Protests over police violence took place Sunday despite the formal cancellation of the event. Protesters shut down I-35, and police used tear gas and rubber bullets.
Late in the afternoon, Michael Ramos' mother, Brenda, spoke at a press conference outside her apartment complex.
"Why is Officer [Christopher] Taylor still drawing a paycheck from us, the citizens of Austin?" she asked, pulling down her mask so she could speak. "Why are we paying his salary when he murdered my son over a month ago and he murdered someone else's son over 10 months ago? Why isn't he in jail?"
Despite the formal cancelation of Sunday's protest at the Texas State Capitol, hundreds of people gathered along 11th Street and marched to Austin City Hall and back. Some shut down I-35 for the second day in a row, and Austin police used tear gas and beanbag rounds in an effort to move people off the roadway.
Tear gas and rubber bullets get shot to disperse crowd from highway. https://t.co/ffchePzSKV— Thee Environmental Reportréss (@Thee Environmental Reportréss) 1590959385.0
The police form a line on Cesar Chavez, stopping demonstrators marching from City Hall.s3.amazonaws.com
Police allow protestors to turn north on San Antonio toward Republic Square.s3.amazonaws.com
Update 5/31 11:21 a.m.:
Chas Moore, executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition, announced on Facebook live that the organization would cancel the protest planned for Sunday at the Texas State Capitol.
"We are supposed to be out demonstrating, peacefully protesting the need for safety and for freedom and liberation for black people," Moore said. "And when I look at what's going on in Austin, when I look at the mess that happened last night, I look at white people burning stuff up in the name of Black Lives Matter and there's little to no black lives at these events."
Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency on Sunday in response to the protests.
Update 5/31 11:10 a.m.
Another protest is planned for the Texas State Capitol grounds on Sunday, with organizers calling for peaceful demonstrations.
Austin Police Department officers will be working 12-hour shifts for the indefinite future, the CBS Austin reports, and all have been called into work.
Mayor Steve Adler said in an emailed statement sent Sunday morning that he would not attend the protest. "I want to stand with others to recognize that only a 'just' city is a safe one," he wrote. "I also know that especially large gatherings still present great risk of spreading the virus in ways that would be hard to tract, isolate and control."
Update 5/30 11:28 p.m.
Target said it would temporarily close some stores nationwide, including at least three in Austin.
The protest started with hundreds outside the Austin police headquarters, moved to the highway and grew even larger as it made its way to the Texas State Capitol.
#austin #MikeRamos Hundreds more protestors coming from the west on 8th street. https://t.co/RojNptRldx— austonia (@austonia) 1590864321.0
#austin #MikeRamos Clearing damp w horses https://t.co/YmGcau2ut2— austonia (@austonia) 1590863203.0
Crowd@moving south I35 both lanes. Southbound lane clear of cars Northbound cars slowly moving https://t.co/SPk0TRudTl— austonia (@austonia) 1590861555.0
It is not the first protest of the weekend, nor will it be the last.
Police in Austin made several arrests at a protest that took place last night and early this morning outside Austin Police Department headquarters downtown, KXAN reports.
Gov. Greg Abbott, who yesterday said the Floyd killing was "horrific" and "a consequence of poor police work," announced today he had spoke to the mayors of major cities in Texas—including Austin—and had "sent state resources" to help manage protests.
Another protest is planned tomorrow at the Texas State Capitol.
Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore announced last night that the office will convene a special grand jury to consider the Ramos case.
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By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.