This incident happened in Austin, Texas Friday evening.
KXAN TV frames this story with the following headline:
“APD officer says protesters pulled down and burned US, Texas flags”
The video KXAN provides in a tweet in its own story shows the protesters in action. They are massed outside Austin police headquarters. They are chanting “F*** the police!” over and over again. And they lower the Texas flag while cheering. The American flag appears to have been lowered before the recording started.
— Bino Cadenas (@Bino_APD) June 20, 2020
One of the two photos in the tweet shows the flags burning on the ground. So there’s a bit more here than just “APD officer says…” He provides visual evidence, and someone was broadcasting the events on Facebook live.
Another APD officer provides some description on Facebook.
So, Austin came much too close to having its own version of CHOP on Friday night. But here, the officers never abandoned their posts. No word on whether Mayor Steve Adler wanted them to or not.
Earlier Saturday, the Austin Police Association posted this on its Facebook feed.
Busy night, with a violent protest and two shootings. Note the sentences about retirements. Austin is on track to see twice as many police officer retirements in 2020 than usual.
APA notes this just a few days after the Austin city council voted unanimously to defund the police and the city manager followed up and announced the elimination of 100 sworn officer slots and delaying the current cadet class. The city may just not replace any of the officers who are voting with their feet and leaving in droves. In other contexts, media might frame this as a “brain drain” and a city setting out to “eat its young.”
As for Austin, its police were already short-handed months ago. This story is from the local Fox 7 in January 2020:
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said one of the best deterrents to crime is a visible police presence. That’s something the department has struggled with as more officers retire from the force.
“The more vacancies you have, the less safe the city is. You can just look at the crime stats here recently,” said Ken Casaday, president of the Austin Police Association.
After last week’s stabbing spree downtown, Manley said, “We’ve well documented that a visible police presence is one of the strongest deterrents to crime, so, we, at this point and time, when we have 180 vacancies, it’s a little bit more difficult to be as visible as we want.”
DPS stepped in to help patrol downtown by order of the governor. UTPD has also decided to help with patrols near campus.
DPS is the Texas Department of Public Safety. By January, DPS was already patrolling Austin because the city’s mayor and council were abdicating their first responsibility to residents. APD was already 180 slots down at that time, it has lost more since, and the city will delay the next cadet class, which is usually around 65 or so officers. Those officers take another four to five, to as many as eight months, to train up.
APD is being squeezed at both ends and lacks any support from Mayor Steve Adler or anyone on the city council. The major and city council have all spent the past several weeks publicly trashing APD and its officers. The city council has tried to get Police Chief Brian Manley to quit after a brand new activist group called on the city to fire him. But per state law, they can’t fire him. So they tried intimidating him out of his job, but he’s staying for the time being.
With each passing day it become more difficult to see why any police officer in any major city is staying on the job. They need paychecks…and at this point, that’s probably the main reason.
UPDATE: Arrest made.