Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott this afternoon issued a state of disaster declaration following the protests around the state which turned violent and are endangering the public and threatening property loss, according to the governor.
This declaration authorizes federal authorities to act as Texas peace officers.
“Every Texan and every American has the right to protest and I encourage all Texans to exercise their First Amendment rights,” said Abbott in a news release.
“However, violence against others and the destruction of property is unacceptable and counterproductive. As protests have turned violent in various areas across the state, it is crucial that we maintain order, uphold public safety, and protect against property damage or loss. By authorizing additional federal agents to serve as Texas Peace Officers we will help protect people’s safety while ensuring that peaceful protesters can continue to make their voices heard,” he said.
On Saturday, Abbott called up more than 1,500 Texas Department of Public Safety troopers to help control protests over the death of Houston native George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.
Abbott has already ordered the deployment of thousands of DPS troopers to Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin — the cities with the largest protest presence. The governor also activated the National Guard.
Abbott later issued another news release Sunday announcing the deployment of tactical teams from the FBI to assist local law enforcement “in response to escalating protest violence,” the news release states.
“Texans First Amendment rights are absolute and will always be protected,” Abbott said. “But violence, vandalism, and looting will not be tolerated in this state and those found in violation of the law will be arrest and prosecuted,” he said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to include new information about FBI tactical teams being deployed throughout the state.