Tell Austin City Council to Vote YES on the Freedom City Policy

There is a crisis in Austin: too many people of color are arrested and jailed in our community. It is sometimes hidden, other times it is in plain sight. And the problem isn’t just in Austin, but something people of color are fighting in cities around the country.

 

But Austin is our home and it is where we have the power to make the change we want to see.

 

On June 14, Austin City Council is considering our Freedom City policy, which is comprised of two items, 74 and 73. We need your support to make it a reality for our community.  The Freedom City policy is a step toward our vision for a city that is inclusive and safe for all, a Freedom City. Resolution 74 directs the City of Austin to create policy to further protect immigrant community members and their constitutional rights under SB4. And resolution 73 directs the city to reduce racial disparities in arrests and eliminate the low-level arrests that APD doesn’t have to make in the first place. Many arrests are eligible for citation instead (it is even already in state law!).

The struggle to make Austin safe for people of color and immigrants is going to be a long fight. But this is a step forward we can take together in our own community. We hope you’ll join us to fight for this victory now and join the movement for #FreedomCities with us for the long haul.

 

The message below will be sent to city council members with your signature when you fill out the form on the left.  (If you need to, you can find your city council district here.)

 

And if you can, we invite you to join Grassroots Leadership, Texas Advocates for Justice, Workers Defense Project, United We Dream, and others on June 14 for this historic vote.

 

Dear Austin City Council Members,

I am writing today to urge you to vote yes on the Freedom City Policy, which includes items 73 and 74.

I am deeply concerned about the increasingly brazen racism in our politics, exemplified by Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions’ anti-immigrant policies, SB4, and a re-embrace of “tough-on-crime” rhetoric that has been used to target communities of color and drive mass incarceration.

I believe that Austin can do more to ensure that local law enforcement isn’t a tool of those that seek to intentionally oppress people of color. For instance, Black and Latinx people comprised over 75% of those arrested for low-level cannabis possession by the Austin Police Department in 2017.

The Freedom City Policy directs the city to reduce racial disparities in arrests and to implement policy changes to eliminate unnecessary low-level arrests like cannabis possession that disproportionately affect people of color and which, under SB4 can lead to indefinite detention and deportation for undocumented people. The policy also directs the city to pursue accepting additional forms of ID for proving local residence and to make sure immigrants are aware of their constitutional rights during interactions with officers.

In addition, while SB4 restricts limiting collusion with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), I believe that we need to know more about when and how our city resources and police are called upon to act as agents for ICE. To that end, the Freedom City Policy requires additional documentation and transparency about ICE activities in our city and their use of local resources.

In order to rightfully claim the label “progressive,” Austin must be a leader in protecting immigrant communities and eliminating racial bias from policing. Our leaders must stand up to national and state politicians exploiting fear and racism, and fight for families at risk of being separated or having loved ones unnecessarily jailed.

Voting yes on the Freedom City Policy (Items 73 and 74) will make Austin a safer and more just community for everyone.

I trust in you to do the right thing.