Some East Austin residents share controversial police sentiments

The recent encounters with law enforcement making headlines across the country and here in Texas continue to alter some Austinites' feelings about officers, especially on the East side of town. Certainly not all of the residents in East Austin feel badly about law enforcement but some have strong opinions.

East Austin resident Korty Fillmore says he has had his run ins with the law, but he says he's learned his lesson.

"Due to that I've become a different person and I've changed my lifestyle, but at the same time I don't like the way they handle certain situations," said Fillmore.

Fillmore developed an uneasy feeling about police in Austin after he says he saw unfair encounters.

Michael Lofton runs the African-American Youth Harvest Foundation. It is a program that provides mentorship to black children.

"We talk to a lot of kids day in and day out and a number of these kids have had bad interactions with officers. I'm not saying our chief is not doing a good job but I think more can be done," said Lofton.

For some, East Austin's history of officer-involved shootings over the years, and the recent events in Waller County, has only added fuel to the fire.

"I feel nervous and anxious when I am interacting with the police," said Kageni Piece, resident.

"Any action of a police officer whether it's the East, the West Coast or right here in our backyard affects all of the police agencies," said Troy Gay, Asst. Chief, Austin Police Dept.

Freddie Dixon moved to East Austin in the early 1970's. He says he has seen some unfortunate encounters with police.

"We've always had a difficult relationship with the police department," said Dixon.

"There are good officers, but like with any job, there are bad officers," said Lofton.

The Austin of today is certainly not what it was in the 1970's and police officers say they want to make sure the city does not look back.

"If I have the time to understand and hear what your challenges are and the problems in your community, then I take action for that," said Gay.

Although views may differ, police and most East Austin residents agree that it's going to take a group effort to bridge the gap.

"It takes the police and the community to do things. We have to come together because if we don't come together we have nothing," said Fillmore.
 

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