The Austin Police Association is blaming protesters for a perceived uptick in APD officers contracting COVID-19.
On Saturday, the APA – the local police union, which is headed by Ken Casaday – made a Facebook post conflating COVID-19 cases amongst APD staff with their interactions with those protesting police brutality.
“We find it very concerning that we are starting to have officers test positive with COVID-19 at an alarming rate. What do most of them have in common? They’ve been working the protest/riots with people yelling, screaming and spitting in their faces.
It’s time for our elected officials to call this behavior out. Why does our Mayor preach COVID safety for the community, but he ignores the protesters putting his employees and their families at risk?”
Meanwhile, a quick scan of Chronicle photographer John Anderson’s archives between May 29 and June 27, the night following Casaday’s accusation, yielded abundant images of city police officers not wearing masks – or even lowering the face shields attached to their helmets – while working the protest. In several of the images, protesters are wearing face-coverings and nearby officers are not.
Since April, Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott has portrayed mask-wearing as vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control recommends “people wear cloth face coverings in public settings around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”
Like, for example, a protest.
Unmasked APD officers face to face with mask-wearing protesters on June 4 in Austin (Photo by John Anderson)
APD officers not wearing masks during a protest on June 27 – the same day the APA accused protesters of giving cops COVID-19. The second officer from the right, in the foreground, is – however – wearing a face mask over her taser. (Photo by John Anderson)
More APD officers not wearing masks during a protest on June 27 – the same day the APA accused protesters of giving cops COVID-19. (Photo by John Anderson)
APA President Ken Casaday (facing camera) not wearing a mask at a protest on May 31. (Photo by John Anderson)
An APD officer with no mask and his face shield up, while standing near protesters, at a rally on June 4. (Photo by John Anderson)
Police officers from APD not wearing masks while working a protest on May 29. (Photo by John Anderson)
APD officers wearing eye protection, but nothing covering their mouths or noses at a protest on June 4. (Photo by John Anderson)