A community-organized protest may disrupt Austin traffic this morning, and police are asking commuters to make other plans.
The group, which began by blocking traffic at Lamar, has now moved to just outside City Hall. Hundreds of people are signed up to testify at today's City Council meeting on major changes to police funding and policy—though the meeting is taking place virtually.
A group of protesters have blocked Cesar Chavez west of City Hall. Seek alternate routes and expect delays.… https://t.co/uFSrRYfaJR— ATX Transportation (@ATX Transportation)1591887092.0
The event, entitled "Wakey Wakey: Disruption Series/Part One" on Facebook, was planned with the goal of disturbing morning traffic in the name of defunding and abolishing the Austin Police Department.
"One of our goals is to ultimately bankrupt APD by making sure their resources are being spread thinner and thinner," organizers Andie Flores and Leslie Lozano wrote.
The protest was scheduled to have what organizers called a "radical reading circle" and a "Cumbia circle" running simultaneously starting at 8:00 am Thursday morning. The reading circle is at the intersection of W. 6th and N. Lamar while the Cumbia circle is at W. Riverside and S. Lamar.
"I'm sure we'll have snags, but the point is to show support and raise awareness," Flores said yesterday. "If the toughest part of someone's day is going to be a little temporary traffic jam, I think they'll be OK."
The reading and dancing will help protestors "imagine a world without police" and "live out joy that brings attention to this call to action," according to the event page. Texts include selections by authors Toni Morrison, Resmaa Menakem and Amiri Baraka. They will also read reports from MPD150, an organization calling for "a police free Minneapolis," where protests erupted two weeks ago after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
Police are not welcome to participate in the dancing, according to the event page.
"To be clear, the cumbia circle is an effort to be in community with other Latinx friends and folks and make sure we're talking about how we as a people have historically contributed to anti-Blackness, both in Austin and otherwise," Flores wrote. "We want to have fun and be joyful and take up space to show support, but we also want to make sure we're acknowledging how we've been part of the problem."
"As long as the police exist… Black people will always be in danger and will always be targets of the police," Flores said.
Editor's note: This story is developing and has been updated.
Republic Square Park has turned into a Ford-themed fiesta for its Built to Connect pop-up experience, complete with test drives, off-roading and an inside look at the Tesla-rivaling electric vehicles that the motor vehicle company is planning to integrate over the next decade.
The outdoor driving event is free, open to the public and will stay in the park from now until Oct. 24, offering rides on Bronco Mountain, a 0-40 mph zip in the 2022 all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning and a chance to win an original Ford Bronco.
The event kicked off with a panel of speakers, including Austin Director of Transportation Rob Spillar, Ford General Manager Darren Palmer and engineering specialists discussing Ford's goals to make it so that 50% of the vehicles on the road are electric by 2030.
As an eco-conscious city, Spillar said that around 4,000 vehicles, or 22% of the Texas electric vehicle market, as well as over 15,000 plugins lie in Austin, meaning driving electric just got accessible.
"Austin, as you know, is a fast-growing modern city that is committed to protecting the long term health and viability of our communities and strategies that reduce greenhouse gases, mitigate the effects of climate change and improve the drone quality of life here in Central Texas for all of our residents," Spillar said.
And Ford's electric vehicles are putting up some steep competition for newly-Austin-based company Tesla. The new electric Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lighting offer amenities that used to be exclusive to Musk's brand, such as the BlueCruise self-driving network. The cars also boast a 300-mile range on a single charge, assisted reverse technology and access to the biggest charging network outside of the home.
Plus, Ford's got affordability on its side. The F-150 Lightning starts at $39,974 and the Mustang Mach-E starts at $42,895, while the cheapest Tesla model, the Model 3, starts at $41,990 and averages 262 miles on a single charge.
Speaking of price, the numbers on the electric vehicles may look like a little more than you'd like to pay for your transport, but Palmer promises it will pay off. In addition to a $7,500 tax credit you can earn for your sustainability, you'll never have to buy a pricey tank of gas again.
"Personally, I have not found one customer ever, who would go back to gas so that says something," Palmer said. "I realized, at $51,000, that car outruns every childhood hero car I ever had."
Texas buyers: take note. The Ford Lightning can power your house for three to 10 days, just in case the statewide power grid fails. You can take it glamping with you, so you don't have to leave the comfort of modern life behind, and in a pinch, Palmer said he's even seen a wedding party powered by the truck.
Ford is investing $30 billion into the U.S. market to meet demand by 2025 and the new electric truck already has over 150,000 reservations.
"I think they're going to take off much faster than you expect—they're going to be extremely, extremely popular next year," Palmer said. "With the incentives that are available today, this is starting to become more mainstream and viable for more and more families. We couldn't have done that before, we didn't have the technology, or the technology at that price."
The event is ongoing through next weekend from 12-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- Tesla driven by drunk teen bursts into flames in Tarrytown crash ... ›
- This Austin startup is bringing electric powersports vehicles to town ›
- Austin ranks in top cities for electric vehicles - austonia ›
- Enthusiasm soars in Austin's Tesla community as new factory is built ... ›
- Nissan LEAF, Teslas are Austin's most popular electric cars - austonia ›
The Austin Police Department is searching for a man who is believed to be behind a series of robberies that is "sexual in nature and is escalating."
Three robbery cases that took place in North Austin within a 30-day period are being investigated by police, who report the victims all had similar descriptions for suspects in the case. The suspect is described as a 20-25-year-old Spanish-speaking Hispanic man, approximately 5'3, thin build, recently shaved with black hair. Police say he is known to typically wear athletic clothing and used a knife on each of the victims.
Here's a breakdown of the cases:
1. At 7:56 a.m. on Sept. 22 at the 1600 block of Rutland Drive, a woman was walking alone and returning from her child's school when a suspect walking by inappropriately touched her. The suspect then grabbed her by the arm, threatened her with a knife and demanded "her property."
2. At 8:10 a.m. on Oct. 11 at 1700 block of Colony Creek Drive, a woman was walking to her child's school when a man approached her with a knife and then demanded her personal items. The suspect then said he would return the items in return for sex.
3. At 11:03 a.m. on Oct. 13 at the 9300 block of Northgate Boulevard, a woman was with her child in the laundry room of an apartment complex when a man walked in performing a sexual act. The suspect demanded personal items from the victim, threatening to hurt the victim and take her child.
Police cautioned the public to walk without earbuds, stay alert and report suspicious activity to the police.
- Austin has 53 percent more homicides in first seven months ... ›
- APD reports increase in violent crime amid defunding push - austonia ›
- Austin ranks more dangerous than Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth ... ›
- Austin police: Violent crime uptick could be 'here to stay' - austonia ›
- Here's how crime stacks up in Austin's party districts - austonia ›