The City of Fort Worth joined other cities on Monday in setting a curfew after a demonstration in the city turned violent on Sunday night.
Fort Worth’s curfew will last from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. for the next 72 hours, according to a press conference at noon on Monday. As a result of the curfew, the City Council meeting set for Tuesday evening will be moved to Thursday so citizens can show up to speak.
The nighttime curfew is established for all of Fort Worth, including public places and streets, beginning June 1. The nightly curfew will begin at 8 p.m. and will end at 6 a.m. the following morning. Violating the curfew is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine up to $500.
“First, I want to acknowledge the injustice and tragic death of George Floyd and the mourning we are experiencing as a community and nation. I also want to commend those individuals who have assembled over the past couple of days to peacefully exercise their first amendment rights,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “It is important that we remain respectful of each other and our community. Unfortunately, there were individuals who displayed blatant disregard for the welfare of others – which is why we are enacting an 8 p.m. curfew.”
Fort Worth Police said the march Sunday night in downtown was initially peaceful. Then, as a group of approximately 300 protesters headed west toward the West 7th District shopping area, bicycle police overheard comments about damaging property in the West 7th area across the bridge.
“Officers with the FWPD Downtown Bicycle Unit blocked the bridge in the 2000 block of W 7th Street in order to redirect this group back toward downtown,” according to a Fort Worth Police Facebook post. “A stand-off ensued for several hours. At, approximately 10:15 p.m., protestors began throwing frozen water bottles at officers clearly intending to injure them. Officers with the SWAT Unit deployed dispersal smoke and flash-bangs in an attempt to deter this violence and redirect the protestors away from the officers on the bridge,” according to the Facebook post.
Some officers received some minor injuries, according to Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus.
In a statement on May 30, Mayor Price said: “As our nation mourns over injustice and the tragic death of George Floyd, Fort Worth is still healing from its own tragedy that took place only seven months ago. This is just one instance that gained national attention, but it occurs far too often in cities and towns all over America. For those instances that don’t gain notoriety, we know the pain for black and brown families is just as raw, real, and deep. As Mayor, I remain committed to continuing the work we have started to root out racism, inequities, and disparities at a systemic and policy level. But, just as importantly, I am committed to continuing the work within myself – to examine my own heart and to grow in my own understanding. We must take steps to ensure there is justice and a better tomorrow.”
The Fort Worth law enforcement community has seen its own share of controversy.
In October 2019, a white Fort Worth police officer shot Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old black woman, through a bedroom window of her own home. The officer was responding to a call about an open front door. The officer resigned and was later arrested on a murder charge.
The shooting was only the latest in simmering tensions between the Fort Worth Police Department and many in the minority community. The city has hired a police monitor and also a director for the Diversity and Inclusion Department.
The Fort Worth City Counicl meeting has been re-scheduled to Thursday, Junr 4 at 3 p.m. The City Council work session will still take place Tuesday, June 2 at 3 p.m.
Dallas police enforced a nighttime curfew by making dozens of arrests Sunday night, in a crackdown after several days of demonstrations that saw multiple eruptions of violence.
Dallas officials earlier in the day announced the curfew that would run from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., and squad cars and police on foot quickly moved in to pick up anyone still on the downtown streets once it started. Dallas police tweeted photos Sunday night as officers started making arrests, and within a few hours announced at least 70 arrests and noted “there is very little activity occurring in the downtown Dallas area.”
Police Chief U. Renee Hall said the curfew could be in effect “for the next several days” and that several suburban police departments had volunteered officers to help.
“We will not tolerate any more damage to our city,” Hall said.
The curfew measure was put in place as Texas cities braced for the possibility of another night of unrest and sought to prevent a repeat of the violence that broke out at weekend protests over the death of George Floyd and the treatment of black people by police.
Thousands of people took to the streets in cities throughout the country Friday and Saturday to protest Floyd’s death after a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck down for several minutes as Floyd pleaded for air and eventually stopped moving. Floyd grew up in Houston and his body is set to be returned to the city for burial.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a statewide disaster on Sunday, which allows him to designate federal agents to do the work of local police. These moves come as some Texas organizers are calling off demonstrations and others said they planned to proceed.
“Every Texan and every American has the right to protest and I encourage all Texans to exercise their First Amendment rights,” Abbott, a Republican, said in a statement. “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.
Dallas also closed several downtown civic buildings to the public on Monday, including a civil courthouse and the county administration building.
- The Associated Press contributed to this report.