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As Tensions Rise Around The Country, Houston Police Discuss Their Strategy For Keeping Protests Safe

Following the events in Charlottesville, protests and rallies have been happening in other cities. And we wanted to know how Houston police are prepared to handle these kinds of events. We spoke to an assistant chief about their strategy for making sure protests stay peaceful.

City Hall Rally
Houston activists descended on City Hall to denounce the violence in Charlottesville, Va. at a rally on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017.

Larry Satterwhite oversees a lot of public events as HPD’s Assistant Chief for Homeland Security. He says people have a right to protest, but the key to keeping those events safe is to maintain a dialog with organizers whether they’re from here in Houston or somewhere else.

“We obviously don’t want to ever escalate a situation,” says Satterwhite. “Each step is always measured in how do we do it.”

Satterwhite adds most demonstrations in Houston are peaceful but there have been situations where they’ve had to shut things down. Then they have to make sure that people don’t get into disputes as they’re leaving the protest site.

“It is a judgment call,” explains Satterwhite. “It is always about public safety, not allowing groups to make contact and engage in the kind of riotous behavior that we’ve seen around the country sadly.”

To try to prepare for protesters, Satterwhite says they keep a close eye on events around the country and around the world to predict what could happen here in Houston as a result.

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Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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