AUSTIN, Texas - At least 18 people were arrested at a demonstration in front of Austin Police Headquarters Sunday night.
Just before 4 p.m. motorcyclists and drivers, with the “silent no more we back our protectors” pro-police rally caravaned to headquarters. The event was organized by the motorcycle group Wind Therapy Freedom Riders, a motorcycle club, with chapters in “Austin, Mid, Lubbock, Houston, Dallas, and the Texas Hill Country,” as well as Meridian, Mississippi, and Seattle, Washington.
“We got tired of seeing all the protests leading to mayhem and destruction and that’s really what awakened us, when we decided the silent majority will stay silent no more, we the people have had enough,” said Luis Rodriguez, national president.
Also concerned about possible department budget cuts, the club caravaned through Central Texas over the weekend, stopping at ten police stations, and one sheriff’s office to host pro-police rallies -- Austin was their final stop.
“Defunding doesn’t make any sense. If you defund the police whose gonna pay for the training that you’re asking for,” said Rodriguez.
The group was met by a counter-protest called “Blue Lives DON’T Matter.” The protestors, set up outside headquarters at 2 p.m.
“Our lives do matter, Black lives after, brown lives matter and we need to show empathy and concern and care for these people who don’t have the protection of a badge,” said Ursula Rogers. Rogers tells FOX 7 Austin she has attended protests since May, supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement, and taking photos.
Police used an L-RAD, to communicate with protestors, telling them to stay out of the street and not to block the crosswalk. A handful of protestors were taken into custody before the bikers arrived. A few were pepper-sprayed by police.
Some “Black Lives Don’t Matter” demonstrators argued with members of the Boogaloo boys.
When the motorcyclists arrived, the two groups argued on the small strip of sidewalk in front of Austin Police headquarters.
Protestors chanted “blue lives don’t matter,” as members of the pro-police group chanted “back the blue” in return.
“I could see why [blue lives don’t matter] would be off-putting but the truth is, you know, the uniform is something that you can ultimately take off.”
Several people were taken into police custody. By 6:30 p.m. a high-ranking Austin Police official told FOX 7 Austin, 18 people had been arrested.
Still, it appears many found common ground.
“There’s actually a lot that the protestors stand for that we are actually with. The betterment of any police department or any law enforcement agency only helps the rest of the community,” said Rodriguez.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.