AUSTIN, Texas — Less than a week after holding a press conference with Austin Police Chief Brian Manley regarding policy changes at the department, JUST America has announced it supports the notion for the chief to resign.
The newly formed organization released a written statement prior to a planned press conference Tuesday afternoon:
"After talks with Chief Manley and his team, JUST America was able to address issues within the department regarding accountability in the language. JUST America has maintained a middle strategic ground as a means of exposure. We have faced tremendous backlash from the community regarding our organization. In reality, the entirety of our strategy will be revealed here today.
We have attempted to establish communication with Manley’s office again. Unfortunately, our demands are no longer being met. This entire situation has been a tough journey for us. However, even in the face of criticism we remained strong and remained true to our plan."
On June 11, JUST American and the police chief came together to announce four policies they agreed upon regarding police reform. At the time, the chief said he believed it is time for change and that he was willing to adopt four amendments to the department's General Orders:
- Law enforcement officers and staff may not utilize restraint or holds around the neck of any kind, by either person, object or device, in the course of dealing with suspect detainees or inmates. Such action will result in immediate referral to the department’s disciplinary process.
- If the body-worn camera system is found to have been intentionally deactivated during a critical incident, said officer will be subjected to indefinite suspension per the disciplinary process.
- If an investigation reveals that the body-worn camera system was tampered with intentionally, the officer will be referred to the appropriate district attorney for review.
- The APD will inform the Austin City Council immediately of all amendments to the General Orders and policing policies within 24 hours. Information will also be posted to the APD website within 24 hours.
JUST America was formed by a group of people that participated in the recent protests regarding the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Mike Ramos here in Austin at the hands of police.
"We were all peaceful protesters that would go from one location to another, and we realized that in a majority of the protests, there was almost a lack of direction for the next steps after the protests," said JUST America co-president Eric Brown last week.
Brown said the organization is comprised of mostly black members focused on using conversation to spark change. In addition to focusing on Austin policing, Brown said the group is also working on homeless outreach, starting a mental health program, highlighting black businesses and talking to families affected by police brutality.
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