Sergeant Josh Blake is facing 99 years in prison for stopping rioters in Austin, Texas, while attempting to preserve the right of others to protest peacefully.
On Friday, May 29th, 2020, hundreds of protestors gathered outside the Austin Police Department’s Eighth Street headquarters. The demonstrators had gathered to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other police incidents that they perceived to be police brutality. The protests started a little after sunset but dragged late into the night.
Sergeant Blake and dozens of other Austin Police Department officers stepped up to help control the crowd, to ensure it was peaceful, and to protect life, limb, and property. Bicycle police officers joined in and created a wall with their bicycles to keep the increasingly unruly crowd away from police headquarters.
As the protests passed midnight, the protesters’ energy began to swell. They started throwing rocks, frozen water bottles, fireworks, and other dangerous objects at the police. The police responded by identifying the bad actors in the crowd and impacting them with non-lethal bean bag projectiles. They made all efforts to protect innocent people and allow peaceful protestors to continue their lawful protests while dealing with the bad apples who were inciting violence.
The police remained restrained even when individuals throwing objects injured several police officers. The police didn’t want to hurt anyone. They only wanted the people acting dangerously and trying to incite a riot to stop.
Over the next two days, the protests and rioting behavior spread to Austin City Hall, the Texas State Capitol, and other downtown areas. Buildings were damaged, vandalized, and looted. Vehicles
belonging to the police department and innocent persons were destroyed and set on fire. One rioter was caught with a Molotov cocktail and stopped before he could throw it. Dozens of violent protestors were arrested. It took nearly all of the city’s 2,100-strong police force to keep the city from descending into total anarchy.
Then, on Sunday, May 31st, the crowd again focused on the police department headquarters. A mob of rioters went so far as to completely block the IH-35 highway directly in front of the headquarters.
Nobody, not even those driving emergency vehicles, could get past. An important, busy interstate highway was forced to a standstill. Officers gave loud verbal commands to the illegal protesters to
leave the highway. A police helicopter even used an amplified P.A. to order the rioters to disburse, but some in the crowd steadfastly refused.
Left with no choice, the police made a plan to disburse the remaining rioters safely and efficiently while using as little force as possible. They first deployed canisters of smoke at the remaining rioters, then followed up with canisters of CS gas (a chemical irritant) to make it too physically uncomfortable for them to
remain blocking the roadway.
One rioter grabbed a traffic cone and placed it over a canister in an effort to neutralize it and prevent the gas from having its desired effect. Another rioter grabbed a canister and threw it back at the police.
Officers fired beanbag projectiles at both individuals to prevent them from obstructing lawful police operations.
But for the radical District Attorney José Garza, the riot was not the crime — but the police trying to stop
the riot! D.A. Garza has now used this specific event — firing nonlethal beanbags at people seeking to
defeat the gas canisters — to indict Josh and other officers for multiple first-degree felonies nearly two years after the fact.
José Garza has made it his mission to prosecute police officers who uphold the rule of law and not the criminals who break it. In fact, over 20 Austin police officers are now facing felony charges for their efforts to maintain order in our city during unprecedented rioting. Meanwhile, Garza has dismissed nearly every criminal charge filed against the rioters.
Garza has charged Josh with two counts of aggravated assault — and Josh now faces 99 years in prison.
Is this how our country rewards brave police officers who stop dangerous mobs — using NON-LETHAL methods? Josh is under attack from a legal system that’s been hijacked by a politically-motivated, anti-cop prosecutor.
If we don’t defend the innocent police officers who risk their lives for us, we will soon have a collapse of law and order. Help keep Josh with his family by donating to National Center for Police Defense today! Your donation will go towards Sgt. Blake’s legal defense and his family during this difficult time.
Of the 21 officers indicted in the Austin 2020 riots, National Center for Police Defense is currently helping 7 officers in addition to Sgt. Josh Blake:
- Brett Tableriou
- Christopher Irwin
- Edward Boudreau
- Eric Heim
- Jeffery Teng
- Justin Berry
- Stanley Vick