AUSTIN, Texas - Several Austin City Council members held a press conference to talk about upcoming actions related to police reform on the June 11 agenda.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza and council members Natasha Harper-Madison, Greg Casar, and Jimmy Flanningan spoke.
The press conference began at 11:30 a.m.
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Austin Mayor Steve Adler released a statement over the weekend about the city's plan to reform the Austin Police Department. He said Austin City Council will vote to reform police use of force including the "8 Can't Wait" policies.
Mayor Adler says the city will take action to prohibit tear and gas and impact munitions on people exercising their First Amendment rights. He says people should have the right to protest without the fear of injury.
Adler says city leaders will work to demilitarize the police, end police brutality and killings by restricting the use of force and create non-lethal response teams.
Austin City Council will also hold law enforcement accountable by creating oversight committees with subpoena powers.
The mayor posted his full statement on his Facebook page.
The full statement can be seen below:
The systemic killing of Black Americans must stop.
This week, we witnessed generations of injustice and inequality reach a boiling point, and many of you have reached out to me in response. The emails, phone calls, testimony -- as well as the protests -- have expressed very clearly that the systemic killing of Black Americans by police officers in the US and here is a stain on our communities and must stop.
A peaceful, prosperous future together will require truth, reconciliation and accountability. We will heal by plotting a just and equitable way forward… together. We all have a role to play. This movement is the work of our lifetime. We must rise to the occasion. It has taken our country an embarrassingly long time to get here. People are angry. Fed up. Tired. Scared. Outraged.
You should be.
There will be a review and accountability for all the videos and complaints received from days of protest. But the trouble in my heart not only includes but goes beyond the specific analysis of any particular officer’s conduct at any moment in time. Austin is a progressive, caring, innovative, friendly, supportive city. We need a police force that in conduct, practice, and spirit is part and parcel of that. We need a police force that supports, implements, shares and, yes, even champions the uniquely Austin culture to which we aspire – even as it works with demonstrations protests.
Look around the country—people are in the streets for a reason.
Here’s what I know…
Austin is a special place that on so many levels each day is doing things right.
We have a history of overt racism in this city and have yet to eradicate the vestiges that are the institutional racism found in our very foundation.
We have a long way to go.
Austin is poised in every way to do what it takes to root out institutional racism in all aspects of our lives, including in our police system.
We are tested as never before. But our efforts at this moment will shape the character of this city for generations to come. Justice pays dividends.
We have to get this right. Every challenge our city faces is complicated by race and inequity. We can’t work on a more affordable Austin, transit, traffic, policing, homelessness, health care, access to capital, education, housing… without confronting our systemic inequities. Until the color of a person’s skin and their zip code is no longer a predictor of early death, we will be unable to make true progress on any other issue.
- The Mayor’s Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities Task Force announced that they will be forming a new non-profit alliance to set goals, promote and steward anti-racist policies- and measure progress. Their work was founded to accelerate the dismantling of institutional racism in our City. Since the time of their initial recommendations, much work has been done and there’s so much more to do. The launch of this association is a vital step in holding Austin accountable to address racism at its various levels: personal, institutional, structural & systemic.
- I committed to implementing Campaign Zero’s 8 Can’t Wait policies to restrict police use of force. Austin currently has three of the eight in place. Item 95 on next week’s City Council agenda implements the remaining five.
- I committed to President Obama’s and My Brother’s Keeper’s pledge to: REVIEW police use of force policies. ENGAGE our communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in your review. REPORT the findings of our review to your community and seek feedback. REFORM our community’s police use of force policies.
- REVIEW police use of force policies.
- ENGAGE our communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in your review.
- REPORT the findings of our review to your community and seek feedback.
- REFORM our community’s police use of force policies.
- I signed on to the Grassroots Law Pledge to Justice, committing to support policies that: End police brutality and killings by restricting the use of force, creating non-lethal response teams, and demilitarizing police forces. Hold law enforcement accountable by creating committees for oversight with subpoena powers, and eliminating exceptions for law enforcement such as qualified immunity
- End police brutality and killings by restricting the use of force, creating non-lethal response teams, and demilitarizing police forces.
- Hold law enforcement accountable by creating committees for oversight with subpoena powers, and eliminating exceptions for law enforcement such as qualified immunity
- The City Council will vote to reform police use of force, including the “8 Can’t Wait” policies.
- We will take action to prohibit tear gas and impact munitions on people exercising the first amendment. The right to protest and to disrupt cannot be fraught with fear of injury.
- We will take action to demilitarize the police, keeping with the Grassroots Law Pledge.
- We will strictly limit no-knock warrants & facial recognition technology and delay the new Austin Police Department cadet class at least until training curriculum is where it needs to be.
- We take action, similar to our second chance hire ordinance, to limit unconstructive barriers to housing for those formerly incarcerated or evicted as one measure to proactively prevent homelessness.
- We will set specific and measurable, zero racial disparity goals so as to hold ourselves accountable for progress and results.
We should aspire and act to realize an Austin policing model that does not make addressing poverty and mental health the responsibility of our police. We should be investing elsewhere in services and support that are better equipped to deal with and resolve these underlying issues.
Real change is hard, uncomfortable and not without risk. But that’s okay. We have to lean into that discomfort in order to make real change.
The interplay of issues is undeniable.
Black and brown people were over-represented in the first essential workers asked back to work in the midst of this virus and these economic first responders are paying a price for their sacrifice.
Austin’s Stay Home-Work Safe Orders are in place through June 15. Coronavirus remains as contagious as it has ever been. Continue to social distance. Wear a mask. Get tested for FREE if you’ve been exposed or are experiencing symptoms (or if you have attended a protest demonstration).
The latest 7-day daily average of new hospitalizations is over 11. Keeping this number under 20 is key in increasing chances we can continue to reopen while preventing our hospitals from experiencing an overwhelming surge in admissions.
We have 3,616, confirmed COVID-19 cases, up from 3,124 last Friday.
Change will not happen overnight. These issues demand transformative change. With continued deliberate action, our community will be better for everyone.
In it together.