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Garrett Foster, 28, was shot and killed by someone in a car on Saturday while attending a protest in downtown Austin. Earlier in the evening, he was interviewed on a livestream while wearing an AK-47 across his chest.
Here is what else we know about the incident so far.
What do we know about Garrett Foster?
Foster had attended the ongoing protests regularly with his fiancée Whitney Mitchell, a quadruple-amputee, with whom he purchased a home in Austin two years ago, his mother, Sheila, told Good Morning America.
Mitchell's mother, Patricia Kirven, organized a GoFundMe to pay for Foster's funeral and burial costs. It raised more than $107,000.
"He fought against injustice, served in the military and was fiercely protective of his fiancée," Kirven wrote on the fundraising page. "They fell in love at 17 and were never apart."
Foster left the military to take care of Mitchell when she became sick with an unknown illness, which led to her amputations, Kirven told the Dallas Morning News. Foster had served as her full-time caretaker for nearly a decade.
Was he armed?
Foster was carrying an AK-47 at the protest.
Earlier in the evening, he spoke about the weapon to an independent journalist named Hiram Gilberto Garcia, who has been broadcasting live footage from the Austin protests. "They don't let us march in the streets anymore, so I got to practice some of our rights," Foster said in the interview, which was streamed on Periscope.
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday tweeted a link to Garcia's video interview with Foster on Sunday. "This is the guy that lost his life last night," he wrote. "He was looking for confrontation and he found it."
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said at a press conference on Sunday that the driver who shot and killed Foster told dispatchers that Foster approached his window and pointed a rifle at him.
But some witnesses dispute this account. James Sasinowski told CNN that the driver aggressively drove into the crowd of protestors and incited the violence..
What is the status of the investigation?
APD is actively investigating Foster's death, Manley said on Sunday, including reviewing available video, photos and witness statements. The Travis County Medical Examiner's office will conduct an autopsy.
Texas has a fairly broad stand-your-ground law, which doesn't require individuals to retreat when defending their home or other property.
Who organized the protest?
The Mike Ramos Brigade has organized regular protests against police violence and white supremacy in Austin.
The group's members have not identified themselves, but APD confirmed last month that there is crossover between the brigade and another controversial local group called Defend Our Hoodz, which organized a rent strike and May Day protests earlier this year.
Mike Ramos was shot and killed by Austin police in April. His mother, Brenda, has said her family is not associated with the Mike Ramos Brigade.
What are local officials saying about Foster?
Austin Mayor Steve Adler tweeted on Sunday, "This is horrible as is all gun violence. There are too many guns."
Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison criticized the police response to Foster's death, including a Sunday press conference in which Manley spoke about rising violent crime in Austin and staffing shortages.
Council is in the middle of budget deliberations about whether to cut APD funding and staffing. Last week, hundreds of residents called into a meeting to urge council to cut more than the $11 million currently proposed.
My thoughts on the death of Garrett Foster and our police chief's Sunday evening press conference: https://t.co/eCINuRkWis— Natasha Harper-Madison (@Natasha Harper-Madison)1595881258.0
"Whether we halve APD's budget or double it, nothing will bring back Garrett Foster," she wrote in a Facebook post on Monday, "and using a press conference about his death as a platform for political purposes is beneath contempt."
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With more research done on the COVID-19 Delta variant, Austin Public Health is upping its goal of 70% vaccinated to at least 80% due to the extreme virality of the strain.
As more Delta cases are identified—up to 29 cases are confirmed in Travis County—health officials are urging the unvaccinated to get their shots to contain the spread and relieve hospitals from reaching full capacity.
Austin-Travis County surpassed the Stage 5 threshold on Friday and has reached a seven-day average of 61 hospital admissions. However, Austin health leaders have yet to make an official shift as the Delta variant calls for new guidance, APH Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said at a joint Travis County Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday morning.
The new guidance has yet to be released, but Walkes said it will take into account the viral load of Delta on both unvaccinated and vaccinated people.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the Delta variant was as contagious as chickenpox, which has a herd immunity threshold of at least 90% vaccinated.
Although 63.42% of those eligible in Travis County are fully vaccinated, breakthrough cases—where vaccinated people are contracting COVID-19—are being identified. APH has identified 1,496 breakthrough cases of the roughly 800,000 vaccinated. Most breakthrough cases are showing less severe symptoms or are asymptomatic, according to APH.
