AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Gov. Greg Abbott has declared a state of disaster after two evenings of protests that turned chaotic and violent throughout Texas. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson also issued a disaster declaration for his city.
Major cities like Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio saw unrest as protesters condemned police brutality after the recent in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other police-related deaths involving black residents.
On Sunday, Abbott issued the state of disaster for all counties in Texas due to protests that led to destruction and vandalism.
According to Abbott, the declaration allows federal agents to be designated as Texas peace officers.
Abbott released a statement that read:
“Every Texan and every American has the right to protest and I encourage all Texans to exercise their First Amendment rights. 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.”
This declaration also comes a day after Abbott activated the Texas National Guard and sent at least 1,500 Texas Department of Public Safety officers to respond to these protests.
The Dallas mayor announced his disaster declaration Sunday afternoon due to “civil disorder and threats of rioting.” The declaration includes allowing for a curfew, which will be place for the next several days.
Mayor Johnson said the declaration will expire in seven days.
“I am supportive of peaceful demonstrations, and police should protect the protesters and their right to express themselves in a lawful manner…” Johnson said. “…But what we have seen from small groups this weekend was not a protest. They dishonored and exploited peaceful protesters and their message and engaged in selfish lawlessness that has nothing to do with human rights or Mr. Floyd’s death.”