It would be easy for Cedar Park Mayor Corbin Van Arsdale, whose community is more than 80% white, to look at the unrest happening in larger metro areas like Austin and decide it's not his problem.
The large protests and, in some cases, violent rioting during the past week over police brutality, touched off by the killing of George Floyd by four white Minneapolis officers, have been largely confined to diverse metropolitan population centers.
But Van Arsdale and other city officials and police chiefs in Austin's overwhelmingly white and affluent suburbs see signs that the Black Lives Matter movement and its attendant demands for change are reaching into these communities—most of which have never before had to openly grapple with the issue of police brutality.
In Georgetown on Wednesday, Police Chief Wayne Nero greeted a crowd of about 200 mostly white residents carrying signs in front of the courthouse supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
In Lakeway, more than 90% of residents are white, while nearly 30% of the police officers are people of color. Local residents staged a peaceful demonstration outside the police department on Saturday and another one in the city on Tuesday night, said city spokesperson Jarrod Wise.
In Leander, residents are asking police how they can protect citizens from racial violence, opening conversations about the department's policies on body cameras, complaints and racial profiling, said Assistant Police Chief Billy Fletcher.
Police in Bee Cave are helping a group of teens from Lake Travis High School stage a Black Lives Matter rally in front of City Hall on June 13.
"We have been listening and learning," reads a message on the Cedar Park Police Department's Facebook page.
Bee Cave Police Chief Gary Miller said while he disagrees with violence, he believes most protesters are trying to peacefully find a way to express their anger, and rightfully so.
"I don't know any officer who believes the actions by any of the four officers in Minneapolis [are] anything other than criminal," he said.
Asked if the suburbs have a responsibility to engage in the conversation about race and police, Van Arsdale and Fletcher had the same answer: "Absolutely."
"Dr. King said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' This includes our suburbs," said Van Arsdale, a white former Republican Texas state lawmaker. "We need to speak clearly and with one voice: This is not 1862. This is not 1962. We don't want any of that part of that America again."
Suburban police say they are prepared for outside agitators disrupting their mostly quiet communities.
Miller, for example, has extra officers near the Galleria in the evenings to protect against potential looters.
West Lake Hills Police Chief Scott Gerdes said his department hadn't gotten any specific threats, but he has put extra officers on call.
"I certainly can't predict where these things may go," Gerdes said Tuesday, as chatter about suburban protests ramped up on social media.
The violence didn't come. Instead, there is conversation—with the potential for action.
Leander business owner Gus Gordon on Monday organized a meeting between local police and black business and civic leaders, which he saw as a good "first step" toward sowing support and empathy in a community that may not fully understand the recent anger on the streets. He's planning a more public and social community event later in the month, he said."For a lot of people in these majority white or affluent communities, this is not an issue that directly affects them, so it can be overlooked and seem exaggerated," said Gordon, who is black, and who owns Cappelliera's Barber Salon. "This is a national issue. Even if it doesn't directly touch Leander, Georgetown, Cedar Park, we should still have the support of people that are for justice—for all people."
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After two years of no in-person events, Austin festival South by Southwest has agreed to give 50% of ownership to P-MRC, a Los Angeles company that controls publishing operations for Rolling Stone and Billboard.
The media venture was founded in 2020 and is part-owned by Jay Penske, racer Roger Penske's son and head of Penske Racing and Penske Media.
The move comes after the COVID-19 pandemic left the festival with two years worth of hemorrhaging funds. SXSW organizers were left scrambling for solutions in March 2020 when the city of Austin canceled the festival at the onset of the pandemic. One-third of the festival's 175 year-round employees were laid off, and the festival ran a shortened virtual event in 2021.
SXSW CEO and co-founder Roland Swenson said in a statement that the company is grateful to get aid when they need it most and that they are now looking to the future.
"It has been an incredibly tough period for small businesses, SXSW included," Swenson said. "When Jay Penske approached us with an interest in becoming a partner, it was a true lifeline for us. Both of our companies share a passion for producing high-quality content that helps shape modern culture, so this feels like a natural alliance."
Both of Austin's big-name festivals are now in the hands of out-of-town buyers. In 2014, homegrown festival Austin City Limits was bought in part by LiveNation, who took 51% ownership in Austin live promoter C3 Presents.
The fest has captured the essence of Austin arts and culture for 34 years, and it doesn't plan on stopping now. With P-MRC by its side, SXSW said it plans on keeping its unique identity but expanding operations as it prepares for an in-person celebration next spring.
