“Welcome” to the Police State of 6ixth

“Welcome” to the Police State of 6ixth

It’s a warm and breezy Saturday night in Austin on Texas Relays Weekend. We did up a special store window at Wild About Music in Bob Marley + hip hop theme to welcome our 40,000-ish athletes, families and guests to town like every year. Daytime business was great, both Friday and today. But by 6pm things died off to nothingness and never revived by the time we normally close at 9pm. Totally deadsville. Absolutely not the norm for a weekend evening in Spring.  So we hit the street to see wazzup.
Whoa! 8:00pm and 6ixth is fully barricaded with hardly a trickle of folks on the sidewalks, let alone anyone walking up the traffic lanes yet. And clusters of cops — everywhere.  Block after block after block.

Every single car parked along E6th, and on every side street between Brazos and IH-35, is being towed. Let’s just guess 50 cars…at $250 a pop to get it back from the nasty doberman-run-yard in far-east or deep-south Austin…and that’s about a cool $12,500 in extra gravy business for the wrecker deamons — thanks, APD!
As I slowly walk the street’s six historic blocks, I take particular note of places that are closed, which normally would be open, on a sizzling Saturday night. Without question, the grand prize goes to the Blind Pig and Shakespeare’s Pub which are not just closed, but also friggin’ BOARDED UP! I kid you not. Watts Riot / Hurricane Ike style plywood over all openings! As if that lovely awning over Shakespeare’s wasn’t the biggest eyesore on the Street today, the plywood really completes that perfect slum look. Even the gypsy t-shirt “shop” and Black Cat Tattoo Parlor across the street look like they’ve been spooked into closing for the weekend. I hear they are all off on some annual “retreat”. LOL. Finding religion, no doubt.

Moving eastward through intersections of massive plastic barricades weighted with water fillings thanks to AFD, I soon find myself in the totally desolate — but still barricaded and towed clean — blocks east of Red River. The Boiling Pot signage says “Open 11-11 Fri & Sat”. But not THIS Saturday night. All dark and shut down tight at 8:30 and may have been that way all day for all I know.
All the way over at IH-35 there are flashing lights and barricades pretty much everywhere in all directions.  That nice big surface parking lot beneath the freeway – recently having undergone a complete makeover and now sporting those sweeping aluminum poles under the road with glowing blue lights? — yep, you guessed right, CLOSED down by APD.  Why should cars be allowed to park there?  Better that they sit in gridlock on the access roads as drivers try to figure out where the f**k they’re supposed to circle to next.

Fortunately for the guests who still choose to patronize our street despite these very ominous welcome conditions, it’s business as usual at El Sol y La Luna, Esther’s Follies, Iron Cactus, Alamo-Ritz, Maggie Mae’s and Parkside — some of the great experiences you can always count on when visiting E6th. And I must say that the Sanderson family has done a marvelous job of facade restoration and integration on their newly opened The Stage venue, all beautifully lit up with a country band visible and audible through the windows (not sure they’ll see a packed house tonight but, hey, ya never know).

On my walk back westward, I am compelled to ask one of the officers in a group of 10 or so huddled into the center of these orange and white runaway-truck-type barricades what they are for? I’ve never seen them before. He replies that, at around midnight tonight, APD is expecting “10,000 or so hyper young athletes and their friends to start running…racing…back and forth down the street from end to end. Like gazelles, they will be leaping over these barricades. Often the surrounding crowd gets trampled in the process. These barricades are to help split up the crowd as they are running, as well as to protect the officers while they duck behind them for protection.”
No shit? This I gotta see. Heading back into the street for a witching hour update once I post this story and pics. Hey – I was raised in Detroit. I love to mingle. :-)

THE MIDNIGHT UPDATE

Phew.  Just back from another wander up and down the street.  And I gotta say: it’s a whole LOT more crowded out there now! It took an hour to walk six blocks in two directions.  At times, totally at a standstill for several minutes — like a human IH-35 –usually where there was a DJ spinning some fine tunes in one of the venues.

