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Austin police investigating reported assault against woman wearing MAGA hat

Make America Great Again label (Chamtrumping/ WikiCommons)

Austin police are investigating a reported assault against a woman who says she and her friends were targeted because they were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.

Haley Maddox posted a video Saturday saying she was attacked the night of March 2 on Sixth Street. The video gained attention soon after she and a political strategist shared it on social media.

“We did not go in with the intentions of starting a fight. We were just wearing our MAGA hats out on a Saturday and we wanted to show our support for Texas Independence week,” said Maddox in the video.

Maddox said she and her friends were also attacked by a bartender and another man when they walked out.

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“The cops that we reported this to showed bias, in our opinion, towards us because we were Trump supporters and insinuated that this happened because we wore those hats and that’s to be expected nowadays, I guess,” Maddox said.

Police did not comment on the details of the incident but confirmed that Maddox filed a report and that they are investigating it.

“APD can confirm a report has been filed and the case has been assigned to a detective for investigative follow up,” Austin police said in a statement. In addition, the Downtown Area Chain of Command is reviewing video of the officer’s interaction with the victims/witnesses.”

Another person shared a different video on Twitter that appears to be a conversation between Maddox, her friends and Austin police officers.

In it, Maddox and her friends say a man struck one of the women after she started recording him. Police talk to the man and tell the group they can’t detain him because, “an assault — unless it occurs within our presence — there’s not a whole lot more we can do than take a report,” an officer says in the video.

A second officer tells them that wearing the MAGA hats was not a problem but that the group shouldn’t have escalated the situation by confronting the man.

“You guys can’t escalate the disturbance and make it more of a disturbance,” the second officer tells Maddox and her friends. “Two wrongs don’t make a right. … You guys are following him, you’re recording him, it’s almost like you’re harassing him at that point.”

Justin Berry, vice president of the Austin police union, said it’s common — especially on a Saturday night on Sixth Street — for an officer to take a report and then forward the case to a detective.

“We look forward to learning what the department’s investigation has determined,” Berry said. “It’s not uncommon for officers to take an assault statement and route it to a detective for further investigation when there’s not a suspect currently on scene. It’s also important to take into account that this event occurred on a busy Saturday night. Due to officer resources being limited, it’s very challenging to dedicate resources on scene on a busy night with limited officers.”

American-Statesman staff writer Madlin Mekelburg contributed to this report.

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© 2019 Austin American-Statesman, Texas

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