"Since 1987, SXSW has been the world's premier festival centered at the convergence of tech, media, film, and music," Penske said. "Today SXSW continues to be one of the most recognized brands for empowering creative talent and bringing together the brightest creators of our time. As part of this significant investment, we plan to build upon SXSW's incredible foundation while extending the platform further digitally and assisting Roland and his incredible team to bring their vision to even greater heights."
With their future restored, SXSW's newest slogan rings truer than ever: "See you next year at SXSW!"
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Update: Former Travis County deputy suspected of killing 3 in northwest Austin now in police custody
Stephen Broderick is now in police custody for a suspected domestic violence incident that killed three in northwest Austin on Sunday.
After initially being called an active shooting incident, joint local law enforcement and more than 75 FBI agents proceeded with an almost day-long manhunt with three helicopters and on-ground teams for former Travis County deputy Broderick. Police captured him after a 911 caller reported a suspicious man walking along U.S. 290, where he was taken into custody.
Police believe the victims, who have been identified as two Hispanic women and one Black man, knew their assailant. A child was involved but is now safely in police custody. Two of the victims have been identified as former and current Elgin ISD students: Alyssa Broderick and Willie Simmons III.
The school district released a statement offering its condolences to the families. Alyssa was enrolled until October 2020 and played on the basketball team. Simmons was a senior at Elgin High School where he was captain of the football team and had been recruited to play football at the University of North Texas.
Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez released the following statement on the incident: "I'm truly heartbroken that a former Travis County Sheriff's Office Deputy is the suspect in such a horrific incident. TCSO is standing by to provide any, and all assistance we can to the families of the victims in their time of need. I'm proud of the integrity and professionalism shown by the men and women of TCSO, APD and other law enforcement agencies, who worked tirelessly throughout the night to locate Stephen Broderick. I'm especially grateful to the vigilant citizen who called 911 after seeing Broderick, and to the Manor PD officers and TCSO deputies who took him into custody this morning."
APD @Chief_Chacon provides updated media briefing in relation to Great Hills Trail incident. - PIO8 https://t.co/47siNWhARI
— Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police) April 18, 2021
During a press briefing at 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, Interim Police Chief Joe Chacon said law enforcement was on the scene for several hours investigating the incident with 41-year-old Broderick.
"We're very sorry that obviously this has happened and we continue to try and locate this individual, we are transitioning from a search in this area to a fugitive search and those efforts will continue until this person is located," Chacon said. "I don't want anyone to think that we're packing up and going home. We're going to continue to look for this individual because he continues to pose a threat to this community."
#texasshooting #masshooting Arboretum shooting Austin. pic.twitter.com/SkIsgDoYHt
— Jamie Hammonds (@jamie_hammonds5) April 18, 2021
This story has been updated at 8 a.m. Monday to include the latest information.
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Formula 1 is returning to Florida for the first time since 1959, announcing that the brand-new Miami Grand Prix will join the calendar in 2022 and Austin will no longer be the only F1 race in the U.S.
Held at the Hard Rock Stadium complex in Miami Gardens, this will be the first race in the Sunshine State in 62 years. With a new track setup, F1 will loop the stadium, home of the NFL's Miami Dolphins.
Excited for @F1 @f1miami @HardRockStadium - a Global Entertainment Destination. This event will bring opportunities for so many and will be world-class. Thank you to @gregmaffei #chasecarey #stefanodomenicali @MayorRHarris @Ogilbert @CommishDiaz @MayorDaniella pic.twitter.com/n6dDDD1cPX
— Tom Garfinkel (@TomGarfinkel) April 18, 2021
The new 3.36 mile circuit has 19 corners, three straights and potential for three DRS zones, with expected top speeds of 198 mph.
Now with two races in the U.S., F1 President Stefano Domenicali said they will avoid having back-to-back events by keeping the Miami Grand Prix separate from the U.S. Grand Prix, which is held at Austin's Circuit of the Americas.
The date of the race has yet to be confirmed, though Domenicali said he expects the first race in a 10-year deal to take place in the second quarter of 2022. Austin's race will take place on Oct. 24 this year.
"The USA is a key growth market for us, and we are greatly encouraged by our growing reach in the U.S. which will be further supported by this exciting second race," Domenicali said.
Miami will mark the 11th race location in the U.S. since the Championship began in 1950: Circuit of The Americas in Austin; Dallas, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Sebring, Florida; Riverside, California; Watkins Glen, New York; Long Beach, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Detroit, Michigan and Phoenix, Arizona. COTA was first opened in 2012.
Domenicali said F1 will be working with the FIA and the Hard Rock Stadium to leave a lasting impact on the community: discounted tickets for residents, a program to support local businesses and a STEM education program through F1 in schools.
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