police brutality

Feb 25, 2018
Austin Chronicle

Police: Special Pay Benefits Back, Contract Negotiations Coming Soon

"After a confusing bit of parliamentary gymnastics, City Council last week approved a pair of amendments directing the city manager to resume meet-and-confer negotiations with the Austin Police Association, and also restoring most of the special pay provisions officers lost when union membership voted against extending the old contract back in December. Though police interests praised the action, the city's activist community left the meeting on Thursday feeling like Council had forgotten the voices that only two months ago called for a new approach to public safety spending. At the tail-end of talks, Grass­roots Leadership organizer Chris Harris summed up the afternoon: 'We're banging our heads against a wall.'

... Harris was more blunt, asking why Council would restore funding when union membership could've agreed to an extension in Dec­ember. 'Three weeks ago, Bryan Richter, the officer that brutalized Breaion King, was finally fired after another brutal arrest,' he said. 'This is a force that still employs Patrick Spradlin, the officer who made blatantly racist remarks to King in the back of the vehicle. Instead of restoring perks that they walked away from, we ask that you restore the oversight that was also lost when the police left the negotiation table and killed their own contract.'

Despite those arguments, council members expressed concern about the impacts on officers and ultimately approved both resolutions. Negotiators will be tasked with increasing field training and longevity in the next round of bargaining. APA President Ken Casaday expressed satisfaction in the results and indicated that the union will be ready to go back to the table as soon as Council gives them a date. As that happens, the activist coalition will continue its work on a plan to overhaul the oversight process with an independent complaint system. 'We'd like to see a chance for something like it to get off the ground and see what it can do,' Harris said. 'And then see how it could be strengthened, potentially, via contract or some other method.'" [node:read-more:link]

Oct 19, 2017
Fox 7

Groups against 'police brutality' take a knee at Austin City Council

A group of protesters took a knee during the invocation of the Austin City Council meeting on Thursday, October 19. Criminal justice researcher and organizer Chris Harris spoke with Fox 7: "'We hope that we've been able to really clarify how take a knee is related to one thing and one thing only and that's racial inequality and police brutality in this country,' said Chris Harris with Grassroots Leadership. Harris says council should reject or make big changes to the city's contract with the Austin Police Association. 'From what we've seen of this contract this new contract that will be coming, it will not address any of the serious transparency, accountability and oversight issues that have plagued it since its beginning,' he said. 'Right now you have 48 hours as a police officer after a misconduct incident before you have to talk to an internal investigator. You have 48 hours with all the video, all the audio, all the witness statements to get your story straight. You get to talk to your union rep and to your lawyer. In that time if anyone else had that no crimes would be ever be convicted in this country it's absurd.' Harris is hoping they have support on council."

Action against police brutality planned for Thursday Austin City Council meeting

WHAT: Demonstration and press conference against Austin Police Brutality

WHO: Victims of police brutality at the hands of APD, their families, and supporters including Grassroots Leadership, Austin Justice Coalition, Black Sovereign Nation, Counter Balance ATX, Austin Justice Coalition, and the Texas Civil Rights Project

WHEN: Regular meeting of city council, Thursday, October 19 at 9:45 a.m. Central

WHERE: Austin City Hall Council Chamber, 301 W 2nd St. [node:read-more:link]

Sep 15, 2017
Austin Chronicle

Activists' Hopes for Police Negotiations Hinge on Statute of Limitations

Criminal justice organizers with Grassroots Leadership are advocating for an end to the police contract negotiations, known as the meet-and-confer process, that foster a culture of impunity. "'We have met and did not confer,' said Lewis Conway of Grassroots Leadership. 'Because, at this point, that whole meet-and-confer process is useless. It's outdated. There's no fixing it. And part of that process is the Review Panel."' The Austin Chronicle article sheds light on the disparities between police rhetoric and the demands of justice advocates on this broken process.

The article also describes this video created by Grassroots staff Chris Harris showing the comments of APA President Ken Casaday on the brutal arrest of Breaion King in July 2015. "In a harshly spliced video shown during City Council's Aug. 31 meeting, Casaday is seen talking about King's arrest at a bargaining session – reminding city negotiators that two commanders looked at the case and saw 'perhaps a training issue,' but no violation of APD policy. Between his comments are clips from the dash-cam footage of King being wrestled to the ground. 'It's jarring,' said Chris Harris, the film's creator. 'But I think gets across well what we're facing with the meet-and-confer process, and why it's pointless to negotiate under current conditions.' Supporting that point, albeit unintentionally, Casaday reminded that any change to the provision would cost the city elsewhere. These are negotiations, after all." [node:read-more:link]

Aug 17, 2017
The Austin Chronicle

Advocates: Reject Police Union Contract

City Council is holding budget hearings later this afternoon, with testimony expected on the proposed property tax rate, any fee changes, etc. Criminal justice advocates say they will be there to oppose the current Austin Police Association contract, and demand greater accountability over officer misconduct.

At a morning press conference prior to the Council meeting, Matthew Wallace, accompanied by attorneyBrian McGiverin, described his November 2015 arrest by Austin police officers, allegedly for “jaywalking” across Red River Street near Sixth. Wallace described being attacked, kneed, and punched by police that night, and recounted his arrest on a charge of “resisting arrest.” Those charges were eventually dropped by prosecutors.


Supporting Wallace were representatives of several criminal justice advocacy groups, among themCounter Balance: ATXTexas Criminal Justice CoalitionAustin Justice Coalition, and Grassroots Leadership. They declared their opposition to the existing APA union contract, saying that it does not require adequate accountability for offending officers (“Double or Nothing,” May 26). They said current contract negotiations are not making progress on those issues, and they would ask Council today to reject the contract and “reset” the entire process.

McGiverin said he considers the current contract, despite its negotiated creation of the Office of Police Monitor and the Citizens Review Panel, as effectively “toothless,” without serious enforcement authority. Should the city return to no union contract and only Civil Service provisions, McGiverin said, it would serve as an opportunity to “start over” and push for substantive officer accountability. [node:read-more:link]

Jun 5, 2015

The Full Transcript Of Heems' Lecture On Police Brutality And South Asian American Apathy

A conversation on prison in America wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the prison industrial complex and private prisons. The term “prison industrial complex” is used to attribute the rapid expansion of the US inmate population to the political influence of private prison companies and businesses that supply goods and services to government prison agencies. People get paid off of prison, basically. The term is derived from the military industrial complex of the 1950s.

In 2010 the Department of Homeland Security adopted a bed quota that required Immigration and Custom Enforcement to detain about 34,000 individuals on any given day. The quota certainly did not benefit immigrants, but it did prove to be extraordinarily lucrative for the private prison companies that picked up the new business. A report released last week by Grassroots Leadership, a Texas non-profit, details how private prison companies have spent five years lobbying the government, not only to maintain that bed quota, but to enact conservative immigration reform that would continue to ensure a steady flow of inmates into its detention centers. So they get paid to put immigrants in beds in private prisons, in America. [node:read-more:link]

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