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Elizabeth Pagano is the editor of the Austin Monitor.
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Equity Action petition validated
Thursday, September 8, 2022 by Elizabeth Pagano
On Wednesday, the Austin city clerk validated the Austin Police Oversight Act petition, putting the issue on the ballot in May if the ordinance is not adopted by City Council first. Equity Action brought the oversight act to the public in an effort to increase civilian oversight of the Austin Police Department. (Read the full text of the ordinance here.) Because the group met the 20,000 signature threshold, Council is required either to vote the proposal into law or place it in the next election in the next 10 days. Because of the timing of the validation, the next qualifying election will be in May 2023. In a series of statements about the validation, Equity Action members urged Council to vote the ordinance into law instead of waiting for May. “The people of Austin have sent a clear message that they don’t want another police contract that enables unaccountable police brutality and misconduct,” said Chris Harris, the president of Equity Action. “While we would’ve preferred to have this go to the voters in order to avoid another four or five years of police secrecy and impunity, the Austin City Council must vote the ordinance into law themselves right now. Passing this now strengthens police oversight and transparency in this next contract, but postponing until a May ’23 election means waiting until the contract in 2026 or 2027 to improve police accountability. This should be an easy choice for this Council.”
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