Governor says Texas won’t seek military support for protests

Protesters demonstrate in front of Dallas City Hall in downtown Dallas, Saturday, May 30, 2020. Protests across the country have escalated over the death of George Floyd who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

By JAMIE STENGLE and PAUL J. WEBER Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday that Texas would not request military support after President Donald Trump threatened to deploy troops across the U.S. to confront violence set off by the death of George Floyd.

Abbott also said he was not asked to send Texas National Guard members to the District of Columbia after days of violent demonstrations there has led to fires, destroyed businesses and the use tear gas and flash bangs,  including on peaceful protesters. Others states, including Mississippi and Utah, were sending in more guardsmen to the nation’s capital Tuesday.

A growing number of protesters assembled outside Dallas City Hall to begin another day of protests as Abbott met inside with local officials. One held a sign that read “PROTECT & SERVE US TOO” as the crowd began marching downtown to the chant of “No justice, no peace.”

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An even larger demonstration was expected later in Houston, where Floyd’s family was expected to join protesters in a march through the nation’s fourth-largest city. Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis policeman pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes, grew up in Houston and a public memorial and burial is planned there for next week.

Abbott raised his voice while condemning Floyd’s death as a “horrific act of police brutality” and called Texas a leader in criminal justice reform and mentioned the Sandra Bland Act passed in 2017. The law mandates police deescalation training and is named after a black woman who died in a Texas jail following a confrontational traffic stop with a white state trooper. Video of the traffic stop and her death stirred national outrage.

Abbott didn’t suggest any changes to Texas policing or laws in the wake of Floyd’s death, and Democrats criticized his words as insufficient.

More than 3,000 state troopers have been assigned across Texas to bolster local law enforcement amid the protests.

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“Texas National Guard are here for Texans, and that’s exactly what they’ll be use for,” Abbott said when asked whether guardsman would be sent to Washington.

Since Friday, more than 180 protesters have been arrested and jailed in Dallas, according to the county sheriff’s office. That figure excludes a mass of demonstrators arrested and released Monday after being charged with obstructing a roadway.

Dallas police Chief U. Renee Hall emphasized Tuesday that most protests were peaceful but warned, “If you break the law, we will arrest you.”

Austin police say a 20-year-old black protester was critically injured after being struck by a beanbag fired by a police officer. Police Chief Brian Manley says the officer had been aiming at another demonstrator but missed.

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Associated Press writer Juan A. Lozano in Houston and Jake Bleiberg in Dallas s contributed to this report.