Mayor Steve Adler announces initiatives for anti-racist policy, marches alongside Austin protesters


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Mayor Steve Adler released a letter Sunday, outlining a series of initiatives that would move toward anti-racist policy in Austin.

Adler begins the letter with, “The systemic killing of Black Americans must stop.” “We will heal by plotting a just and equitable way forward… together. We all have a role to play. This movement is the work of our lifetime. We must rise to the occasion. It has taken our country an embarrassingly long time to get here. People are angry. Fed up. Tired. Scared. Outraged. You should be,” he continues.

Outlining next steps, the letter goes on to say that Adler is committed to implementing “Campaign Zero’s 8 Can’t Wait” policies to restrict police use of force. The Mayor’s Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities Task Force will be forming a new non-profit to work toward that policy change, which Adler outlined below:

The mayor says three of the eight items are already in place in Austin — like warnings before a police shoots their weapon, duty to intervene and establish use of force continuum. KXAN has also reached out to the city of Austin for clarification about what policies of the 8 Can’t Wait Campaign are already in place.

Item 95 on the Austin City Council’s agenda next week would implement the remaining five, as pointed out by Adler. Those items include a ban on choke-holds and a ban on shooting at a moving vehicle.

“Real change is hard, uncomfortable and not without risk. But that’s okay. We have to lean into that discomfort in order to make real change,” Adler’s letter reads. Adler joined demonstrators in downtown Austin Sunday for the Black Austin Rally and March for Black Lives.

On Thursday, Adler committed to President Barack Obama’s and My Brother’s Keeper’s pledge related to use of force policies. The pledge asks communities to review police use of force policies, engage communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences and stories in the review, report the findings of the review to the community and reform the community’s police use of force policies.

Adler’s letter also says they will take action to prohibit tear gas and impact munitions on people exercising the First Amendment of the US Constitution — “the right to protest and to disrupt cannot be fraught with fear of injury,” the letter reads.

Adler says they will also take action to demilitarize the police and delay the new Austin Police Department cadet class until training is “where it needs to be.”

“I am here for the entire city council conversations about race and systemic inequities. (These are) hard conversations that I think people, who like me, need to spend a little bit more time listening,” Adler said.

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