In this column, we are striving to share more information about ways to get involved with anti-racism and to support Austin’s vibrant Black community. We would be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to reflect on the past month’s surge of protests and activism. There is so much work to be done, and surely systemic racism and police violence in this country will not be unwound in days, weeks or even months. That being said, we wanted to share some of the positive changes that have come out of the recent Black Lives Matter protests. Many of these measures are both too little, too late and not comprehensive enough. We must keep doing the work internally and within our communities to root out racists systems, policies and ideas. We hope that seeing some of the positive changes that have sprouted as a result of this movement will encourage you to keep up the fight, to continue calling your representatives and holding them accountable, and to stay the anti-racist course.
Photo courtesy of Alex Motoc
In Austin, the following changes have taken place:
- Police Chief Brian Manley announced the following changes to APD’s General Orders. Neck restraints and chokeholds have been banned, intentionally deactivating body cameras will result in suspension and possible referral to the district attorney, and APD will inform the Austin City Council of all amendments to the General Orders within 24 hours.
- Austin City Council unanimously approved a set of measures to limit officers’ use of force and to ban use of “less lethal” munitions during protests.
- Austin City Council directed the City Manager to propose reductions in APD’s budget for next year, and slashed funding for the hiring of new police officers.
- Austin City Council also set goals for zero racial disparities in policing.
Photo courtesy of Charles Adewumi
Within 10 days of sustained protests around the country the following things have taken place or gone into effect:
- Minneapolis banned the use of choke holds and Minneapolis City Council voted to require that police officers intervene anytime they see unauthorized use of force by another officer.
- Minneapolis’s City Council pledged to disband the MPD and replace it.
- Charges were upgraded against George Floyd’s murderer, Derek Chauvin, and his accomplices were also arrested and charged.
- New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the repeal of 50-A, a provision that shielded records of police misconduct from the public.
- Governor Cuomo also introduced legislation that makes false race-based 911 calls a hate crime.
- Dallas adopted a “duty to intervene” rule that requires officers to stop other cops who are engaging in inappropriate use of force.
- New Jersey’s attorney general said the state will update its use-of-force guidelines for the first time in two decades.
- In Maryland, a bipartisan work group of state lawmakers announced a police reform work group.
- Los Angeles City Council introduced a motion to reduce LAPD’s $1.8 billion operating budget. Additionally, LA Announced a $100-150 million cut from LAPD budget, to be reinvested into communities, a moratorium on gang database, and sharper discipline against abusive cops.
- MBTA in Boston agreed to stop using public buses to transport police officers to protests.
- Police brutality captured on cameras led to near-immediate suspensions and firings of officers in several cities (i.e., Buffalo, Ft. Lauderdale).
- Monuments celebrating confederates have been or are in the process of being removed in cities in Virginia, Alabama, and other states.
- The street in front of the White House was renamed “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
- The University of Minnesota canceled its contract with police.
- ATU Local 1005 refused to bring police officers to protests or to transport arrested protesters.
- Activists commandeered a hotel to provide shelter to the homeless.
- The Louisville Mayor suspended “no-knock” warrants and the Breonna Taylor bill was passed to permanently curtail “no-knock” warrants; however, Breonna Taylor’s killers remain free.
- The FBI launched an investigation into Breonna Taylor’s murder.
- Minneapolis public schools ended their contract with police.
- California prosecutors launched a campaign to stop DA’s from accepting police union money.
- Tulsa Mayor Bynum agreed to not renew Live PD contract.
- The Louisville police chief was fired after the shooting of David Mcatee at his BBQ joint.
- A bipartisan group of lawmakers began a push to shut down a Pentagon program that transfers military weaponry to local law enforcement departments.
- Democrats introduced a sweeping police reform bill that would ban chokeholds, make lynching a federal crime, and curtail qualified immunity.
- A Civil Rights investigation of the Minneapolis police department was launched.
- A resolution to prevent law enforcement from hiring officers with a history of misconduct was announced by San Francisco District Attorney Boudin and Supervisor Walton.
- One police officer was fired for tweets promoting violence against protestors in Denver.
- Minneapolis Institute of Art, First Avenue and Walker Art Center ended their use of MPD for events.
- Nascar banned the use of the confederate flag at events.
- Richmond, VA Mayor Stoney announced RPD reform measures including to establish a “Marcus” alert for folks experiencing mental health crises and to create an independent Citizen Review Board.
- County commissioners denied a proposal for a $23 million expansion of Fulton County Jail.
- Minneapolis Parks and Recreation cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department.
- The US Army told soldiers to disobey any orders to attack peaceful protestors.
- The Portland school system superintendent discontinued the presence of armed police officers in schools. Seattle and Denver did the same.
- The Oakland, CA school board has voted to disband its school police.
- The University of California school system added a mandatory Ethnic Studies class to each college student’s graduation requirements and curriculum.
- Twitter, Nike and other companies declared Juneteenth a paid holiday.
Photo courtesy of Bach Nguyen
Issues of racism, police brutality, and oppression have been brought to light across the globe. Here are some of the impacts the protests have had worldwide:
- Protests against racial inequality sparked by the police killing of George Floyd have been taking place all over the world.
- Rallies and memorials have been held in cities across Europe, as well as in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.
- In France, protesters marched holding signs that said “I can’t breathe” to signify both the words of Floyd, and the last words of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black man who was subdued by police officers and gasped the sentence before he died outside of Paris in 2016.
- In Amsterdam, an estimated 10,000 people filled the Dam square, holding signs and shouting popular chants like “Black lives matter,” and “No justice, no peace.”
- In Germany, people gathered in multiple locations throughout Berlin to demand justice for Floyd and to fight against police brutality.
- A mural dedicated to Floyd was also spray-painted on a stretch of wall in Berlin that once divided the German capital during the Cold War.
- In Ireland, protesters held a peaceful demonstration outside of Belfast City Hall, and others gathered outside the US embassy in Dublin.
- In Italy, protesters gathered and marched with signs that said “Stop killing black people,” “Say his name,” and “We will not be silent.”
- In Spain, people gathered to march and hold up signs throughout Barcelona and Madrid.
- In Athens, Greece, protesters took to the streets to collectively hold up a sign that read “I can’t breathe.”
- In Brussels, protesters were seen sitting in a peaceful demonstration in front of an opera house in the center of the city.
- In Denmark, protesters were heard chanting “No justice, no peace!” throughout the streets of Copenhagen, while others gathered outside the US embassy.
- In Canada, protesters were also grieving for Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old black woman who died earlier in June after falling from her balcony during a police investigation at her building.
- In New Zealand, roughly 2,000 people marched to the US embassy in Auckland, chanting and carrying signs demanding justice.
- Memorials have been built for Floyd around the world, too. In Mexico City, portraits of him were hung outside the US embassy with roses, candles, and signs.
- In Poland, candles and flowers were laid out next to photos of Floyd outside the US consulate.
- In Syria, two artists created a mural depicting Floyd in the northwestern town of Binnish, “on a wall destroyed by military planes.”
Photo courtesy of Leslie Cross
In addition to all of these changes and more, we must also remind ourselves of the great awakening that has at long last taken place. While immeasurable, we must also recognize the benefits of all of the learning and unlearning taking place, all of the hard conversations and realizations people are finally having, the self-reflection, and the businesses striving to do better and to be better.