Austin, TX - Governor Greg Abbott yesterday declared a State of Disaster for all Texas counties in the midst of violent protests that endanger public safety and threaten property loss and damage.
Under this declaration, the Governor has the ability to designate federal agents to serve as Texas Peace Officers.
“Texas and America mourn the senseless loss of George Floyd and the actions that led to his death are reprehensible and should be condemned in the strongest terms possible,” said Governor Abbott. “As Texans exercise their 1st Amendment rights, it is imperative that order is maintained and private property is protected.”
To ensure peaceful protest, Governor Greg Abbott sent state resources to the cities of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin to maintain public safety. The Governor and DPS officials have spoken with Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and Austin Mayor Steve Adler, as well as law enforcement officials in those cities. DPS has sent more than 1,500 officers to assist local police departments. More resources will be provided as needed.
"Every Texan and every American has the right to protest and I encourage all Texans to exercise their First Amendment rights," said Governor Abbott. "However, violence against others and the destruction of property is unacceptable and counterproductive. As protests have turned violent in various areas across the state, it is crucial that we maintain order, uphold public safety, and protect against property damage or loss. By authorizing additional federal agents to serve as Texas Peace Officers we will help protect people’s safety while ensuring that peaceful protesters can continue to make their voices heard."
Governor Abbott Declares State of Disaster Following Violent Protests
TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL COME:
WHEREAS, since May 29, 2020, there have been threats and incidents of violence in several cities across Texas that have endangered public safety; and
WHEREAS, these events have caused or imminently threatened widespread or severe damage, injury, and property loss, among other harms, at a time when the State of Texas is responding to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disaster; and
WHEREAS, while all Americans are entitled to exercise their First Amendment rights, it is imperative that order is maintained, all persons are kept safe and healthy, and property is protected; and
WHEREAS, peaceful protestors, many of whom are responding to the senseless taking of life by the reprehensible actions of a few, should themselves be protected from harm; and
WHEREAS, in response to the ongoing threats of violence and looting, I have activated the Texas National Guard and deployed numerous state resources, including Texas Department of Public Safety peace officers; and
WHEREAS, declaring a state of disaster will facilitate and expedite the use and deployment of resources to enhance preparedness and response to the ongoing threats, including by ensuring that federal law enforcement officers can fully assist with the efforts; and
WHEREAS, the “governor is responsible for meeting ... the dangers to the state and people presented by disasters” under Section 418.011 of the Texas Government Code, and the legislature has given the governor broad authority to fulfill that responsibility; and
WHEREAS, under Section 418.016(a), the “governor may suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or the orders or rules of a state agency if strict compliance with the provisions, orders, or rules would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with a disaster;”
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GREG ABBOTT, Governor of the State of Texas, do hereby certify that these threats and incidents of violence constitute and pose an imminent threat of disaster. In accordance with the authority vested in me by Section 418.014 of the Texas Government Code, I hereby declare a state of disaster for all counties in Texas.
Pursuant to Section 418.017, I authorize the use of all available resources of state government and of political subdivisions that are reasonably necessary to cope with this disaster.
Pursuant to Section 418.016(a), I hereby suspend all relevant provisions within Chapter 1701 of the Texas Occupations Code, as well as Title 37, Chapters 211-229 of the Texas Administrative Code, to the extent necessary for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to allow federal law enforcement officers to perform peace officer duties in Texas. Additionally, pursuant to Section 418.016, any other regulatory statute
prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or any order or rule of a state agency that would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with this disaster shall be suspended upon written approval of the Office of the Governor. However, to the extent that the enforcement of any state statute or administrative rule regarding contracting or procurement would impede any state agency’s emergency response that is necessary to cope with this declared disaster, I hereby suspend such statutes and rules for the duration of this declared disaster for that limited purpose.
In accordance with the statutory requirements, copies of this proclamation shall be filed with the applicable authorities.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto signed my name and have officially caused the Seal of State to be affixed at my office in the City of Austin, Texas, this the 31st day of May, 2020.
Governor Greg Abbott