13 Investigates: Most of Houston's protest arrests were locals

BySarah Rafique KTRK logo
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Most of Houston's protest arrests were locals
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13 Investigates looked at local arrests during the first night of protests in Houston.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As protests in the wake of George Floyd's death continued in Minneapolis and across the U.S. this week, 13 Investigates looked at local arrests during the first night of protests in Houston.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Monday that "individuals who come to Texas from out of state to engage in looting, violence or other destructive acts in violation of federal law will be subject to federal prosecution."

"Texans must be able to exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of having agitators, including those coming from out-of-state, hijack their peaceful protest," Abbott said in a statement with four U.S. Attorneys.

In Houston, though, 13 Investigates found less than two percent of protest-related arrests were from out-of-state individuals.

Over the weekend, the Houston Police Department made 412 arrests related to the protests, according to city officials. Only 15 percent of arrests were Texans who live outside the Houston-area. The rest were Houstonians.

"On Friday, I think we had 20 people from outside of the city that were arrested," Acevedo told 13 Investigates' Ted Oberg between planning meetings. "Word to the wise, Houston is strong. Houston is tough and Houston from the Third Ward to the Fifth Ward, North, South, East and West - we're a no nonsense city. Our people here ... this melting pot of people will stand up for Houston."

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Protests were spurred by Floyd's death May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Video captured from a bystander shows an officer holding his knee on Floyd's neck as he cries that he can't breathe, and eventually stops moving.

Following his death, Black Lives Matter protests have taken place across the U.S. and in Houston, where Floyd grew up and will be laid to rest.

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death.

Across the U.S., ABC News canvassed other major cities and found in at least four others, people arrested at protests were overwhelmingly in-state residents, according to local officials and a review of arrest reports.

In Minneapolis, 85 percent of arrests were in-state residents, according to Minneapolis city government spokesperson Casper Hill. Fifteen arrests were confirmed to be from out of state, and three remain unknown.

In Miami, nearly 78 percent of the 92 arrests were confirmed to be Florida state residents, according to a department of corrections spokesperson.

In Dallas, only one of the 60 arrests was someone out of state, according to local officials. Two were listed as homeless. And in Oklahoma City, nearly 88 percent of arrests were in-state residents, according to Oklahoma City Police Department citations. In Houston, a majority of arrests from Friday's protest, which started in the afternoon and lasted more than nine hours, were millennials.

People 39 years and younger accounted for 94 percent of arrests, according to an analysis of arrest records.

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The most common offense was obstructing a highway or roadway, which accounted for 76 percent of arrests and carried a bond of $100 for each charge.

Evading arrest and interfering with public duties were the second most common charges.

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13 Investigates looked up records for each protest-related arrest Friday and found case information was entered into the Harris County District Clerk's website for 92 of the 140 arrests as of Monday afternoon.

Information on gender and race was available for # cases. Our analysis shows less than half of the arrests were African-Americans.

Specifically, 44 arrests were listed as White, 40 were listed as Black, two were Asian and one was listed as Brown. No arrests were marked Hispanic.

Floyd's family as well as community leaders are planning another protest Tuesday. It starts at 3 p.m. in the 1500 block of McKinney near Discovery Green. Thousands of people are expected to turn out and march, including Houston's police chief.

"I have been marching now for several days with our community and we've had people come in and try to agitate and I didn't have to do a thing because it was young African-American and men and women that actually helped control the crowd," Acevedo said, "and that's just a beautiful thing to watch."