AUSTIN, Texas - Day one of budget hearings was full of speakers, with about 250 phone speakers signed up and more in-person at the Palmer Events Center.
Following months of demonstrations against police brutality in the wake of Minnesota man George Floyd’s death, activists are pushing for the city to defund the Austin Police Department by $100 million.
This week council will vote on a budget adoption but will $100 million be taken from APD? Many are hoping yes.
Councilmember Greg Casar has proposed the city cut $150 million and use $23 million of that for immediate reinvestment. He also has suggested public safety be reimagined: for example, allowing crossing guards instead of police officers to be present at protests, and park rangers stepping in for park police.
“We are getting ready to step into a new day and age,” said Chas Moore, president of the Austin Justice Coalition.
Moore has been a major voice in the push to reinvest police funds.
“I admire you all for taking such a historic step in the right direction. For many people who look like me things are chaotic because of people who wear a uniform and have a badge and a gun,” he said.
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However, some including members of the crime commission say Austin needs more cops at this time, and divesting would only make chaos ensue. Council is considering cutting more than 100 new positions from the department.
After speakers, the council is expected to discuss, deliberate, and take up a vote by Friday at the latest