Governor Greg Abbott declared a State of Disaster for all Texas counties following several protests in cities throughout Texas over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white policeman kneeled on his neck for several minutes.
Under this declaration, the Governor has the ability to designate federal agents to serve as Texas Peace Officers.
“Every Texan and every American has the right to protest and I encourage all Texans to exercise their First Amendment rights,” Governor Abbott said in a release. “However, violence against others and the destruction of property is unacceptable and counterproductive. As protests have turned violent in various areas across the state, it is crucial that we maintain order, uphold public safety, and protect against property damage or loss. By authorizing additional federal agents to serve as Texas Peace Officers we will help protect people’s safety while ensuring that peaceful protesters can continue to make their voices heard.”
Sparked by Floyd’s death, protests erupted in Texas cities across the state including in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio.
Floyd, 46, a Houston native, grew up in the Third Ward and graduated from Jack Yates High School where he played football.
He died in Minneapolis police custody while being arrested Monday. Video showed an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck, pinning him to the ground while he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.
Abbott’s deceleration comes less than a day after he activated the Texas National Guard and deployed state resources to the cities of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin in order to maintain public safety. Abbott sent more than 1,500 officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety to assist local police departments. In a release, he said additional resources would be provided as needed.