Video: Park ranger shoved into river while dispersing crowd

The ranger was asking park goers to stay the requisite six feet from each other when a bystander shoved him into the water and then took off running

Kelsey Bradshaw
Austin-American Statesman

AUSTIN — An Austin Park Ranger was pushed into the water at Commons Ford Metropolitan Park after telling a crowd to keep 6 feet of distance with each other Thursday.

A video of the incident was posted Thursday night on the social web platform Reddit. In the video, the park ranger is standing on a boardwalk and can be heard saying park-goers should disperse themselves.

“Keep that 6 feet of distance with each other,” the ranger says.

Some in the crowd are heard saying “will do” and “I got you, man” before someone pushes the ranger into the water.

Brandon Hicks, 25, was arrested at 6:49 p.m. and was charged with attempted assault on a public servant in relation to the incident, Austin police said. Hicks is in the Travis County Jail with a $7,500 bail amount, according to online jail records.

The park is in West Austin and includes a grassy field that runs along the Colorado River. At least a dozen people can be seen at the park in the video.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department has limited parking access for downtown, district and neighborhood parks and closed facilities including recreation centers, the runoff from Barton Springs Pool dubbed “Barking Springs” and city playgrounds.

Department officials confirmed Friday that the incident occurred and did involve one of the city’s park rangers. The incident happened in the late afternoon or early evening, the department said.

“City of Austin parks rangers are essential workers who’ve been on the front line of the city’s response to COVID-19,” a department statement said, referring to the disease linked to the coronavirus. “They continue to work long hours educating the public on the various operational changes at parks and other PARD facilities.”

“Our rangers continue to engage residents on the proper use of park facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kimberly McNeeley, Austin Parks and Recreation Department Director. “We ask that the public treat rangers with the same respect they wish to be shown to themselves. Public support is essential for Austin to meet the challenges of this pandemic.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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