Video: Council Member Jimmy Flannigan detained and harassed after campaign event

Guest post by Annie Hartnett

On Saturday, November 21st, Austin City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan was headed back to his car after a weekly Day of Action campaign event at Springwoods Park when half a dozen people on motorcycles rolled up. Flannigan, who I spoke with the following day, said he thought nothing of it at the time. All of his associations with bikers were good, he said. So, he was surprised when the men began to yell and move toward him aggressively. He quickly stepped into his car and shut the door.

The leader of the group, who Flannigan did not recognize at the time but who has since been identified as Luis Rodriguez, then yanked open the car door and positioned himself between Flannigan and the door. At this point, Flannigan was unable to close his car door, exit the car, or even drive forward, so he grabbed his phone and began to livestream.

The livestream, linked to here, is disturbing to watch. Rodriguez, identified by patches on his denim vest as National President and Club Co-Founder of the Wind Therapy Freedom Riders, leans into Flannigan’s car, maskless and screaming, for a long three minutes and 26 seconds. When Jacob Aronowitz, a member of Flannigan’s campaign staff, politely attempts to re-close the car door, Rodriguez becomes even more aggressive, shouting threats and expletives and stabbing into the car with his hand. He pushes his face and chest into Aronowitz and repeatedly accuses Flannigan of calling him a racist.

Rodriguez organized a November 1st event in support of the Austin Police Department at which eight APD officers were photographed posing with Wind Therapy Freedom Riders, including Mr. Rodriguez; members of the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group, who flashed white power signs in the photographs; and Mackenzie Kelly, Flannigan’s opponent in the upcoming run-off election for the District 6 City Council seat.

In an interview about the event, Rodriguez says, “The event was to let people know that we are backing the blue and that we are looking for candidates that voters can get behind that also believe in the same values we believe in….”

When I spoke with him the day after the incident, I asked Flannigan how he felt and if he would be deterred from holding future campaign events. “As an openly gay man,” he said, “I’m impervious to bullying. This incident only steels my resolve. My campaign and I will not be intimidated into silence going into this run-off.”

If you would like to stand with Jimmy Flannigan against people who use violence and threats to intimidate political opponents, visit his website and read about the solutions he proposes to address issues facing voters in District 6.  Then, donate to his campaign, like his Facebook page, or sign up to volunteer.

Let’s send a clear message that Austinites will not stand for intimidation tactics and political violence in our city!

#DefundAPD to #EndRacism in Austin | Midweek Action Roundup

Take Action

#DefundAPD to #EndRacism in Austin—Today!

Testify at the budget hearing AND/OR call your Council Member

Starting today, August 12th through the 14th, our city council will be listening to the final round of testimony and then voting on amendments to the city budget. Over 20,000 people have called in to request the city move 100 million dollars from the Austin Police Department (APD).

We are excited to announce that there seems to be unanimous support from all 10 City Council members and the Mayor for addressing safety, justice, quality of life, and civil rights with this budget! However to make this a reality, individual Council Members still need to hear from you at the Public Hearing AND their constituents to get the political cover needed to pass ALL of the budget amendments. In order to do this, the City Council will introduce a new “base motion” comprising Council Members’ budget amendments to defund APD fund community reinvestments instead of the draft budget from the City Manager’s office as the base motion for the new budget. Because of this radical and recent change, we need you to support the “Base Motion for Community Reinvestments” when you call your Council Members or testify at the budget.

If you have signed up to testify 🎤 (Monday was the deadline.) take these steps. If not, skip to the next section!

If you didn’t sign up to testify, no fear! You can (and should) still call and email your Council Member!


Events

Thursday, August 13

Lone Star Statewide Phonebank!

5 p.m. Hosted by Sister District and Indivisible TXLEGE. Democrats need 9 seats in the Texas House to gain majority. That might seem like a lot, but it’s not – there are 150 seats in the chamber. Democrats gained 12 seats in the House in 2018, the biggest shift in the House since Republicans stormed through in 2010. Momentum is now on our side. Leaders & volunteers from all across the state will be calling for five endorsed Texas Candidates.

