George Floyd, a proud son of Third Ward in Houston, Texas, was murdered in broad daylight and on camera by a police officer seven days ago. We, like you, were mortified to see yet another Black man have their life senselessly deprived of them. We, like you, were horrified to see another Black American pleading three fateful words that went ignored by the people our communities trust to protect us: I can’t breathe.
In the days since George Floyd was murdered, protests have intensified across the country. On Friday, those protests reached Texas, where growing tensions between police and protesters in Dallas led to the deployment of tear gas. An afternoon protest in Houston began peacefully but eventually gave way to tension later in the day, with over 200 people being placed under arrest. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner would later indicate that the majority of those arrested were caucasian, and that most had come from out of town in an effort to inflame and provoke protesters.
Things looked no rosier on Saturday, as protests continued to engulf cities across Texas. Governor Greg Abbott seemed more ready to respond with force than understanding with the announcement that he was deploying 1,500 state troopers to cities across the state.
An afternoon protest at the headquarters of the Austin Police Department spilled onto IH-35, shutting down traffic between 6th and 8th Streets in the Capitol corridor. For longtime residents of Austin, a city widely viewed as a laid-back oasis, it was a poignant moment that every city faces these challenges. That moment would eventually be interrupted with rubber bullets and pepper spray from police. Protests in San Antonio devolved until tear gas was deployed.
Protests erupted in cities across the country, from Los Angeles to Minneapolis to Louisville, Kentucky. Crowds have chanted, marched, and even sung church hymns, crying out to get our country to finally fess up to the fact that this doesn’t just happen in one city or some neighborhoods. The senseless, cold-blooded eradication of Black lives by police officers has touched every single community in this country. Every community knows the terror and heartbreak of moments like these.
In Texas, we’ve had to encounter this pain and anger at a rate that seems more frequent than most. When Breonna Taylor was shot multiple times by police inside her own home, we remembered Atatiana Jefferson, murdered in her own home in Fort Worth. We thought of Botham Jean, killed in his own apartment by his downstairs neighbor, an off duty police officer. We thought of David Joseph, an unarmed, naked teenager who was killed by a police shooting in Austin in 2016. We thought of the abuse Sandra Bland was forced to endure, and the systemic failures surrounding her death.
At Texas Signal, we are committed to taking tangible steps to ensure that our reporting on racial justice issues aligns with our core founding principle: that the people of Texas have been failed by bad government and disinformation, and deserve better.
To accomplish that goal we’re going to spend time:
- Identifying and highlighting voices from within Black communities that want to tell their story.
- Exploring what it means for our company and our society to be anti-racist, and what that must look, sound and feel like for our staff and readers.
- We’ll do that by continuing to build an inclusive newsroom and working with members of every community in Texas to tell their stories and fill the coverage gap in Texas media.
- Providing training, resources and support for staff on anti-bias and anti-racist reporting, and internally investigating notable examples of biased reporting in Texas legacy media.
- Ensuring that diverse communities are represented in our reporting by continuing to develop relationships with communities of color to cultivate journalistic sources as well contributions to our opinion pages.
- Curating the Texas Signal online experience to ensure it is a progressive and positive environment for our readers and instituting a zero tolerance policy towards any form of harassive or hateful speech in our social media comments sections.
- Supporting the work of community and political organizations devoted to building a better Texas that can belong to everyone.
- Defeating the right-wing noise machine and remaining committed to facts.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be covering the aftermath of this weekend’s protests, as well as take a look back on the recent history of police violence in Texas. We’ll be bringing you unique reporting and opinion pieces, and above all we’ll be standing with our community to state unequivocally that Black lives matter, and to help create the change every Texan deserves.
The Texas Signal Staff
If you’d like to support the George Floyd Family Memorial Fund please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd
If you’d like to take action now, these organizations are a good place to start:
400+1 Federation Bail Fund
TOP Community Bailout Fund for protesters in Dallas, Harris and Bexar Counties
Faith in Texas Dallas Bail Fund
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund
ACLU of Texas
Texas Civil Rights Project
Black Lives Matter – Houston
Black Lives Matter – Austin
Austin Justice Coalition
Black Mamas ATX
Houston Bail Fund
Ready for a better government? Organizations to get involved with now:
If you’d like to support efforts specifically in Minnesota, where George Floyd was tragically murdered, please check out the following organizations:
Photo Credit: George Floyd’s niece Gabrielle Thompson (C) reacts during a “Justice for George Floyd” event in Houston, Texas on May 30, 2020. (Photo by Mark Felix / AFP) (Photo by MARK FELIX/AFP via Getty Images)