Austin’s Top News – June 1, 2020

Austin's Top News from News Radio KLBJ

Tank truck drives through protesters in Minneapolis

Minneapolis continues to riot as a tanker truck drives through a group of protesters over the weekend. A horrifying scene yesterday as a tanker truck drove through a crowd of peaceful protesters on I-35 in Minneapolis. Fortunately, no deaths or reports of major injuries. The driver was taken into custody. It’s still not clear whether it was intentional, but authorities say the driver did appear to roll through some barriers. In Minneapolis, the governor and state officials are also becoming much more revealing about just how bad the riots have been there. Cars without licence plates are driving around with weapons and rocks. 

The former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who is charged in connection with the death of George Floyd, has been transferred from a county jail to a maximum security prison. He was set to appear in court today, but his appearance has been rescheduled until next week. More than 4,000 have been arrested nationwide since the beginning of the riots last week. 

Community and government leaders respond to the civil unrest of the nation

Meanwhile, Democrat leaders have turned their blame of President Trump from COVID-19 to the violent riots across the nation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on ABC’s This Week that the president has failed in calming the outrage on the streets.

Pelosi says the president’s job is, “to unify our country and not to fuel the flame.” 

In the meantime, governors and mayors do what they can to bring calm. Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said on NBC’s Meet the Press that a united effort is needed. 

“It’s going to take community and government to heal the hurt that people are feeling,” says Bowser. 

The president has blamed ANTIFA members as the ones behind the violence. He tweeted Sunday that the US will designate it a terrorist organization.

Weekend protests and riots impact local restaurants

As Texas restaurants are facing the unprecedented fallout from coronavirus, many are also dealing with the extra crippling blow of severe damage from vandals and looters. The Texas Restaurant Association recently started the Texas Restaurant Relief Fund to help out with COVID-19. It’s now asking for extra donations to cover all of the cost incurred by the violent protests. 

Austin police prepared for the riots and protests

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley is calling the weekend riots in Austin and across the U.S. unprecedented. He says the department, with the help of area agencies, was about as prepared as it could be. 

“We are prepared and we are staffed up. We are doing everything we can do to give space to those who want to do what this should be all about and that is peacefully speak their mind about things that are very concerning,” Manley says. 

They’re seeing the movement that is focused on police shootings being used as a shield for criminal activity, including looting and much more. 

Austin Mayor Steve Adler agrees with those that protest peacefully 

While not advocating for the violence and private property damage that we saw over the weekend, Austin Mayor Steve Adler is still pleased that people have taken to the streets in protest. He tells KVUE it’s a very appropriate time to have these major demonstrations. 

“You can’t have events like we saw with George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Mike Ramos here without there needing to be some kind of response,” says Adler. “So I think that’s a good thing.”

The City Council is continuing to craft policies to force a culture change within the police department. He’s advocating for police to focus more on community service and less on making arrests. 

Retail stores close due to riots and protests 

Three Target store locations in Austin have been closed because of the rioting in the wake of the death of George Floyd. The company announced those closures on Saturday. Yesterday evening, Austin police were responding to calls of active looting at the Capital Plaza location. APD says a large crowd descended on the store, causing property damage in the process. No words of any arrests.

The Austin Justice Coalition cuts its ties with weekend protests

AJC’s Chas Moore says the rallies were supposed to be peaceful protests about George Floyd, Mike Ramos, police brutality and more. But he says instead, white people and other people of color turned it into something different.

“You’re using black pain and you’re using fake outrage in the name of black lives matter to go deface and destroy property, which we would then get the blame for. We see you, we know you are, and we’re not gonna let you go up and colonize this movement like you have done everything else,” Moore says. 

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