Time to Defund

RECEIVED Tue., June 9, 2020

Dear Editor,
    I am writing to demand that Mayor Adler and the City Council take immediate steps to defund the Austin Police Department and to fire police “leadership,” including Chief Manley, his Chief of Staff Troy Gay, and Assistant City Manager [Rey] Arellano, whose civilian “management” of APD has been abysmal.
    The violent behavior meted out by police in Austin’s communities of color on a regular basis was on full display for the whole city to see 10 days ago as cops violently and ruthlessly attacked peaceful demonstrators, injuring more than 50 people. The cops who shot two young men in the head and the medics who were attempting to help are still on the job because, according to the chief, they followed guidelines. This is unacceptable and illustrates a serious lack of leadership on the part of Chief Manley. I urge the Council to call on the city manager to fire him and other members of his “leadership” team.
    I also call on the Austin City Council to commit to decreasing APD’s budget by $100 million starting on October 1, 2020, and to allocate those funds to desperately needed social services. Please do this at your next meeting on June 11th. I can think of quite a few places where the intervention of armed individuals with badges is counterproductive and dangerous: schools, family disputes, mental health crises, wellness checks, drug overdoses, and with unhoused people. That $100 million could be used to deal with the urgent needs of the communities in our city that now bear the brunt of excessive policing. And as Austin builds new strategies as alternatives to policing, such as community-led initiatives for violence prevention, funding for police must continue to decrease and be transferred to community-oriented programs. The time for “reform” is over. Incremental efforts to improve APD have failed. It’s time to defund.
Amy Mashberg
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