AUSTIN, Texas - A law enforcement coalition of police and state troopers was put together to contain and control the protest that took place in Austin this past weekend.
This new team-up came with a new strategy, a key part of which was not let allowing the protesters take over the street.
“Well, it did surprise me because it’s obviously been a change and how these things have been secured over the last couple of weeks, said retired Austin Police Sgt. Wayne Vincent.
The change in tactics, according to Vincent, doesn’t shut down protests but prevents them from spiraling out of control.
“The crowd control was much more organized the agitators, it seems, were taken out early and often and trouble was stopped before it began,” said Vincent.
There were a few tense confrontations, and there were some protestors who brought weapons with them like a man who was seen with a sledgehammer. Several people also had rifles which added to the tension.
“I did talk to some officers who were out there, I was told there was at least one person arrested for aggravated assault on a police officer because they pointed a rifle at one of our officers, they had to go into that crowd with a bunch of people holding rifles to make that arrest, imagine how dangerous that situation was,” said Vincent.
Long rifles have been seen before during protests at the state Capitol, but the protests taking place seem to be a completely new dynamic. “Well I think so, it’s escalating upon itself just because something is legal sure does it make it smart, this is a recipe for disaster,” said Vincent.
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A review of booking records at the Travis County Jail shows nearly three dozen arrests took place between Friday and early Sunday morning. FOX 7 counted 34 individuals taken into custody for mostly misdemeanors, ranging from obstructing a highway to resisting arrest and interfering.
“The key to these things is, don’t let it get out of hand, have an organized plan to take out the agitator immediately, it does two things, it takes that person out of the equation, it also shows the crowd what the intentions are of law-enforcement, let them protest, let them have their First Amendment rights, but there’s a line you’re not gonna cross, or there will be consequences,” said Vincent.
Reports that protesters were bused in from places like Portland and Seattle did not pan out although FOX7 has been told some of those who took part in the protest are from out of state. Bond for the protesters ranged from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.