Demonstrations in Downtown Houston to honor the life of George Floyd, who was killed at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer last week, were largely peaceful.
Despite significant crowds, only a few restaurants in Downtown Houston and the Third Ward suffered minor property damage, mostly anti-police graffiti. Outside of Flying Idlis, a South Indian cafe in north Downtown, someone spray-painted the phrase “ACAB,” which stands for “all cops are bastards,” along with the number 12 (code for police) with an “X” through it. Similar graffiti was scattered throughout downtown and several other businesses, mostly chains, appeared to have suffered broken windows.
At Not Jus’ Donuts, a minority-owned bakery on Emancipation Avenue, someone tagged the building with “fuck you crackers” and “Fuck 12” near the entrance. The bakery’s owners posted in dismay to Facebook. “We are enraged,” they wrote. “We are a Black owned business....been on this block 20 years.”
Demonstrations in protest of police brutality started in Houston on Friday afternoon and continued sporadically throughout the weekend, At one point, traffic on US Interstate 59 through Downtown was completely closed down by demonstrators. Marches began at Emancipation Park and wound their way through Downtown towards City Hall.
The start location was significant as Emancipation Avenue, an important thoroughfare through Houston’s largely-black Third Ward neighborhood, was formerly named Dowling Street, after Confederate Army commander Richard Dowling. The street was renamed Emancipation Avenue in 2017. Emancipation Park was founded in 1872 by freed slaves who pooled their money to buy the property. For many years, it was the only municipal park available to black residents, and it remains an important gathering spot for Third Ward residents. Several of the businesses along Emancipation Avenue, many of them restaurants, are still black-owned.
Floyd, who died after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the back of his neck for eight minutes, was a Houston native and son of the Third Ward. He attended Jack Yates High School here, and gained local fame in the Houston rap scene alongside DJ Screw. His body will be flown back to Houston for burial.
On Tuesday, Houston rapper Trae tha Truth will lead another march in support of the Floyd family, starting at 3 p.m. at Discovery Green.