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© Koshu Kunii
DefundAustinPolice.com was put together in hopes it is useful to those who want to know more about defunding policing. If you are on this page, you probably fall into one of the next three main categories:

  1. You see the calls to defund policing in Austin, and you agree this is what we need because you have been harmed by policing or working towards abolition for a while. If this is you, please know we are open to feedback and want to make sure we present a holistic framework and tools for your friends and loved ones to interact with policing and defunding content.
  2. You recently heard about efforts to defund the police in Austin and want to learn more about what this means. Maybe defunding doesn’t sound like the right approach or slogan, but you genuinely want to learn how to be in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+, immigrants, and other communities who are calling for defunding. If this is you, welcome! We hope this site helps you understand this effort. Please let us know how you are interacting with the content and any feedback you may have.
  3. You’ve heard about defunding the police, and you think it’s absolutely ridiculous, laughable, and unfair. You may have also made up your mind that it’s the wrong approach and the wrong slogan. We hear you. Thinking of a world without policing asks us to defy everything we have been taught about safety and who can provide it, and it may seem like we are asking for a world without accountability. If this is you, we hope that you are here to at least try to see and hear what we are saying. As Paula Rojas writes, the biggest cop to overcome is the one in our hearts and in our minds. If you are here to leave bad vibes or to see how you can bring down the movement and momentum, know that you have centuries of ancestral protection, knowledge, and hard work to overcome, and we wish you healing.

In general, we invite you to interact with the page and the content. Please feel free to share anything and sign the pledge to remain in touch and receive action alerts. We are working on getting content in Spanish and other languages, and will let you know when that is up and running. If you want to help us make that happen, please send us a message info@grassrootsleadership.org.

Policing around us at a glance

  1. City
    • In Austin, the total current funding for the Austin Police Department is 40% of the city budget, or roughly $400 million.
    • 44% of approved APD contract money is for biometrics/surveillance. One of these contracts is for an Automatic License Plate reader that captured over 25 million license plate readings from 2016-2017 and shared the information with 817 law enforcement agencies.
    • APD has a gang suppression unit and the Austin ISD Police has a joint juvenile gang taskforce. Gang lists and units have a troubled history of racial profiling.
    • While the majority of APD funding comes from the city, APD has also applied for and received external grants. An example is the 1 million dollar grant that APD received from the Department of Justice for the Riverside Togetherness Project (RTP). The RTP increased policing in the Riverside area, where Mike Ramos was shot and killed by APD.
    • The City of Austin and the Austin Police Department routinely cooperate with ICE through their surveillance operations and data sharing.
    • Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk, who before coming to Austin was the City Coordinator in Minneapolis where George Floyd was killed, is in charge of drafting the budget and presenting it to the City Council on July 13th.
    • This year budget hearings are scheduled for July 23rd, 30th, and August 4th. Final vote to approve the budget will take place from August 12th-14th.
  2. County
    • In Travis County, the Justice System and Public Safety budget item — which includes the Sheriff’s department — take up 1/3 of the county’s general funds.
    • Travis County currently has an electronic monitoring contract with a company owned by prison profiteer CoreCivic as well as database contracts with companies that routinely share information with ICE.
    • Travis County is a partner with the Austin Intelligence Regional Center and has an active contract with them.
    • ICE has open access to the Travis County Jail and all database records.
    • The Preliminary County Budget will be published by July 27, 2020. The budget and tax rate will be adopted on September 29, 2020.
  3. Surrounding Areas
    • While we are focusing our efforts on the City of Austin and Travis County, it is important to keep an eye on our neighboring counties, particularly Bastrop, Williamson, Hays, and Caldwell. Investment of money in policing at the expense of community needs is not exclusive to large urban areas. Suburban and rural counties and cities dedicate significant resources to policing that could be used to infuse local economies. An example of this is the alarming rate of U.S. Department of Agriculture grants that are used for incarceration purposes.
    • In all cities and counties in Texas, policing inevitably leads to the ICE detention and deportation pipeline due to SB4, surveillance, and data sharing.