Supporters of Black Lives Matter and Police Lives Matter converged on the state capital in two separate matches Saturday morning.
The two groups marched in from different directions and remained on opposite ends of the Capitol building.
Chants of “Black Lives Matter” could be heard blocks away from the protest.
Jennifer Muhammad said she went to the rally for her 17-year-old son. “I absolutely worry about him, he’s a black male in America,” Muhammad said, “he can do all the right things and still get beaten, brutalized and murdered.”
Supporters of Black Lives Matter sprawled out on the steps of the Capitol for what’s called a ‘die in.’ Organizers read the names of people killed by police and when the listed ended they said, “We’re going to keep saying their names until people remember their names.”
On the other end of the building people prayed for slain officers. “Officers are getting pinpointed as the enemies and they are actually the protectors of our communities,” said Robert Chody.
The organizer of the Police Lives Matter rally, Chody said officers need to know they have the public’s support. Chody said officers are getting ambushed, they feel threatened and they are nervous to do their jobs.
“I think police are a scapegoat at this point,” said Earl Bolls, a retired police officer who went to the event to support his brothers in blue. Bolls, who served with the Austin Police Department for nearly 40 years, said, “Police are under attack but this isn’t anything new.”
Strangely, but not surprisingly, that’s how people on the other side said they felt. “Absolutely, black lives and not valued and under attack,” Muhammad said.
The groups rallied in different ways and for different reasons but both sides share the same bottom line, lives matter.
Bolls said, “We see things from different angles but we both see the same problem and I think want the same conclusion, we just see different routes to get to that conclusion.” Bolls said there needs to be more equality, transparency and safety.
Muhammad said she wants lawmakers to put in place new policies to protect people from police. “Whether you wear a badge or not if you commit a criminal activity you need to be held accountable,” Muhammad said.
Organizers said it was pure coincidence that the two events occurred in the same place and at the same time.