By far, most of the action is out on the street, not inside any of the businesses.  The young folks are all dressed up and steppin’ out to see and be seen.  Bicep to bicep, it’s one mass of sweaty bodies out there.  And I can tell you this: there is no way any “hyper young athletes” are going running down any section of that street.

With this further observation I can say that having all the cops out there keeping an eye on things is definitely a good idea.  I do think they get started way to early, though, with the mass presence of blue uniforms.  It sets an ominous tone that ruins the vibe until all the crowds finally show up and “cover up” all the APD squads.  Also, the groupings of 10 seems wrong:  walking single file in formation…lined up on the stoops in front of closed buildings…arranged in a circle in their mid-street pens.  Oh, and did I mention additional squads perched high up on the rooftops of several buildings in each block…cameras, binoculars and radios all buzzing away?

I found the vast majority of all the kids out there to be friendly, smiling, polite and just hanging out after a long day or three intensely competing in the Clyde Littlefield relays up on the UT campus.  And the scantily clad ladies were certainly doing their best to make all them boys grin ear to ear.  I’m also glad to see some groupings of porta-potties on several of the side streets; they were being used.

In closing, I can’t help but wonder if there is some way to turn several years of excessive anxiety and hysteria into something potentially more positive.  Maybe actually setting up a few stages on some of the side streets and have DJs playing music these kids want to hear?  Hand out Gatorade and water.  Everything is already blocked off anyway.  At least they can dance for a few hours rather than just stand along the curbs or try to walk back and forth on parade.  Many are too young to get into the clubs anyway.  I saw little money being spent anywhere except at the half-dozen convenience stores where there were lines outside and a beleaguered clerk at the door, locking and unlocking the entrance to let a couple people in as a couple people left.

We Austinites should work a little harder to throw these kids a friendly end-of-day party for a couple hours to say: hey, welcome, thanks for being here and for bringing your talent to our town.  That’s the Austin vibe I know and it was felt throughout an equally crowded SXSW just a couple weeks ago.

avatar About Fred Schmidt

Fred Schmidt is co-owner, with wife and business partner, Shelley Meyer, of Wild About Music Art & Gift Gallery on East 6th St - now celebrating 22 years in Downtown Austin - as well as the newer Austin Rocks boutique in the 2nd Street District. Concurrently he is also a Partner in Capital Factory, Austin's premier incubator/accelerator facility for startups, already located in the proposed new Innovation District. He serves as a board member of the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA), the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (DANA), and is a past Vice Chair of 6ixth Street Austin. He thinks this is one of the best places in the world to live, work and play! Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not reflect the positions of any affiliated organizations.

Comments

  1. To summarize everyone’s concerns and perspectives on both sides of the debate and meld it into a single mindset, I will attempt to provide further understanding to show that no one is wrong here; everyone is stating a perspective from their own experience.

    To provide a cohesive and comprehensive answer to the entire situation, i will say this:

    Racism and prejudice exists everywhere, that is not what is in question here; every single human being is constantly balancing an act of safety/risk from their own experience versus what each and every one of us grasp and learn based on education and self reflection of social progress.

    If you see a group of black men middle of the night on the streets dressed like gang members and you are alone, would you approach them?

    If you see a group of black men in a library all with books in their hands and reading philosophy but still dressed like gangbangers, are you not more calm and feel less threatened and possibly have no qualms approaching them?

    is situational racism and prejudice really the issue here?

    Austin is at fault for not coming up with a better plan to cater to the relay weekend but that proportion of fault is a very small slice of the entire pizza.

    Racism and cultural diversity(the lack thereof) is a national and historical problem; the relay weekend is an example where that national problem is being dumped on Austin, which is likely the smallest city in Texas to host this event and with less resources comparatively to dallas and houston to provide for this event.

    Majority of the athletes in these relays are African American; they have friends, acquaintances, family and classmates who they are in contact with but may not be as fortunate as them and due to a variety of socioeconomic, education, and family upbringing issues fell in with the wrong crowd; that wrong crowd is the darker negative element of the relay weekend.

    These athletes will have more people they are in contact with that have not fell to into the wrong crowd but every bag of apples will have one or two bad ones and when you have this many athletes; the bad apple number that shows up in our city can get quite large.

