Austin police chief considering citywide curfew in response to unrest

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley is considering a city-wide curfew, he said on June 3. During his 18-minute interview on the Jeff Ward Show, Manley said he spoke with Mayor Steve Adler and City Manager Spencer Cronk about enforcing a nighttime curfew.

“I discuss this daily,” he replied when asked if Austin should have a curfew. Manley said that opinion has changed, especially after the last few nights of peaceful protests. (The entire interview can be heard here and it is worth listening to.)

Thursday June 4th marks the city’s seventh day of protest.

“People came out to speak in a constructive and in a way about the problems that plague our society today that we hope would lead to change,” Manley continued. “But we have also seen across the country that the movement has been infiltrated and really kidnapped by those who want to go out and commit vandalism and crime.”

Manley’s comments are in line with those made by Steven C. McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Security, and Art Acevedo, the Houston police chief, in recent days. Both have given vague indications that violent groups “hijack” protests in response to police brutality. In his interview, Manley estimated that APD had arrested “50 to 60 people” and that only one was outside the Austin area.

There have been reports of looting on Sixth Street, a Shell station on I-35 Frontage Road, and a destination in North Austin. There were also reports of APD shots being fired at protesters, including videos of a 16-year-old boy and a 20-year-old Texas State University student being shot in the head by less lethal beanbag balls. Both victims remain critically in the hospital.

While some cities have put curfews in place, including Washington, DC and New York City, they are places of unrest that Austin largely avoided. Los Angeles County, which was sued by the ACLU earlier this week for its curfew along with the City of Los Angeles, announced today that it will not introduce a curfew on Thursday, June 4th.

Manley said he did not consider the National Guard or active duty military to be an appropriate measure for Austin.

“In a way, I think [military force] could hurt, “said Manley.” We don’t need that here in Austin right now … I think we can handle what’s going on here. “

The Austin Police Department will be the subject of an emergency Austin City Council meeting starting at 3 p.m. today.

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