Austin bans use of choke-holds, limits police budget
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Austin City Council and Mayor Steve Adler unanimously approved five items to reform the city's police department following weeks of protests against police brutality.
The rare move banned the use of chokeholds and strongholds, shooting at moving vehicles and the use of tear gas and munitions at crowds expressing First Amendment rights. At the initiative of Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, a goal of zero racial disparity in traffic stops and use-of-force by officers was also set.
The city’s judicial committee will be converted into a public safety committee, at the leadership of council member Jimmy Flannigan, who will chair the committee.
The City Council also directed that the budget allocated to the police department not include any new sworn police officers, eliminate sworn positions that the police department can’t reasonably fill in FY 2020-2021 and reallocate those funds for other public health and safety resources and initiatives.
Some council members showed support for reductions to the police department budget of up to $100 million, though an exact number has not yet been formalized.
This came after more than 300 people signed up to comment for a second time during Thursday’s scheduled City Council meeting. One of them was Brenda Ramos, who testified in tears about her son’s death. An Austin police officer shot Michael Ramos, a black and Hispanic man, as he was driving away from the officer.
Ramos’ name has been repeatedly echoed by protesters in parallel to that of George Floyd, a black man who died in custody after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
Many of the speakers once again called for the resignation of Police Chief Brian Manley, while some now additionally called for Adler's.
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