    APD is the enforcement and law/order branch of our city; they provide security; they don’t don’t devise the overarching plan as far as what Austin can do to cater to the relay weekend.

    local businesses pay taxes and are privately funded and should also have a right to protect themselves and their business.

    The responsibility ultimately resides with the city taking the first step and leading the planning and trying to find a better solution and businesses will follow.

    Our city isn’t tasked to solve racism; we are tasked to make sure that we are continuously moving forward in a positive way and doing what we can to improve and diversify our city for those that visit us and those that call Austin home.

    The larger socioeconomic issues of our society is a world problem and we are simply one city amongst many cities doing our part.

  2. Well said Allison! Well said! The employee’s of downtown know what really happens during Texas Relay’s. Fred Schmidt’s article is not “REFLECTIVE” and his opinion. Thanks for putting the Texas Relay’s back in true perspective!

  3. let me tell you what i work downtown and i have seen all kinds of insane crap on weekends. i worked texas relays in 2010 and it was the hardest i have ever worked, for people who act like they are entitled to everything, this is not being racist, this is about the people that come for this.

    there were some white or hispanic people in there, but they were in there just the same and i hated them to. everything that could be stolen, was. vandalism, violence, we had some people fighting the cops saw it and were too occupied with other things to bother with it so they went on their way to something else without stopping.

    the crime rates are low because apd is out there trying to keep a riot from breaking out, they aren’t actually writing tickets or arresting people if they can either break up fights or ignore it for it to work out on its own.

    this is why, not because there is actually less crime, there is for a fact more crime. more theft, loss of revenue. this is not a typical weekend where you make money working downtown, i know cabbies who refuse to pick up anywhere downtown and not just because of the traffic. people that complain when you turn the meter on and it shows the initial rate for the first 1/8th mile of near 3$.

    these people block traffic, they pop their trunks… open their lambo, or maybe not lambo, doors while theyre riding down the road. they may hang out of the cars, they have really crappy speakers mounted in their grills spewing an awful megaphone sound into the air. sometimes they stop and try to have an impromptu car show or whatever. this is why apd was making sure this year to keep the roads clear.

    someone was one their way to work downtown a few years ago and caught behind a blockade.. people were fighting. a bullet went through their windshield and into their passenger seat. they were late for work.

    i did not work for texas relays this year, 2011, i will never go downtown as long as we host this event. i support anyone who closes up shop for this event, i am not just tired from sxsw, sxsw is good and profitable. there is nothing good to come from texas relays, it is just a better decision overall to close up shop. i don’t want to put up with ‘those people’. again, this is not being racist, as im not. this is against the national ghetto convention which texas relays has become.

    i say it makes the most sense to just close, and for people worried about the image this shows of austin…. what i say is this says we here in austin don’t take kindly to yall comin here and disrespecting us and our town, causing all this mayhem and stealing and vandalizing our property, abusing our residents.

    we don’t need them here, maybe we’ll get an image to where they won’t come back. i sure hope so, but i know as long as we have texas relays i will never be downtown during it.

  4. avatar Pedicabber says:

    I loved Allison’s comments — she took the words out of mouth. With respect to the original author of the post, you sound like a visitor to a foreign land who waltzes in knowing nothing about the culture you’re visiting who then spends all of his time judging the way things are done there without context.

    You cite the huge police presence and then mention how nothing went terribley wrong so it was unneeded. The police huddle in huge groups on purpose. It’s called increased visibility and it is a (smart) preventative measure. Also, the stampedes are absolutely real. On Saturday night I was caught in two different stampedes on sixth caused by gun scares. Both of these stampedes caused me to drop my expensive bike/pedicab and abandon it while trying to run with the flow of the stampede.

    And for the information of other commentators, stating the realities does not make one a racist. I have not a racist bone in my body. I pedicabbed the entire Urban Fest during that Saturday and I enjoyed every minute of it — I found the people to be nicer than my usual rides. But people fear night on Texas Relay weekends for a reason.

