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Arrested Protesters In Major Texas Cities Aren’t Outsiders, Data Show

Protesters join hands as they face police officers in San Antonio on May 30, 2020.
Kathleen Creedon | Texas Public Radio
Protesters join hands as they face police officers in San Antonio on May 30, 2020.

When protesters across the U.S. started marching through city streets late last month, demanding justice for George Floyd, state and local leaders sounded a familiar alarm. 

“The violence is coming into Texas from across state lines,” Gov. Greg Abbott said alongside Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson at Dallas City Hall on June 2.

San Antonio Metro Police Chief William McManus echoed that sentiment regarding protests in the Alamo City. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo participated in protests, but still pointed his fingers at rowdy participants, saying he believed they were actually from Austin — where he’d once worked.

But an analysis of arrest data shows the numbers tell a different story. Police departments in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio provided The Texas Newsroom arrest reports from May 30 to June 2. 

Of the 167 people apprehended during the first weekend of protests, only two have addresses outside Texas. (Additional reports from Houston — where officials say they are dropping charges for more than 600 protesters — were not made available.) 

While some Texans traveled to larger cities to participate in protests, only 10% live more than 50 miles away from the city where they were arrested. There are just 27% who live more than 25 miles away. 

While the myth of “outside agitators” isn’t new, the claim that Antifa is planting protesters across the country has spread, especially over social media

In Texas, the two arrested individuals who don’t have a Texas address are from Chicago and Satellite Beach, Florida.

Of the charges that resulted in those 167 arrests, only six were accused of violent offenses. Charges against 76 people were related to highway or roadway blockages.

The arrest reports that included age show 36 of the people apprehended were teenagers and 74 were in their 20s.

The few people in their 30s and 40s were responsible for more than half of the charges involving violence.

(Houston arrest reports did not include age and are not included in this graph.)

Protest-related arrests are now dwindling in the Lone Star State. Still, Texans remain in the streets marching, holding vigils and calling on their local leaders — some of the same local leaders who believe these activists are outsiders — to do something.

Bri Kirkham can be reached at or on Twitter at @BriKirk.TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.

Correction: There was a data error in an earlier version of this story. Of the 167 arrest reports, 10% live more than 50 miles away from the city where they were arrested.

Copyright 2020 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit Texas Public Radio.

Bri Kirkham comes to San Antonio after living most of her life in southern Indiana. She graduated from Ball State University with degrees in journalism and telecommunications.
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