HOUSTON - HPD Chief Art Acevedo said the violence that erupted last week in Charlottesville, Virginia won’t happen in Houston.
“We will not stand idly by watching anyone deface of destroy public property or private property,” said Acevedo during a Friday news conference. “Or attack and physically injure other individuals.”
Black Lives Matter Houston organized a protest to call for the removal of the 'Spirit of the Confederacy' statue at Sam Houston Park. The group expects hundreds to show up Saturday at 3:00 p.m.
“The game plan is to have a standard protest,” said BLM Houston’s Ashton P. Woods. “We’ve always done this.”
But HPD is also preparing for any counter-protestors planning to show up to defend what they see as a symbol of their heritage. A group called This Is Texas Freedom Force posted a video on Facebook earlier in the week.
“We will send as many individuals as possible out to this location,” said an organizer.
“If you intend to come to Houston, Texas to exercise your First Amendment right to free speech, you’re welcome to be here,” said Chief Acevedo. “If you’re going to come to Houston, Texas to try and engage in any type of unlawful activity or violence, you’re not welcome here.”
HPD gave no specifics on the number of officers who will be at the protest. The chief did say that traffic should not be greatly impacted, just a couple of streets may be blocked.
No one will be allowed beyond the fence that surrounds the part of Sam Houston Park where the statue is located.