    And to help you understand, businesses don’t close because they’re racist; they close because no one at Texas Relays goes into bars. They just hang out in the street for free and drink things they brought, or they go into the hip hop dance clubs. This is why you see the bars like Shakespears and Maggies closed. They are not clubs. Do you want them to stay open and lose money to make you feel good about yourself? They are not charities. Do you really think they’re closing because they’re racist? What would a racist be doing running a business on “dirty Sixth” in the first place!? Use some common sense.

  5. For everyone complaining about relay weekend you seem to be forgetting about all the news coverage surrounding all the chaos and riots at the sxsw functions,made my husband very uneasy about attending. Maybe we as austinites should plan activities better as we do for sxsw. Oh yeah black and spanish children do have money to spend and so do their parents who also attends. I have a daughter who works retail and her bosa told me that they always make a killing on relay weekends along with their outlet stores in RR and SA. Stop being so scarry austin and lets planbetter to make good money. My neighbor the taco snow cone man said he also did well. This year there were alot of white people banging the block and swanging blocking traffic and riding on top of cars,i got the pics to prove it. Be blessed

    • avatar DownTownie says:

      Was that English? I’m not entirely sure.

    • avatar Christopher Head says:

      I do well during relays as a pedicabber. Alot of the customers from the relays tip me well and honestly a lot of the locals who want to go to other districts tip me well because they don’t want to mess with the crowds on 6th. Lets be honest though, there have always been problems during relays and stampedes happen all of the time. The cops are quite tolerant of this during the relays. An example of how the cops handle it on the regular nights. Here is a video of the cops attacking a car full of very tiny women http://youtu.be/G38-PiTvOBA. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get the part where they were smashing her windshield with batons. You can also see the cops just create a bunch of mayhem. These girls in the car were trying to get away from a scene where hundreds of people where throwing items at their car and rocking it back and forth. Bad handling by the cops.

  6. It seems like the only ones overreacting here are the people crying racism and xenophobia. So a few business owners decided to close. It’s their loss. The vast majority didn’t however. Also, as others have mentioned, APD’s presence was no different than for any other big event. The city has nothing to be ashamed of, and sponsors the Urban Music Festival which drew 12,000 folks this year. Take a look at these photos of 6tgh during the relays. You can tell these folks feel really oppressed by all the racism surrounding them….
    http://www.indmix.biz/album11/040911/index.html
    http://www.indmix.biz/album11/040911a/index.html
    http://www.indmix.biz/album11/040811c/index.html
    http://www.indmix.biz/album11/040811d/index.html

  7. For anyone reading this who is quick to make a judgment based on one person’s account of Texas Relays, I suggest that you search out other people’s opinions and experiences for this weekend. I am a young, good-looking girl who has worked downtown in bars and during Texas Relays for the last 4 years. My favorite story to tell about relays was last year, when walking 2 doors down to see a friend, gunshots are heard, and I am slammed up against the front of a building in a stampede of people.

    In response to what you have written, I would also like to offer my opinion on some of the points you mentioned. First, by your own admission, your nighttime business “died off to nothingness” by 6 p.m. In your after midnight update, you said that you noticed: “by far, most of the action is out on the street, not inside any of the businesses.” Our business is significantly less (and I stress SIGNIFICANTLY) than a normal weekend night. We run with less than 1/3 the number of bartenders and almost double the door and security staff. I would like to point out the fact that our normal crowd (college kids and tourists) picks up around 9:30-11, which is well after your closing time. When your business closes at 9 p.m., I think it is easier of you to criticize a business of which you have no familiarity of working at or owning. You are very quick to condemn businesses mentioned in this article for being closed, but will readily admit that there was no business to be had. To compare it to SXSW is absurd. SXSW is one of our busiest weekend in sales of the entire year. Texas Relays is our slowest weekend in sales of the entire year. You suggest the atrociousness of businesses that closed for Friday and Saturday night but I have to point out the ignorance of you commenting on something which you are so unfamiliar with. (Additionally, if you were to take a trip or vacation, would it be fair for bar owners to criticize you for closing up your gift shop? Or would it be none of our business?)

