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Mayor speaks about Austin protests after troopers clash with demonstrators

Troopers in riot gear could be seen in videos clashing with protesters on Saturday.

AUSTIN, Texas — Protests ramped up this weekend in Downtown Austin. 

A large police presence, including Texas Department of Public Safety troopers in riot gear, clashed at times with angry protesters who are rallying to end police violence and to defund the Austin Police Department.

Some protesters also showed up this weekend with assault-style rifles.

"To begin with, no one deserves to die who's out peacefully protesting," said Austin Mayor Steve Adler as he joined KVUE Daybreak on Monday. "But I am concerned when I see anybody downtown with these long rifles, whether they're protesters, people protecting protesters or counter-protesters. I just think that, you know, even then I recognize there are First and Second Amendment rights, and then statutory entitlements, but it makes me nervous to see so many guns displayed so prominently in our downtown. We have too many guns. And I and I wish people would leave them home."

WATCH: Protests continue in Downtown Austin, week after deadly shooting

Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk is proposing reallocating more than about $11 million from the Austin PD. Some councilmembers want to take money away from the police department's bomb squad

"I don't think we should we should defund the police or the bomb squad," Adler told KVUE. "But I do think we need to take a look at how we do policing, because I think there are things we ask our police officers to do that we shouldn't be asking them to do. Our police officers should not be how our city interacts with mental health. Our police officers should not be social workers. I think there are better ways for our city to do that with people that are trained in those skills."


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Adler said he hopes those questions are a part of the budget discussion. He said he also supports "taking our dollars and investing them in ways that keep us safe."

"... To the degree that we have an increase in violent crime in this city, it's related to domestic violence," Adler said. "Additional officers don't help with domestic violence. If we increase the capacity of organizations like SAFE that provide shelter, take people out of dangerous situations and give them a place to safely be, we probably would do more to help with domestic violence. But right now, the city doesn't have the capacity to do that."

Protesters could be seen Saturday night marching along Interstate 35, outside the APD headquarters, at the Texas State Capitol and even outside Councilmember Kathie Tovo's house. Austin police said they arrested 35 people on Saturday during protests.


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