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AUSTIN — Ahead of Thursday afternoon’s special city council meeting called to discuss racism and police response at recent protests, the local Democratic Socialists of America chapter wants local officials to take away significant funds from the police department.

“We need to tell the City Council that come August, when the budget hearings begin, they should come to the table with a dramatic reduction in the police budget,” the group said in their Facebook event “Defund APD!”

Travis County Republican Chair Matt Mackowiak said he supports peaceful protests and that “debating police tactics and advancing solutions is productive,” especially after the senseless killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But he also said the Austin Police Department is the only thing stopping “absolute anarchy” in the city, referencing the violence and lootings seen locally and the killings seen in riots across the country.

“The simple fact is that we have a mayor and city council who work to undermine our law enforcement at every opportunity,” Mackowiak said in a press release. “They are now considering gutting the police budget, cutting the size of police cadet classes, and they continue to constantly criticize Police Chief Brian Manley.”

Over 330 citizens have signed up to speak at the council meeting, where the council will begin discussing the issue at 3 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Austin Police Association has issued a letter inviting local officials to the planned “Tell Us His Name Now! Protest the Austin Pig Department!” protest this evening at the police headquarters downtown, hoping it will give officials a “fresh perspective … to better understand” how police have to respond when a peaceful assembly could potentially turn violent and criminal.

The APA also hosted a joint press conference Thursday with the Austin Police Retired Officers Association, saying they were “outraged” over the actions of the Minneapolis police against George Floyd.

“It was an act of police brutality that rightfully deserves the condemnation it has received throughout our country and around the globe,” they said in a press release.

They also added that here at home, city officials are not helping residents or law enforcement in making progress or keeping peace.

“One of the most heartbreaking aspects of the violence and destruction that erupted in Austin was the lack of leadership from Mayor Steve Adler and the rest of the Austin City Council and City Management. While officers dodged rocks, Molotov cocktails, eggs, and bricks to protect the rights of individuals to peacefully protest, Mayor Adler and his colleagues failed to speak publicly about the importance of abiding by laws that protect the rights, safety and property of others. Worse yet, the Mayor chose to condone property crime while criticizing the courageous on-duty officers who upheld their responsibility to serve. All while he remained at home, citing concerns about COVID-19.

 

“We must create a safe environment for all. The residents of Austin deserve better. The officers of Austin deserve better. The memory of George Floyd deserves better.”