    As someone who works downtown on E. 6th Street on the blocks that you were walking for your article, I am in disbelief of your criticism of APD. Before they tow cars, there are signs posted for days ahead of time letting people know that the locations and times that they will be towing. I’m not sure how much more forward they can be. It’s not APD’s fault, but more user error. In response to your comment that APD gets “started way too early,” I was wondering when you would like them to come out? Anyone who has worked in any capacity where you’re planning security knows that you have to prepare ahead of time. For you to criticize them for being prepared is ridiculous. As a downtown worker, I am extremely gracious to the APD every weekend, and this one in particular. They are not excited to be down there, putting themselves in harms way, and you should have more respect for the fact that they are doing their job well, instead of suggesting they are doing something wrong by doing their job well. It seems like everyone (from APD to the city to local business owners) needs to check with you before they act? These “groupings” that you refer to are also how APD sets up for Halloween, Mardi Gras, etc. They have posts on the roofs, line-ups in front of buildings and “groupings” in the streets for multiple downtown events every year. These are things that you would know as a downtown nightlife worker, but I understand that as someone who runs a daytime business, you might be further removed from certain aspects of things you talk about in your article.

    To specifically call out Shakespeare’s Pub as the “biggest eyesore on the Street today” shows a lack of local business owner support. Doesn’t that go against the “Austin vibe” that you refer to at the end of your article? I’m not sure if you have taken a leisurely stroll down E. 6th, but there’s a LARGE EMPTY LOT filled with trash and bums across the street from Shakespeare’s! To say that one of the highest grossing businesses on 6th Street is a bigger eyesore than an abandoned empty lot is pretty ridiculous, as well as rude and unsupportive. Please practice what you preach as far as this “Austin vibe.”

    As a young girl working at a bar on east Sixth, I would not feel comfortable suggesting for my friends to come out that weekend. I highly doubt that you would suggest for your college-age daughter or your friends’ daughters to come out. I say this based solely on my experiences working down there, although this should carry more weight than most people who are judging businesses mentioned in this article. I have heard from my friends working at other bars that there was gunshots, a stabbing, and the largest fight ever experienced on the rooftop deck of an open establishment that you mentioned. Where are your reports on the crime of this weekend? You suggest “setting up a few stages” and “handing out Gatorade and water” as possible things to do. I suggest next year you open your business until 2 a.m., maybe set up a stage with a band and hand out free drinks. I’d like to see your review of Texas Relays after that.

    • Well said. The only reason the APD and local businesses take the precautions/actions they do is because of its track record. They’re not going “ZOMG there’s a bunch of black people coming to town, let’s overreact.” Relays weekend has a history of violence and un-Austiny behavior (name another time a mall was shut down due to gunfire). How else are people supposed to react to it? People have a right to protect their property and I’m glad APD was out, as I’m glad when they’re out on halloween, etc. It’s easy to pull out the race card for this one, but that’s a cop-out. This all comes down to the relays’ track record.

  8. avatar Jason Jones says:

    Last year I was stuck in traffic at the corner of Brazos and 7th Street from 2:15 to 3:00am because some people decided to have an impromptu street party and parked cars to block the intersection. There were people dancing on the roofs of cars, throwing bottles in the air, throwing bottles out of car windows, you name it. Security at the Driskill finally called the police and had them break up the party.

    This is the sort of stuff that only happens the weekend of Texas Relays, and it’s sad because the relays themselves are a nice event.

  9. avatar Gabrielle Tetrick says:

    This does not make me embarrassed, after the traffic issues I had to deal with on Saturday night in which I was forced to call 311, and then 911 5 minutes later, due to ignorant people in the middle of the road during traffic. Stopping in the middle of an exit ramp to get out of your car and go screw around is unacceptable! I even saw one man riding on the hood of another vehicle! It is no wonder why businesses on 6th street do not want to open their doors for a mess like such! I would close my doors in a heart beat too! Most individuals competing in Texas Relays are under the age of 21 so the business the bars are receiving is not from the athletes, therefore they are not receiving the benefits of the “Austin scene”. Its ignorance that ruins good times for everyone else. APD & businesses wouldn’t be forced to take such drastic measures if it wasn’t for the mass influx of people causing problems downtown. And reading Peter’s comment.. I wasn’t the only one experiencing erratic behavior downtown.

