Thursday, June 21, 2018

#atxcouncil: Casar's so-called "Freedom City" plan isn't a big deal (Republican hysteria notwithstanding)

"He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own
Is like one who takes a dog by the ears."
Proverbs 26:17

Last week, while we were at convention, council passed a largely symbolic measure:
Amid the controversy over sanctuary cities, Austin this month took its fight against strict immigration law enforcement a step further by declaring itself to be the first “freedom city” in Texas. City Council members unanimously passed two resolutions last week that will restrict police attempts to question immigrants about their status and curtail arrests for nonviolent crimes.

One of the new city resolutions requires officers who question immigrants about status to also say that their questions about immigration need not be answered. The other resolution directs police to avoid arrests for misdemeanors, including those for smoking marijuana, having drug paraphernalia, and taking part in petty theft — crimes that city data shows frequently end in arrests of black and Latino residents.


“Poor people of color in our city are over-punished and over-incarcerated,” said Greg Casar, an Austin City Councilman who pushed for the resolutions. “If people are being arrested less, we can also prevent people from being put in the deportation pipeline.”

“We found that black and Latino residents comprised 75% of discretionary arrests for driving with licenses invalid in the city even though they are 45% of the population of the city,” Casar said. “Black residents are seven times more likely to be arrested for low-level marijuana violations despite having comparable rates of usage of marijuana to white residents.”

Casar said the new rules could prevent up to 1,000 low-level arrests each year. Austin police arrest around 30,000 people a year.
The new policy has two parts: An immigration component and a marijuana component.


On immigration: The new policy stays well within the legal constraints of SB 4.  All the policy requires is that, if an APD officer wants to pursue a line of questioning related to federal immigration issues, the officer has to inform the suspect that the suspect has the right to remain silent.  That's it.

Guess what?!?  Under the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Miranda v. Arizona, EVERY.  SINGLE.  PERSON. arrested in the United States is already informed of their right to remain silent.  All the City of Austin's new policy states is that, if an APD officer wants to pursue immigration related questioning, the suspect must be "Miranadized" twice.

That's it.

[Confession: As someone who locks wits with Greg Casar on a fairly regular basis, we're impressed with how he's trolling the intent SB 4 while staying well within SB 4's letter.]


On marijuana: The new policy does nothing but discourage arrests for low level possession offenses (aka. decriminalization).

Well...guess who just endorsed marijuana decriminalization?!?

From the 2018 Platform of the Republican Party of Texas, Plank 107:
Civil Penalty: We support a change in the law to make it a civil, and not a criminal, offense for legal adults only to possess one ounce or less of marijuana for personal use, punishable by a fine of up to $100, but without jail time.
Soo...the City of Austin just adopted a policy that's consistent with the platform the Republican Party of Texas adopted last week.


Nevertheless, hysteria:

You're joking, right?!?

The city's new policy may or may not be wise, but the notion that it's a threat to public safety is silly.

Austin Texas is one of the safest cities in the country.  Despite having the fifth largest population in Texas, we're #17 in crime.  The notion that "double-mirandizing" immigration suspects and de-prioritizing marijuana arrests will change that reality is, once again, silly.

But what do we know?!?  We only live in a 70% Hispanic neighborhood in East Austin....

Don't get us started on the ridiculous e-mails we've received.


It's also worth pointing out that we vetted this proposal two weeks ago.  We didn't see anything (major) wrong with it then, and none of the silliness we've seen since then changes our mind.  But nice of the rest of y'all to belatedly figure out this was happening.


Then there's the fact that, by reducing the number of arrests, the new policy might actually save money.


Bottom Line: Priorities people.... 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.