AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Eight people were arrested on Saturday as White Lives Matter protesters were confronted by counter-demonstrators supporting Black Lives Matter at the Texas State Capitol near where Gov. Greg Abbott had earlier dedicated a monument recognizing the contribution of African-Americans to the state.
Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Victor Taylor said four of the arrests were for assault, two for evading arrest, one for disorderly conduct and one for “interference with public duty.” Two of those arrested were on Capitol grounds and the others on adjacent streets.
“Some protesters assaulted other protesters,” Taylor said. “We don’t know for sure which side they were on. A lot of them were co-mingled.”
Austin police and state troopers dressed in riot gear had tried to keep the two groups separated.
Taylor said the confrontation did not affect the unveiling of the monument, which was in a different part of the grounds.
About two dozen individuals with the White Lives Matter group demonstrated against what they called the unequal application of hate crimes laws, which they say are applied in a way that favors minorities. The group said it was a coincidence that its protest was held at about the same time as the ceremony for the monument.
The White Lives Matter group was shouted down by a group of several hundred counter-protesters, who held up signs that said “Stand Against Hate” and “Black Lives Matter.”
During the unveiling ceremony, Abbott told a crowd in attendance that the monument honors African-Americans who helped grow Texas.
“The fact is African Americans have shaped this land that we are on today since long before it was even named the state of Texas. They fought for their own freedom. They fought for the freedom of Texas and the freedom of the United States of America,” Abbott said.
The monument is located on the Capitol’s south lawn, close to other monuments that honor Confederate soldiers for their service during the Civil War.
The new monument features the African-American experience in Texas, from exploration in the 1500s to slavery and emancipation to achievement in arts and science.
It will be the 21st monument on the Capitol grounds and the second memorial dedicated to a specific ethnic group. Texas installed the Tejano Monument to Mexican-American history in 2012.