Surviving State Violence: A first hand account of police brutality in Austin, Texas

Editor’s note: This is an anonymous eye witness account of the recent protests in Austin, Tx following George Floyd’s deaths & represents the writer’s viewpoints. This story is part of a series. Don’t @ me. // xoxo Jehnny

Cw: Gore and Violence

I am a survivor of APD violence. 

During the weekend of 05/29/20, I was shot at nearly a dozen times by the police and saw several near fatal injuries from police rubber bullets first hand. I saw them shot a medic in the hand right in front of me. I witnessed a close friend get shot in the chest with a bean bag round. The wound was so severe she needed surgery to pull it out. The pigs even shot a pregnant woman in the stomach (she miscarried). A young black man named Justin Howell was shot in the back of the head by police. He lived, but with a cracked skull and permanent brain damage. 

What provoked the police to cause all this violence? There were a few water bottles that were thrown. Some roads were blocked. That’s it.

The police DO NOT care about our safety; they only follow the orders that their commanders give them, and their commanders are paid to protect private property and profit. This is not a revelation, it is an illumination. This is what they’ve always done. This is all they’ve ever stood for. Now the mask has slipped off we can see their true grotesque face.

~

The protests started on Friday May 29 at midnight. I heard about them through rumors spread by friends and comrades in the area. As I was driving past APD headquarters on IH35 I saw the police stopping and searching all the vehicles going on the overpass near sixth street. I narrowly avoided being stuck and drove off.

I messaged friends to see what was going on and only heard bits and pieces of the story. Rumors of Snipers, set up on IH35, and of multiple arrests made already. I was in a frenzy. I needed to prepare for whatever was happening. I filled my bag with a change of clothes, water, food, antacid spray, and a helmet. I decided that since I didn’t know enough about what was going on, I needed to wait for the scheduled protest at noon the next day. I had an uneasy 3 hours of rest that night as the world outside was burning.

At 9 am the next morning I messaged friends who I planned to go to the protest with. I shared what little information I had about the situation and we decided to meet up at a spot a few miles away from APD. We met up and made our way to APD as a group. The city surrounding us seemed surprisingly normal. As people carried on with their day to day lives, I was unknowingly preparing to walk straight into a firing squad. 

The scene at APD was near frenzy as soon as we got there. I had no idea what to expect, but it already was looking like a war zone. A black protestor was arguing face to face with the police. It looked heated. He kept trying to push forward into the department and the officers grabbed him. He disappeared behind the line of cops guarding the steps of APD. This enraged the crowd they called for his freedom. Some were emboldened to push forward themselves. This brought the first volley of macings. They sprayed pressurized spouts of searing mace fluid directly in our faces. Those that got hit walked back from the line, blinded and in shock. They were met by medics who had antacid spray to alleviate the pain. The macings didn’t stop us though. It enraged some people enough that they started throwing half empty water bottles at the cops from far behind the line. That’s when the shootings started.

The pigs then opened fire on the crowd of unarmed protestors. Everyone scattered, I saw people ducking for cover, people just running. I ducked behind a wall hearing bullets whizzing past my head. 

After the first barrage we regrouped right in front of the steps of APD with even more vitriol. They had just attempted to maim all of us for the actions of a few. Instinctively, we fought back. It was fight or flight. But the police were set up at every corner, groups of burly men armed with clubs and automatic assault rifles. We were surrounded there was nowhere left to go except up.

That’s when a mass of people charged up the embankment onto the highway. I was so scared. What if they go surrounded. What if the pigs start using live rounds. I couldn’t stand back. I needed to help. 

A woman right in front of me tumbled down the embankment screaming. The pigs shot her in the knee. Another protester and I helped move her from the embankment. She couldn’t walk but she was screaming “fuck you pigs!” as she was carried off to the medics.

I watched the rest of the protestors push on. Through the bullets. Through the mace, through the injuries– they pushed through the police line and took the highway. They took the streets that were always theirs. The police had already blocked off two lanes on the southbound highway to make room for their snipers, so the protestors were able to take the southbound side easily. Traffic had slowed to a crawl as rubbernecked onlookers gawked at the crowd ascending onto the highway. 

Soon they would have to stop entirely. 

The mass of protestors took the northbound side as well. The rest of the protestors held the line near the base of the embankment. No pig, no plainclothes, no liberal distractor was going to get through them. Protesters held all lanes of IH35 for almost two hours. I heard there were skaters up there doing board tricks on top of the highway. Kickflips for the revolution!

This was monumental! This was history! The taking of IH35 showed that if the people want to we can shut down the whole system. It was a reminder to the upper class that the supply lines are beholden to the workers not the other way around.  

Watching the protestors hold the highway was the most tense time in my entire life. It seemed like one wrong move would be certain death or mortal injury. The protestors, my friends, The People showed heroic bravery in taking that highway.

The pigs could not let us keep it though. They were ordered to clear the highway, and they didn’t care how many people they had to hurt or how badly. They stormed up IH35 on horseback with mace, clubs, and rubber bullets. They ran over a woman with their horse, they shot a man in the face, they shot my friend point blank in the chest. They were swinging their clubs indiscriminately even at small women. They were out for blood. That’s when I saw them shoot that man 3 times point blank in the chest.  

The people had to run. They sustained terrible injuries and many arrests. One man laid out on the hot asphalt of the highway motionless. The crowd escaped the highway by marching together. Together they were strong. They rejoined the rest of the group at APD. But we were not done taking the streets yet.

The police were ordered to clear the highway because their job is to protect property and profit for the upper  class. The protestors got in the way of that so they were ordered to get rid of them. The police don’t care about you or me; they only follow the orders of the upper class.

They need to be stopped. 

We need liberation from their violent oppression. 

We have no choice but to protest. 

~

A long form poem spray painted on medians sidewalks asphalt, and windows of downtown Austin:

   ___ACAB 

    1312__

    _F|T|P___ 

    ____Fuck12_ 

    I can’t breath____ 

    __RIP Big Floyd__

    _We_The_People_

    _REVOLUTION_

–The People___

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