FORT WORTH, Texas — The Fort Worth City Council voted unanimously to end its 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew during a heated meeting Thursday night, the first one that's been held since the death of George Floyd.
The curfew was put in place for at least 72 hours Monday, one day after protesters clashed with police on the West 7th Street Bridge.
Fifty were arrested that night after demonstrators were kept from crossing with tear gas and flash-bang devices.
Protesters arrived at city hall hours before the meeting began, and circled the building. Occasionally, they marched in the streets downtown before returning to city hall.
At least three pages worth of signatures filled the public comment portion of the meeting, but the City only allowed 32 people in at a time due to COVID-19 concerns.
To enter, you had to be wearing a mask, answer a COVID-19 questionnaire, and have a temperature check.
During the meeting, those who signed up to speak admonished the city's department--which has been under fire since the death of Atatiana Jefferson in October of last year.
Jefferson was mistakenly shot and killed in her own home by Officer Aaron Dean during a welfare check. Dean has been indicted for murder.
At one point, one speaker had to be removed from the council chambers.
While protesters don’t always agree on a list of demands, a group got together Thursday at Mt. Olive Baptist Church to lay out the changes they expect to see, following days of marches over the killings of black Americans by police officers.
Many of those demands were heard throughout the council meeting.
Trice Jones, who spoke at the news conference, gave WFAA the following list of demands to the City of Fort Worth:
- We demand to defund the police.
- We demand the Fort Worth Independent School District to immediately remove all Fort Worth police officers from our schools.
- We demand the FWISD immediately cease all contracts with the Fort Worth Police Department.
- We demand to the demilitarization of the FWPD. The SRT should no longer have access to militarized gear.
- We demand the creation of a community oversight board (not appointed by the City) with subpoena power.
- We demand the disarmament of police, especially in response to nonviolent offenses.
- We demand a substantial portion of the FWPD budget be allocated to creating mental health response teams, youth homelessness programs, and a young people’s task force on race relations, etc.
Others, like Nysse Nelson, said policy changes are not enough.
“What I demand is that we abolish our law enforcement,” Nelson said. “Because I don’t think that we can reform and rebuild.”
One man, who asked to be identified as "Black Ross," said that notion applies to police departments in Texas and across the country.
“There is no reform for a Fort Worth police department, for a policing system in America that was founded out of slave patrol,” Ross said. “You don’t reform that. You destroy it, and you build something better. You build something new, you build something just.”
Despite their different solutions, the group promised to keep protesting together.
“If you don’t bring us justice, we’re going to shut it down,” Ross said. “We’ll shut it down today. We’ll shut it down tomorrow. We’ll shut it down every day until justice comes.”
The Fort Worth Police Department and the office of Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price did not immediately respond to WFAA’s request for comment regarding the list of demands.
More on WFAA:
- After 6 days of protests, Dallas town hall to address police oversight board
- 'I’ve got to do it for my family': Why some young Fort Worth protesters say they march
- Texas state rep calls for legislation making it a crime for police to stay silent if they witness excessive force
- What do protesters want? Here are 10 demands sent to the Dallas Police Department, local leaders