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Three arrested by Austin police for looting at Capital Plaza Target are members of Defend Our Hoodz, investigators say
The three Austin residents arrested in connection with looting, burglary and property damage at the Capital Plaza Target off I-35 near Hwy. 290 are members of the anti-gentrification group Defend Our Hoodz, according to Austin Police Department investigators.
The press release sent by the Travis County District Attorney's office after the arrests on Friday identified the trio as "known members" of a local antifa, or anti-fascist, group.
A spokesperson for the DA's office confirmed the APD investigator's conclusions in an email to Austonia.
"The looting at Target was promoted via the Mike Ramos Brigade Facebook page on a live video feed," per APD. "There is crossover between [Defend Our Hoodz] and Mike Ramos Brigade but the 3 arrests are in DOH."
Outraging video of Brad Ayala, the 16 year old targeted and shot in the head by @Austin_Police with a rubber bullet… https://t.co/sGaMq1SGu0— Defend Our Hoodz - Austin (@Defend Our Hoodz - Austin)1591110941.0
Both Defend Our Hoodz and the Mike Ramos Brigade frequently describe police officers as "pigs" on social media; their activities are covered by the WordPress sites Incendiary News Service and Tribune of the People, respectively, which share at least one writer.
We interrupted APD's publicity stunt taking a knee and 8 minutes of silence today. These pigs don't deserve any sil… https://t.co/f1BX6UVVfu— Mike Ramos Brigade (@Mike Ramos Brigade)1591475877.0
Brenda Ramos, whose son Mike was shot and killed by an APD officer on April 24, said the brigade is not associated with her family at a protest organized by the Austin Justice Coalition yesterday.
APD estimates around 20 to 30 people participated in the looting, which took place on May 31 following a protest in downtown Austin. The damage and stolen merchandise is valued at more than $20,000.
As part of an ongoing investigation by APD, the DA's office and the FBI, APD arrested three suspects on June 5.
Lisa Hogan, 27, was arrested on charges of riot and burglary, both of which are state jail felonies. She is suspected of live streaming the looting on Facebook and encouraging others to join in. Her bonds are set at $25,000 each.(Austin Police Department)
Samuel Miller, 22, was arrested on charges of criminal mischief and burglary, both of which are state jail felonies. He is also accused of destroying surveillance cameras outside the store. His bonds are set at $25,000 each.(Austin Police Department)
Skye Elder, 23, was arrested for burglary, and bond is set at $25,000.(Austin Police Department)
The Mike Ramos Brigade has hosted at least two protests outside of APD headquarters in the wake of George Floyd's death. After one on May 30 ended with police violence and vandalism, the Austin Justice Coalition announced it would cancel a march it had planned for May 31.
"The safety of black lives is always our main concern and we cannot in our right mind send people out in the current climate," the local criminal justice reform organization posted to Instagram hours before the event was scheduled to begin.
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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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