  10. avatar Peter Smit says:

    We were visiting Austin for the weekend, and got stuck in traffic on 1st street, trying to get out of town at 10pm.

    We saw cars with neon lights and 30 inch TV screens hopping sidewalks, driving very erratically, and even stopping side by side by side for long periods, just to completely block traffic.

    Yeah, a large number of people may have just wanted to have a good time, but I, for one, was not at ease. Thank you APD for being there.

  11. Talk with the people who work in the bars on 6th all the time and listen to what they have to say about this particular weekend. That’s when you’ll get the truth about how the relays affect their business.

    • This is EXACTLY correct. Stay open and lose money or close and take the weekend off? Should the city subsidize clubs this weekend so Austin looks better? Should the relays just move to Houston or Dallas?

      Whatever happens, the city did a great job preparing the police force and an awful job in helping out local businesses. Something needs to change, but in the meantime, don’t blame these businesses for learning from the past.

      • avatar Lance Hunter says:

        No, it’s not correct.

        Speaking as someone who has worked on 6th during a few relay weekends, I can say that they weren’t terrible for business. Really, our takes tended to be about average for a spring weekend. Sure, that’s a disappointment when you consider the giant crowds outside, but then the managers and owners didn’t do anything to try and attract that crowd.

        My experience tends to show that the bars and clubs that do the worst on relay weekend are those that either:

        1) React out of fear/racism, overstaff of security (while giving their security team, generally guys with too much testosterone, big speeches about how this is a dangerous weekend where they will need to be a lot more aggressive than usual), and generally turn their bars into unwelcoming environments

        2) Give their venues over to inexperienced party promoters that don’t know how to handle things properly. (A lot of problems with club overcrowding, crowds upset because of late/cancelled acts, etc are the result of party promoters who were in over their heads.)

        Let’s not forget, for all the ruckus that did occur during some of its rougher years, relay weekend never got as rowdy at Mardi Grad did back during the couple of years riots broke out. Businesses that treat it like some kind of coming armageddon are just giving in to unfounded fears. They’re reacting to anecdotes about particular instances that get repeated over and over instead of looking at overall picture. I wish that I could say that it was just their loss, but they make this whole city look bad.

        • I have worked on 6th street for Texas Relays. Thankfully not this year because It. Is. Horrible.

          In the service industry, you learn to brush off disrespectful customers, but I remember last year having to take a 30 minute break on a busy night because I was getting yelled at by customers all night. I had to cool off in the alley before going back for more abuse. The attitude of the customers/6th St. workers/police is a chicken and egg thing I guess, but it’s not pleasant.

          And it does cost money for a business to stay open. The writer of this piece closed at 9PM! The business I worked for stays open until about 3AM. Last year there were several (what we called) stampedes on 6th (so those barricades are totally necessary–and seemed to do their job this year!), where thousands of people ran in one direction down the street. The front door at my job was destroyed from the momentum of stampeders forcing it past its range of motion. It was glass, and was shattered. By the way, did we all forget 2008 when someone was shot and killed at 6th and Neches?

          And finally, tips: Usually: 13%. Texas Relays weekend: 3%.

          There is a serious problem with Texas Relays weekend. The writer seems to assign full blame to APD and downtown businesses, but let’s be honest and spread some blame. Even NAACP President Lender was on KAZI this morning acknowledging that lots of problems are not the fault of APD, COA, or local businesses.

  12. avatar Fred Schmidt says:

    Thanks for your comments everyone. Many additional good points being made. Just to be clear: my desire is not to be critical, per se — of APD or anyone else (well, except maybe of the businesses that closed who would normally be open). The whole idea is to be REFLECTIVE… of what we can do better as a community to make this event feel much more welcome here. This is all about 40,000 good people visiting our city to compete hard and then have a good time. Are we really doing the best that we can with this opportunity? I don’t think so. In any large gathering there are always going to be a few bad apples — usually folks unaffiliated with the event itself but who are party-crashers. That, of course, needs to be isolated and dealt with. But let’s show the other 99.9% of our guests the welcome they deserve so that they will keep spreading the good word about our fine and friendly city. I look forward to a proper debriefing with APD and City leaders to really think this thing through some more.

