AUSTIN, Texas - The tone changed when Austin police joined protestors Monday night and walked with the group away from APD headquarters into downtown. At the Capitol, state troopers joined in, as arms were held high in solidarity and into the evening, several officers stayed to talk.
The images may offer hope for more productive conversations, but community activist and executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition Chas Moore said Tuesday that he also has conflicting emotions about them. "If it’s just that then, one it can’t be true, it can't be genuine,” said Moore.
To explain his doubts about what he saw, and what he feels, Moore offered this analogy. "This seems to be a tactic of an abusive partner. Right, they physically abuse you, emotionally, whatever, and then they buy you stuff and say, oh baby I'm sorry. And they do it the next day,” said Moore.
Mayor Steve Adler on Good Day Austin Tuesday morning, said tactics will be the first topic for the council to discuss.
"Certainly there are questions we need to have a conversation, about the way we do crowd control,” said Adler who has called a Special Meeting of the City Council for Thursday.
It’s just been a few days when face-to-face encounters were filled with anger.
There were acts of vandalism and looting, like the incident at a Shell Mart directly across from APD headquarters. At times the weekend protests lost focus. Protesters hurled insults and rocks. Police responded with smoke, chemical spray and less than lethal projectiles.
There were several injuries, prompting police Chief Brian Manley to issue an emotional statement Monday to the families of two young men who were hurt. "I am praying for your child, and I hope you have a complete and quick recovery, and I will make myself open to speak with you and answer questions,” said Chief Manley.
Getting back on message, according to Moore, is critical to a much more complicated and awkward discussion. "You can sympathize, but you can’t empathize because you haven’t been in my shoes, and you're not trying to. You just want to fix the issue and let’s move on,” said Moore.
When asked how we prevent taking a step back into chaos, Moore said, "It’s not one message, its multiple messages, some people don’t agree with the tactics we use, we do policy, we do advocacy, we talk with the power structure, and we think that’s one way to bring change."
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There are people who are white who have said, they hear what the protesters are saying, but they don’t know what they really want. When asked if that question can have a simple answer, Moore said. "Oh no, no, no absolutely not, I’m glad you brought that up. I think that’s part of the problem."
For Moore, it involves acknowledging the moment of unity Monday is only a starting point with no clear path to any single answer, only a destination.
"We just want to be able to live in peace, without someone calling the cops because we are doing a BBQ, or because this black kid is selling lemonade,” said Moore.
He closed the discussion with FOX 7 emphasizing that his opinion is just from one voice The coming discussions with different people will raise many different problems that must be addressed; from financial issues to social disparity.
Travis County DA Margaret Moore, who is of no relation, has also joined the discussion. In a broad statement released Tuesday afternoon, District Attorney Moore denounced the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis Police custody. Floyd’s death sparked the protests nationwide.
She promised to fully investigate cases of police brutality as well as cases of vandalism. Moore also stated that the shooting death of Mike Ramos by an Austin Police officer earlier this year will be presented to a Grand Jury.