To update: On November 4, the Austin Police Department issued the following correction: “The original press release stated that the Texas Police Spouses Association (TPSA) was a co-coordinator for this event. It was wrong. TPSA were only attendees.”
It’s been an especially difficult week for the Austin Police, especially considering it’s only Tuesday.
Over the weekend, several APD officials were photographed outside City Hall with members of the Texas Police Spouses Association and Wind Therapy Freedom Riders, some flashing white proud hand symbols and waving Trump flags. The photo quickly made its way onto social media, where it sparked outrage in the tense days leading up to the presidential election.
In a press release on November 3, APD announced that the photo was known and initiated an internal investigation.
“On Sunday November 1st, APD officials worked to create a safe environment for a peaceful protest, coordinated by the Texas Police Spouses Association and Wind Therapy Freedom Riders. At the end of the event, several officials were working on theirs Identification we are working were asked to take a photo with attendees, which is not an unusual request from the community, “the press release said.
The photo shows at least three of the protesters flashing the “Okay” hand symbol, which was co-opted by hate organizations and is now classified as a racist hand symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. In response, the APD states that it does not justify or condone political activities in uniform and has sent all officers and employees training materials to remind them of the department’s guidelines.
Just hours after the photo went online, APD was dealt another PR blow.
The division came under fire in June after officials put “less fatal” rounds on peaceful protesters, resulting in at least three people being hospitalized. On November 2, KUT released a bombshell report showing the department bought thousands of rounds of beanbag chairs in August, just two months after APD chief Brian Manley promised not to use them during a session of Austin city council.
According to KUT, the day after Manley signed up to the city council, the city won a $ 42,000 deal with Combined Tactical Systems, a global combat equipment provider, for 5,000 more “less lethal” rounds.