City News

Austin police chief considering citywide curfew in response to unrest

Austin police chief considering citywide curfew in response to unrest

Austin protests saturday apd 1-35
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said he has considered implementing a citywide curfew. Photo by Katie Friel

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley is considering a citywide curfew, he said on June 3. During his 18-minute interview with the Jeff Ward Show, Manley said he has been in communication with Mayor Steve Adler and City Manager Spencer Cronk on whether to enforce a nightly curfew. 

"I discuss that daily," he responded when asked if Austin should have a curfew. Manley said that is opinion has changed, especially after the past few nights of peaceful protests. (The entire interview can be heard here and is worth the listen.)

Thursday, June 4, marks the city's seventh day of protests

“People were coming out to talk about the issues that are plaguing our society today in a constructive manner and in a manner that was hopefully going to push towards change,” Manley continued. “But what we’ve seen as well, throughout the country, is that movement has been infiltrated and really hijacked by those who want to go out and commit vandalism and crime.” 

Manley's comments echo those made in recent days by Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven C. McCraw and Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, both of whom have made vague references to violent groups "hijacking" protests in response to police brutality. In his interview, Manley estimated that APD has arrested "50 to 60 people" and only one did not live in the Austin area.

There have been reports of looting on Sixth Street, a Shell station on the I-35 Frontage Road, and at a North Austin Target. There have also been reports of APD firing on protestors, including videos circulating of a 16-year-old boy and a 20-year-old Texas State University student being shot in the head by less-lethal bean-bag bullets. Both victims remain in the hospital, one critically.

While some cities have implemented curfews, including Washington, D.C. and New York City, they are places that have witnessed a level of unrest Austin has largely avoided. Los Angeles County, which was sued along with the City of Los Angeles by the ACLU over its curfew earlier this week, announced earlier today that it will not be implementing a curfew for Thursday, June 4. 

As for bringing in the National Guard or active-duty military, Manley said he did not think it was an appropriate measure for Austin at this time.

"In a way, I think [military force] could hurt," Manley said. "Here in Austin, we don't need that right now ... I think we're able to handle what's happening here."

The Austin Police Department will be the subject of an emergency Austin City Council meeting beginning today at 3 pm.