Gov. Abbott calls violent protesters 'outside agitators'

Tuesday will be a significant day in the aftermath of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody one week ago.

The Houston native's family will lead a march through downtown, along the same streets where on Friday night the demonstrations devolved into violence and on Saturday protesters walked alongside Houston Police.

On Monday night Gov. Greg Abbott spoke with ABC13 by phone to discuss the protests, not only here in Houston but also those in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio.

"It's a tragedy what we're seeing in Texas," Abbott said. "But, we need to put all of this in context because this is in the aftermath of a horrific act of police brutality that has stoked anger among all Americans."

The governor has declared a state of disaster, enabling the help of federal law enforcement if needed. And, he's deployed the National Guard to keep the peace.

"The National Guard is already located in major cities across Texas right now," Abbott said. "They will be increasing their numbers as the week progresses for the sole purpose of ensuring that people can go about this process in a very peaceful way that eliminates destruction of property. "

Abbott said he believes the vast majority of demonstrators are honoring the life and legacy of Floyd. He said they are exercising their first amendment rights, and he wants them to do that. He wants the focus where it should be, not on what he calls 'outside agitators,' who he said will face federal charges if they come to Texas from other states looking to stoke violence.

The governor believes Floyd's death could result in greater criminal justice reforms in Texas, so that from his death comes lasting change.

"George Floyd was held captive, begging for his life, and he should never have been killed," Abbott said. "And, there is absolutely no legitimate law enforcement purpose for what happened to George Floyd."
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