Groups against 'police brutality' take a knee at Austin City Council

"End Austin Police Brutality" -- a banner displayed at the beginning of Thursday's Austin City Council meeting by groups like Grassroots Leadership, the Austin Justice Coalition and those who believe their families and friends have been victimized by police brutality.

They took a knee during the invocation. "We hope that we've been able to really clarify how take a knee is related to one thing and one thing only and that's racial inequality and police brutality in this country," said Chris Harris with Grassroots Leadership.

The advocates came together for a press conference in front of City Hall.

Harris says council should reject or make big changes to the city's contract with the Austin Police Association.

"From what we've seen of this contract this new contract that will be coming, it will not address any of the serious transparency, accountability and oversight issues that have plagued it since its beginning," he said.  "Right now you have 48 hours as a police officer after a misconduct incident before you have to talk to an internal investigator.  You have 48 hours with all the video, all the audio, all the witness statements to get your story straight.  You get to talk to your union rep and to your lawyer.  In that time if anyone else had that no crimes would be ever be convicted in this country it's absurd."

Harris is hoping they have support on council.

"We think that we do.  We think we have some allies.  Obviously Council Member Casar took a knee with us today.  We're hopeful that's a sign he's with us," Harris said.

Cluren Williams spoke at the rally.  His brother Lawrence Parrish is recovering after being shot by police in April.  He says it was after a domestic disturbance call.  Austin Police say his brother had a gun.

Williams has a more radical idea than some of his peers. "I think the whole department needs to go.  They refuse to uphold their actual promises," he said.  "This is not a good place because the Austin Police Department made it good.  I'm sorry community, this is a good place because we made it good."

We did reach out to the Austin Police Association. 

They could not comment on the protest or the contract at the moment.
The city says negotiations are still ongoing but they're nearing an end.
Council may end up voting on the contract in November.

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