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HPD explains how its officers handle protesters damaging property, disrupting the peace

Houston hasn't seen the violence and destruction some U.S. cities have had during George Floyd protests, but that doesn't mean HPD officers haven't had to step in.
Credit: KHOU
A protester holds a sign in front of Houston Police officers after the Peace March and Rally for George Floyd on June 2, 2020.

HOUSTON — Houston Police Department released a statement Thursday addressing how officers are handling acts of criminal activity during local protests over the death George Floyd.

“Tens of thousands have taken part in demonstrations throughout our city,” Police Chief Art Acevedo said. “The majority of demonstrations have been peaceful with participants loudly calling for change.”

Several demonstrations took place this week, including a march Tuesday in Discovery Green that attracted thousands of supporters and activists. 

Houston hasn't experienced the same level of violence and destruction as other cities have, but HPD officers have made arrests.

“Many cities are sadly dealing with incidents of violence and destruction, and restoring order and peace has been an enormous challenge,” Acevedo said.

Tuesday night police made 259 demonstration-related arrests, the department said. Those arrests included a range of criminal offenses, including obstruction of a public roadway, burglary of a building and assault on a peace officer.

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HPD said protesters engaging in illegal activity are first given a warning to stop. Demonstrators who are damaging property or demonstrating violent behavior are taken into custody immediately, the statement said.

HPD has deployed pepper spray in select situations. Acevedo added officers are not allowed to use tear gas without permission from the police chief, or his absence, his two executive assistant chiefs.

HPD officers have used sponge rounds, which are non-lethal sponge tipped bullets, according to the release. 

Like to tear gas, rubber bullets cannot be used without authorization from the police chief, the two executive assistant chiefs or the on-scene assistant chief.

Acevedo clarified that rubber bullets have not been used. 

He said both sponge rounds and pepper spray have only been used in certain situations.

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