Greg Abbott signed a bill directly targeted at harming Black and brown communities.
Yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott signed a slate of bills, half of which punished cities for ANY REDUCTION in police budgets or any reallocation of funds from law enforcement to other community programs. The bill only applies to cities with populations over 250,000. That includes Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, El Paso, Arlington, Corpus Christi, Plano, Loredo, and Lubbock.
Of those 11 cities, only Plano and Corpus Christi have a majority white population. In the other nine cities, white people are the minority.
While Republicans call these bills “Back the Blue” and “Anti-Defunding,” these are just catchy slogans that take away from the truth of what these bills actually do.
HB1900 is one of the bills Abbott signed. What the bill says it does is freezes property tax revenues for cities with a population over 250,000 that defund the police. Under this law, cities that defund the police will lose their annexation powers for 10 years, and any area annexed by a defunding city in the past 30 years can vote to dis-annex from the city. It also allows the State of Texas to withhold sales taxes collected by a defunding city and give it to the Texas Department of Public Safety to pay for the cost of state resources used to protect residents of a defunded municipality.
Under the definition of this bill, “defund” means reducing the police budget at all, even by $1. This means if a city is in a budget crisis or we’re in a recession, if one of the minority-majority cities above cuts their budget, even by $1, Greg Abbott will freeze tax revenue for those cities. Only the 11 largest cities are affected by this bill.
What is the point of this bill?
According to Republicans, the point of this bill was retaliation for their misconceived perception that Austin defunded their police department. However, that never happened. Austin cut their police budget by 5%. Most of their supposed budget cuts were reinvesting that money into other areas, intended to make their community safer and reduce incidents of police murder.
Policing in American was established to maintain white supremacy, during the Antebellum Era, as slave patrols. Over the last several decades, expanding racially targeted policing and policies such as stop-and-frisk and the “war on drugs” has helped fuel mass incarceration.
Is this law about maintaining white supremacy? Look at the picture above and all who attended the signing of the bill. What do you think?
- Black people are incarcerated at 5x the rate of white people.
- Black and brown youth are disproportionately targeted by police and school resource officers.
- Over the last three decades, the federal government has transferred $6 billion of excess military equipment to local law enforcement agencies under its 1033 Program.
- Police have also undergone “warrior training” that teaches them to see every encounter as potentially life-threatening, especially when those encounters involve people of color, then enjoy the kill.
- Every year, on-duty police kill an average of 1,000 people.
- Recent studies prove that thousands of active-duty police officers are part of racist and anti-government groups.
- Body cams have been shown not to result in less violent behavior.
- In America, we collectively spend $100 billion a year on policing. At the same time, needed investments in education, health care, housing, and other critical programs go unfulfilled, particularly in poor communities and communities of color.
Defunding is a stupid term because too many people (especially Republicans) don’t understand what that means or why reinvestment in communities is needed.
The ACLU says that “defunding” would make communities safer. The entire “defund” movement started after the George Floyd murder because communities want police to stop killing their citizens.
People with untreated mental illnesses are 16x more likely to be killed by law enforcement. Communities want mental health professionals to respond to mental health crises instead of police. The idea is to reduce the number of police killings. This is what reinvesting in a community looks like.
In this new law, which only applies to 11 cities, almost all of which are minority-majority, the State aims to stop communities from moving dollars in their police budget to fund mental health professionals. In these same cities, because they are minority-majority cities, residents are more likely to be killed in a police encounter or more likely to be incarcerated.
It’s almost as if the Republican leadership in Texas wants police officers to continue to murder Black and brown people.
The statistics on police brutality in BIPOC communities, the current state of policing, and listening to the experts on making the situation better are something Republican lawmakers and Greg Abbott never considered. Murder at the hands of law enforcement isn’t going to go away unless communities actively do something about it. With the signing of this bill yesterday, Greg Abbott made sure that communities can’t reinvest in themselves to make their cities safer from police violence.
Obsession with crime and punishment is a tell tale of fascism.
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