AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Justice Coalition (AJC) hosted a rally at Huston-Tillotson University on Saturday evening.
The coalition said it was a chance for Austinites to voice their anger over police brutality, as a place to uplift the responding efforts in Memphis and to remember previous victims of police brutality in Austin. It started at 5 p.m.
At the rally, people held signs, showed remembrance and shared a display of anger at what they said are the unjust killings of Black and brown people.
"How many more examples of modern-day lynching do we actually need?" asked Chas Moore with the AJC. "Let's get rid of this evil in our society. Why do we keep trying to reform and fix something that can't be fixed?"
Liz Gonzales took to the podium. She lost her son, Alex, after he was killed by officers over what Austin police called a road-rage encounter two years ago. Earlier this week, Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon determined the officers involved would not face any discipline.
"Destroyed my family, they destroyed me. I'm not the same. I will never be the same. I see a cop, to me they're all the same," Gonzales said.
Moore wants the community to find other ways of staying safe that don't involve policing.
"Violence only begets violence. That is what they know, that's what they're used to. What they don't know is compassion and love and forgiveness," Moore said.
Rally attendees like Marilyn Wende see it as a responsibility to stand against what they see as injustice.
"Police are systemically killing Black and brown people, and so if we stay silent as white people, that's so irresponsible," Wende said.
These are injustices that a community believes will take a collective effort to combat.
"Power to the people. We will fight and we will continue to win, and all we need is one another," Moore said.
Congressman Greg Casar (D-Austin) joined the rally on Saturday. When asked how to solve the issue of police brutality at a legislative level, he said there needs to be a process that prevents killings like these.
"As we're hiring police officers in our community, [ensuring] that they're the kind of police officers that actually support community safety and oversight and accountability," Casar said.
The rally came as cities across the country held protests over the brutal killing of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, after video of the incident was made public on Friday. Organizers say they are fighting for accountability and systemic police reform.
“The Austin Justice Coalition is hosting this rally to provide an outlet to those that wish to express their anger at yet another unjust killing of a Black person at the hands of police, to uplift and support efforts in Memphis to respond to this tragedy and to connect people with ongoing struggles right here in Austin to end the scourge of police violence,” the ACJ said in a release.
Investigators say 29-year-old Nichols was beaten, pepper sprayed and Tased by five police officers during a traffic stop. The brutal attack went on for three minutes.
Nichols' mother is joining Memphis officials and President Joe Biden in calling for peaceful demonstrations.
Here's a link to a fundraiser to support Nichols' family as they seek mental health services and funds for a memorial skate park in honor of Nichols.