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College Student Commission recommends reallocating $30M from APD budget to fund minority scholarships

Monday, June 22, 2020 by Savana Dunning

The College Student Commission passed a recommendation Monday asking City Council to reallocate at least $30 million from the Austin Police Department budget to college scholarships for low-income and racial minority students in Austin.

The recommendation calls for APD Chief Brian Manley to resign from his position if he fails to fire and bring charges against the officers involved in recent violent incidents “including but not limited to the incidents involving Justin Howell and Mike Ramos.” The commission also called on City Manager Spencer Cronk “to publicly release a statement (with legal documentation) on why he does or does not believe that APD Chief Brian Manley, APD Chief of Staff Troy Gay and Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano should continue to serve in their respective roles given the constant threat to public safety and little to no accountability for officers involved in incidents resulting in the death of young black citizens here in the city of Austin.”

On Thursday, Cronk told the media he did not intend to fire Manley.

“There’s a lot of things that can be done,” said Chair Jared Breckenridge from Huston-Tillotson University. “I don’t think we can hit every single thing that will need to be done in the city of Austin within one piece of paper, but we can certainly try our best.”

Commissioner Wendy Rodriguez, a representative from UT Austin, motioned for a vote which was seconded by co-Chair Jessica Riley from St. Edward’s University. The motion passed unanimously, in an 8-0-0 vote.

“We can’t take this any longer,” Rodriguez said. “We can’t tolerate this. This shouldn’t be a thing.”

The recommendation argues that police brutality and violence affects college students in Austin because of the high population of students living in the city. It lists the names of unarmed people of color shot by Austin police since 2002: Sophia King, Jessie Lee Owens Jr., Daniel Rocha, Kevin Brown, Nathaniel Sanders, Byron Carter Jr., Ahmede Bradley, Larry Jackson Jr., David Joseph, Landon Nobles and Mike Ramos. All but two were around college-aged, between the ages of 17 and 25, when they were shot by APD officers.

“We know that people of all ages and races are killed by law enforcement, yet black people (especially males) under the age of 30 are far more likely to be killed by a law enforcement officer than any other race,” the recommendation states. “We, the members of the College Student Commission, strongly affirm the following statement: Black Lives Matter.”

Rodriguez, Riley, Commissioner Matthew Barron of UT Austin, and Commissioner Kindle Kreis, who also represents UT Austin, mentioned adding demands for changes to on-campus police departments, such as mandatory sexual assault training or defunding in general, although these recommendations were not added to the final draft of the resolution.

Kreis, Riley and Commissioner Bryan Nya of Austin Community College also brought up the option of writing a second recommendation to address the student-to-prison pipeline, as it affects not only students’ chances of getting into college but raises their chances of interacting with law enforcement.

“That pipeline exists, and we as college students should also be aware of that and not just educate ourselves but also aid those beneath us who are shooting to be college students one day and not have their time cut short by police brutality,” Nya said.

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.

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