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Rally today in support of police resolutions

Thursday, June 14, 2018 by Jo Clifton

City Council will be considering two resolutions aimed at reducing the Austin Police Department’s number of discretionary arrests and protecting the rights of local immigrants after their dinner break tonight. Council Member Greg Casar requested that the resolutions be considered in the evening because representatives from Grassroots Leadership, the Workers Defense Project and United We Dream will be holding a rally at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. to voice their support for the resolutions. Although state law allows police to issue a citation in lieu of arrest for minor offenses, including possession of marijuana and driving without a valid license, city data show that black and Latino residents are more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts charged with the same offenses. One resolution directs the city manager to work with the police chief to take the appropriate steps to eliminate discretionary arrests when it is feasible to write a ticket or issue a citation. Such a program would not only reduce the budgetary impact of such arrests, according to the resolution, but it would also reduce racial disparities in the city. The second resolution states that Council supports the police chief’s recent adoption of orders that not only comply with state law but also protect the constitutional and legal rights of people interacting with the department. The same resolution directs the manager to work with the chief “to take necessary and appropriate steps to further ensure in light of unfunded mandates imposed by Texas Senate Bill 4, that the city’s policing resources are prioritized, and that requests for federal immigration enforcement assistance are appropriately vetted and scrutinized.” Although Senate Bill 4 prevents the city from telling its officers not to ask a person about their immigration status, the resolution seeks to ensure that anyone being questioned about their status or country of origin be informed of their rights before answering questions.

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