Health officials are still asking residents to wear masks, although the city cannot mandate any masking orders due to an executive order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
"Our challenge is going to be whether we're going to stand as a community and everyone who can get vaccinated, get vaccinated, and everyone wear a mask—that's what it's going to take," Walkes said.
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Save Austin Now police petition will reach November ballot after county clerk certifies 25,000 signatures
Save Austin Now is now 2-0 over Austin City Council after its petition to add more staffed police officers to the Austin Police Department was certified, garnering over the 20,000 votes needed to make it on an election ballot.
The petition calls for more police staffing per city resident, quicker response times and more training for city police officers in the wake of increasing violent crime rates nationwide and a year of limited APD staffing. The City Council will now decide whether to implement the ordinance outright or add it to the November election ballot; it will likely do the latter.
Over 25,000 of the 27,778 signatures racked up by the public safety petition were certified as valid, well over the 20,000-vote threshold required to be certified with the City Clerk. City Clerk Jannette Goodall placed the city's seal of approval on the petition on Tuesday morning.
The petition, by the same political group that got the camping ban reinstated through a petition in May, seeks to:
- Require minimum staffing of two officers per 1,000 residents
- Require a minimum standard of 35% community response time
- Add 40 hours of training
- Require city council members, Mayor Steve Adler and other city staff to enroll in the Citizens Police Academy
- Facilitate minority officer hiring through foreign language proficiency metrics
Austin's 160 patrol vacancies have dropped its staffing rate to 1.2 officers per 1,000 residents, according to the department. APD's response time has increased by about one minute and 50 seconds in a year.
The petition comes nearly a year after APD's budgets were slashed by city council following the summer's Black Lives Matter protests, which saw several demonstrators severely injured as millions called for justice in the police-related deaths of George Floyd and locally Mike Ramos, an unarmed Black man killed by APD officer Christopher Taylor, in April 2020.
Austin and the U.S. have experienced a widespread uptick in violent crime rates in 2021. The city has reached 49 homicides in 2021, higher than the total number of murders in all of 2020 and the 38 homicides in the city in 2019. Austin police officers have seen response times rise as the department suffers increased vacancies and fewer newcomers while cadet classes are being readjusted.
Opponents argue the ordinance would ramp up a policing budget while taking away from other departments including Fire, EMS, violence prevention, and mental health care. City Council Member Greg Casar, the Travis County Democratic Party and the Austin Justice Coalition have spoken out against the organization's latest public safety move, calling out the campaign as a "right-wing petition" that misleads those who sign.
🔥 PANTS ON FIRE: Republican-front group Save Austin Now is lying about their petition!
They say their measure is about police reform, when it's really about devastating our city budget - all for the benefit of the police union. Watch the video here ⬇️ #ATX pic.twitter.com/Z6QQSfhHfH
— Gregorio Casar (@GregCasar) August 2, 2021
The latest battle between city council and Save Austin Now will be decided by Austin residents in the Nov. 2 election.
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Austin City Limits fest and iHeartRadio Fest are the latest festivals to announce the removal of rapper DaBaby, who has come under fire for homophobic comments made during a recent festival.
The 29-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jonathan Lyndale Kirk, was dropped by Lollapalooza just hours before his set on Sunday, followed by the Governor's Ball in New York and Nevada's Day N Vegas after making unsolicited comments about men with HIV/AIDS at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami. Rolling Stone Magazine confirmed with iHeartRadio organizers that DaBaby will no longer perform.
DaBaby will no longer be performing at Austin City Limits Music Festival — lineup update coming soon. pic.twitter.com/jAYfdJFxJf
— ACL Festival (@aclfestival) August 3, 2021
There is no word on who he will be replaced with yet, though rumors on ACL's subreddit, r/aclfestival, are saying they expect Tyler, The Creator, who performed at Lollapalooza. Kirk will be replaced at Day N Vegas by rapper Roddy Ricch.
Kirk later backtracked his offensive statements on his Instagram story, but again faced criticism for not exactly apologizing.
After facing a second round of backlash for his Instagram statements, the rapper posted on Instagram, saying:
In addition to being dropped from the festivals, DaBaby has been denounced by fellow celebrities like Dua Lipa, Madonna and Elton John.
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