RSVP on Zoom

Saturday, August 15

Pushing For Justice Caravan #JusticeForJavierAmbler

1 p.m., beginning at San Gabriel Park, Georgetown. Come help bring us awareness to Williamson county and seek justice for Javier Ambler.  This will be a peaceful, safe, and organized caravan where participants can stay in their vehicle and show support while maintaining social distancing.

View Facebook event

Visit justiceforjavierambler.com for more info

Thursday, August 20

Lone Star Statewide Phonebank!

5 p.m. Hosted by Sister District and Indivisible TXLEGE. Democrats need 9 seats in the Texas House to gain majority. That might seem like a lot, but it’s not – there are 150 seats in the chamber. Democrats gained 12 seats in the House in 2018, the biggest shift in the House since Republicans stormed through in 2010. Momentum is now on our side. Leaders & volunteers from all across the state will be calling for five endorsed Texas Candidates.

RSVP on Zoom

Saturday, August 22

MEET MJ HEGAR: It’s Time for Senator Cornyn to Go!

John Cornyn - Payback Project

1 p.m. It’s time to hold Senator Cornyn accountable for his actions! Please join us and help spread the word about our Texas Payback Project Rally where Texans will gather on Zoom to discuss how Cornyn has failed us and what we can do to flip his seat in November. We’ll cover racism, the environment, and health care specifically during this event through videos and live speakers. We’ll also hear from his opponent, MJ Hegar, on how she plans to do things differently if elected. Hope to see you there!

RSVP for the August 22 Payback Rally

Sign up for updates on Facebook

Tell Austin City Council: Defund the Police by $100 million

Austinites: Were you aware that 40% of the City of Austin budget for fiscal year 2020 was devoted to the Austin Police Department, while less than 8% was devoted to public health? Do you agree with these budget priorities? If not, here’s your chance to give your two cents on budget priorities for 2021.

Please use this tool BEFORE JULY 1 to provide the city with information about what you think is important. And don’t be afraid to dream big about how much of the money saved by defunding APD can then be added to community priorities like housing, public health, libraries, and parks!

Austin FY2020 Police Budget

Source of chart: Austin Chronicle

While you’re at it, contact Mayor Adler and your City Council Representative TODAY to ask that they support Items 95 and 96 at tonight’s Council meeting!

  • Item 95 is a resolution on police use of force that would prohibit the use of tear gas and impact munitions against protestors, restrict use of deadly force, prohibit chokeholds, reduce military-grade equipment, and restrict no-knock warrants (like the one the police who killed Breonna Taylor had).
  • Item 96 is a resolution that would restrict additional APD funding and reallocate funds for community needs.

Consider also voicing your support for calls from the Austin Justice Coalition and some council members to defund APD to the tune of $100 million (from a total of $400 million). City Council members Greg Casar and Jimmy Flannigan and Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza have already expressed their support for cuts to APD funding, as well as a package of reforms that includes immediate steps to prevent the kind of police brutality that happened at recent protests.

“No more chokeholds. No more shooting at people fleeing. No more using tear gas at First Amendment demonstrations. I would hope and expect that it should be policy today and that if we vote on it Thursday, that it should be practiced Thursday,” said Casar.”

The reform package also includes measures to attack systemic discrimination by APD: “Zero racial disparities in traffic stops. Zero racial disparities in arrests and tickets from traffic stops. Zero use of force incidents and zero officer involved deaths,” said Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza.

Finally, join many Austinites in calling for the resignation or firing of Chief Manley over his department’s gross overreaction to largely peaceful protests, an overreaction that left at least two young men hospitalized, one with a cracked skull and permanent brain damage.

Contacts from the following districts are especially needed:

  • District 3: Pio Renteria (512-978-2103)
  • District 8: Paige Ellis (512-978-2108)
  • District 7: Leslie Pool (512-978-2107)
  • District 5: Ann Kitchen (512-978-2105)
  • District 9: Kathie Tovo (512-978-2109)
  • District 10: Alison Alter (512-978-2110)

Find your City Council district by entering your address here or by looking at the map here.

Let’s do our part to change this broken system!