
- Q2 Stadium to host international teams in the Concacaf Gold Cup ... ›
- Q2 Stadium to host international teams in the Concacaf Gold Cup ... ›
- US vs. MEX? A how-to guide on the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Austin ... ›
- Guide to the Gold Cup CONCACAF semifinal match in Austin ... ›
- 1 1/12 oz sweet pepper-infused Tito's Handmade Vodka
- 3 oz soda water
- 1 oz grapefruit juice
- 1/2 oz lime juice
- 1/4 oz simple syrup
The Biden administration is asking cities and states to use pandemic relief funds to pay residents $100 to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reaffirmed prohibitions on pandemic protocols in a new executive order issued on Thursday.
The order emphasizes that "the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates," according to a press release. It outlaws government entities from requiring employees to be vaccinated or individuals to provide proof of vaccination and upholds previous orders restricting government entities' ability to impose pandemic protocols.
Local public health and elected officials have asked all Austinites to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, and unvaccinated individuals to avoid nonessential trips last week given the rising number of local confirmed cases and related hospitalizations in recent weeks. But it is not enforceable under Abbott's order.
The seven-day moving average of new hospital admissions in the five-county Austin metro has more than quintupled since the beginning of July and is now 47.4. The threshold for Stage 5 is 50, according to Austin Public Health's risk-based guidelines.
Despite these trends, Abbott stands firm in his commitment to avoid new statewide mandates and to prohibit local government entities from issuing any of their own.
"Texans have mastered the safe practices that help to prevent and avoid the spread of COVID-19," he said in a statement. "They have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses and engage in leisure activities."
Public health officials have attributed the current spike to the more contagious Delta variant and unmitigated spread among unvaccinated individuals. Abbott encouraged Texans to get vaccinated if they haven't already but affirmed that it would never be required by the state in his statement.
An increasing number of Austin-area employers—including Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health, Facebook and the Department of Veterans Affairs—have announced new vaccine requirements in recent days. Austin Mayor Steve Adler asked the city manager to enact a similar requirement on Wednesday, but the city is unable to do so due to an executive order issued by Abbott in April.
- Delta variant, unvaccinated fuel rise of Austin COVID cases - austonia ›
- Gov. Greg Abbott said he won't reinstate mask mandates - austonia ›
- Texas Dems to Abbott: Allow masks, virtual learning at school ... ›