  13. Thanks for this post, Fred; this is a great summary of what was wrong with Austin this weekend. I run a fleet of pedicabs, and the only reason we made any less money this weekend than a normal spring weekend was arbitrary APD shutdowns of our usual streets: without explanation or advanced warning, we weren’t allowed to cross 6th anywhere between I35 and Brazos. If I visited a town and it treated me as Austin treated our visitors this weekend, I’d act a whole lot less politely than our visitors this weekend did!

    -Luke Iseman
    Owner, Dirtnail Pedicabs

    • avatar Jacob Coleman says:

      I guess yours is not one of the pedicabs that 5 people got on and jumped up and down until they broke it? How can you whine about not being able to cross over 6th when half the time people couldn’t even walk down the street without it taking 10-20 minutes to make a block? You could have got through that?

  14. avatar david porter says:

    Wow, makes me embarrassed to be an Austinite.

  15. avatar Jacob Coleman says:

    Most of the kids have no money to spend so all they can do is walk around. I understand shop keepers controlling the number of people in and out of their stores. If you can get 100 people together on a slow night downtown you can go to hit the jewelry stores on Congress and there is no way APD can stop it or catch everyone involved. ANY dozen or so people can go into a 7/11 and they can snach and run with beer, smokes, drinks or what ever to excape outside in the crowd. Mob mentality and it’s the same no matter color. APD is not going to arrest anyone unless it is for MAJOR crime or assault. They have reason to fear the black community. I’m black makes for a good excuse for any time you don’t like what is said or done. All you had to do is be out there on the streets and see people that were NOT athletes but more like thugs running in packs. Traffic was scary with them swaying in the streets, going against traffic just by turning on their flashers and doing whatever they wanted. It’s Not relay people but the opportunity for the elements it also draws that people are afraid of. The thugs and kids don’t spend money and lots of people are afraid of the other few that are here just to be seen and cause problems. What you don’t think gang members come? If only 1 in 1000 are dangerous in their behavior that’s a lot of problems. The same could be said about any large group of people. Just wait for ROT Bikers the same applies to them. Bad gang bunches run in their packs too BUT they have adult maturity helping them. APD lets them run amuck too. Not a killing or beat down ignore it! But they can go in bars and do have money to spend so 6th welcomes them more.

  16. avatar Lance Hunter says:

    Austin xenophobia? Let’s not sugar-coat it. This is Austin racism. It’s a damned shame that the city has just never been able to properly figure out how to handle the relay weekend. There’s either been absurd under-preparation (like when I was bouncing on 6th in 2002, when APD just treated it like a regular Saturday night, not even closing off the street until almost 11, ultimately letting the crowds completely overwhelm everything), or times like this where things get completely overdone.

    Honestly, though, I think the buisinesses are the ones messing up more than APD. Boarding up in anticipation of the crowds of black kids? That’s just shameful. I certainly won’t be going to any of those spots anytime soon.

    • avatar Lance Hunter says:

      Expanding on that, APD may be over-responding a bit, but at least they are taking steps towards crowd control this time around. Nothing wrong with treating relay weekend just like the other big 6th St events, like Halloween & Mardi Gras. It’s dissappointing that the businesses aren’t taking the same view of things. Instead of trying to get the extra dollars that will be out on the street this weekend, they’re panicking.

  17. avatar Kristen says:

    Wow. Austin xenophobia at it’s best. How embarrassing. I’ve got to get ot of this city…

  18. Great reporting! I was out last night bar hopping, which I rarely do cause I can find one spot I like and will stay at. But every bar was dead, so we didnt want to stay at any one place for very long.

    The city has a great opportunity with all these people coming to town, but they’ve handled it totally backwards.

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