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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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.