AUSTIN — Austin City Council hearing room erupted in cheers Thursday night when in a unanimous vote, the Council voted to pass a Freedom City Policy, which favors measures to increase the safety of people of color and immigrants in Austin.
People of color and immigrants in Austin have been facing a crisis as they are drastically overrepresented in arrests, jailings, and removal from the community. Policing of Black and Brown people unnecessarily tears families and communities apart. Passing a Freedom City Policy will take steps to reduce racial disparities in arrests, reduce discretionary arrests, require full vetting and reporting on requests by ICE for APD resources, and ensure officers who ask about immigration status inform people of their rights to not answer, as well as complete a report explaining the encounter.
It is clear by the hundreds of people who showed up tonight at City Hall that the community strongly stands with Black and Brown and immigrant communities. No longer should communities be allowed to be over-policed, discriminated against, and ripped apart from one another due to racist policies. The city deserve policies that reflect the best interests of community members. Tonight, council members stood on the right side of history as they voted with the safety of people of color and immigrants in mind.
“We are excited about our victory tonight. This is an important first step for the city to take,” said Rebecca Sanchez of Grassroots Leadership. “This is a long term struggle and we are in part one of what is actually a decathlon. We’re committed to fighting for a city where we redefine safety for ourselves — and not through badges, and where we determine how our communities thrive.”
José Garza, Director of Workers Defense Project states, “Tonight City Council voted to uphold our values as a community by passing the #FreedomCity Policies. These policies will protect the constitutional rights of immigrants and make sure that Austin is a safe place to live for everyone regardless of race or immigration status.”
Karen Reyes leader of United We Dream Austin adds,"As Trump and House Republicans in Congress are on a mission to pass two anti-immigrant bills that would build up Trump’s and Abbott's deportation force, tear families apart, and militarize the homes of communities along the border. We appreciate the bold leadership from our local city council members to protect the community. This victory would not have been possible without the organizing efforts of all the community members involved in combating the injustices facing people of color and immigrants in the city of Austin. We continue to organize to counter the threats to the immigrant community brought by SB 4 and work toward making Austin a Freedom City where we can thrive in the city we call home, because we are here to stay."”
This Freedom City Policy is a step in the direction to make Austin a truly inclusive community for all who reside within it.
# # #
Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation and criminalization are things of the past.
United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a powerful nonpartisan network made up of 55 affiliate organizations in 26 states. UWD organizes and advocates for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status. We seek to address the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth and believe that by empowering immigrant youth, we can advance the cause of the entire community—justice for all immigrants. You can find more about UWD online at www.unitedwedream.org.
Workers Defense Project is a statewide membership organization established in 2002 that fights to win dignified working conditions for Texas workers and advocates for justice for immigrants. For updates follow us at @WorkersDefense.