Austin Police Interim Chief Brian Manley recently spoke out against the actions of demonstrators in Charlottesville.
“There is no room in this society for those types of violence--that type of bigotry--and that type of hatred,” he said. “I'm not here today to pass judgments on the actions of law enforcement in Charlottesville. I think there's too much that is not known yet as far as everything had transpired.”
With protests and rallies happening almost monthly in Austin, he says his officers are trained to pay close attention to details surrounding the events. That means monitoring social media to see if any counter protests are being planned, checking the number of people involved as well as teaming up with various other agencies.
APD also has a special response team that handles large crowds.
“The most critical thing you can do is keep the roaring crowds separated...tweaking through these kinds of events and adapting it through the realities of their city,” said Stratford Vice President Fred Burton. Stratfor is an Austin company that specializes in geopolitical intelligence.
But Manley feels one of the key factors to help protect the community, lies with the bonds they develop with organization leaders.
“We meet with them throughout the year--so we are not only meeting with them for a planned march or a planned protest or a planned meeting--and I think that's what important because that way when we are in the moment when we are at one of these events, if something is occurring or things seem to be going sideways, we know who to reach out to--who to speak to."
He says his department is aware of possible future rallies surrounding the Confederacy and they're watching those events closely. He says they will be staffed accordingly.
APD says its goal is to allow people to exercise their free speech but to do so in a safe manner.