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(Charlie L. Harper III)

At least two protests are planned in Austin this weekend over the recent killings of black men by police: Mike Ramos, who was fatally shot by an Austin Police Department officer on April 24 in Southeast Austin, and George Floyd, who died in police custody on Monday after a Minneapolis Police Department officer knelt on his neck. Both events were filmed.


Floyd's death—along with those of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT in Kentucky who was killed by police in March, and Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old who was pursued and shot by two white men while jogging in his Georgia neighborhood in February—has prompted protests in Minneapolis and other cities around the country. Seven people were shot during protests in Louisville last night.

The Mike Ramos Brigade has planned a protest for Saturday afternoon at the APD headquarters downtown. Nearly 2,000 people have expressed interest on the event's Facebook page. The group's members have not identified themselves, but in a call to action posted on social media they listed their demands, including the firing of Chief Brian Manley and the officers who killed Ramos.

"We don't want lip service from politicians who pretend to fight for the interests of black people and give more funding to cops in the same breath," the group wrote in a recent Instagram post. "We want killer cops to be run out, locked up, incapable of ever harming us again."

In a custodial death report filed with Attorney General Ken Paxton's office—as required by state law—APD said the officers involved in Ramos' death were responding to a narcotics call, during which Ramos "became non-compliant and verbally confrontational." One officer, "fearing the male subject intended to use [his car] as a deadly weapon," then shot Ramos with his patrol rifle.

A second protest, organized in collaboration with the Austin Justice Coalition and other community groups, is planned for Sunday at the Capitol. Nearly 500 people have indicated they will attend, with another 1,700 interested. "PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE wear your masks if you have them to ensure everyone's safety," AJC Executive Director Chas Moore wrote in a post on the event's Facebook page.

Chris Harris, director of criminal justice programs at Texas Appleseed and a member of the city's public safety commission, called for a reduction in police budgets and authority in a tweet yesterday. "Police & prisons won't stop Amy Coopers or police killings & aren't the answer," he wrote, referring to the white woman who called police on a black man who asked her to leash her dog in a New York City park earlier this week.

Manley called Floyd's death "heart wrenching" and "senseless" in a tweet on Wednesday. "As law enforcement professionals, we must do better in service to our communities!"


In November, Austin City Council ordered two investigations into APD after an anonymous complaint alleged racism, sexism and homophobia among the top ranks. The initial investigation, the findings of which were released last month, did not confirm any specific allegations. But Lisa Tatum, the San Antonio lawyer tasked with the job, wrote in her report that "issues of race lie just below the surface."

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