Dec. 16, 2020 Letter to Kitchen
Council Member Ann Kitchen
In August 2020, Council Member Kitchen assured members of D5 for Black Lives that she was committed to holding City Manager Cronk and Chief Manley accountable for police racism and violence.
Uniformed members of APD have been photographed with Proud Boys
An APD Commander has made false and incendiary claims about crime in Austin
APD has purchased more of the “less lethal” rounds that injured peaceful protesters
In light of these distressing events, members of our organizing team have drafted a letter to CM Kitchen. We are asking CM Kitchen to provide specific details about her efforts to hold APD leadership accountable. We need CM Kitchen to take a more proactive leadership stance on these issues.Members of our organizing team have signed their names to this letter. We invite you, as a member of the D5 for Black Lives community, to add your name as well using THIS petition link. We will deliver the letter with all the signatures we collect on Wednesday, December 16th. Let Kitchen know you STILL care!
Council Member Ann Kitchen
From: [Your Name]
Council Member Kitchen,
We on the District 5 for Black Lives (“D5BL”) organizing team hope that this letter finds you well. The undersigned members of the District 5 for Black Lives community are writing regarding the lack of accountability for City Manager Cronk and Austin Police Department (“APD”) Chief Brian Manley. Included in the below are a number of questions to you and/or that we request you ask Manager Cronk and/or Chief Manley. We look forward to hearing your thoughts about the questions posed below.
I. ACCOUNTABILITY FOR CITY MANAGER CRONK & CHIEF MANLEY
During our conference call prior to the August 2020 budget meeting, you indicated that City Council had provided City Manager Cronk with guidelines for necessary improvement after he failed to follow Council’s direction to re-assign Chief Manley. You told us that Council had taken corrective action with City Manager Cronk by providing him guidelines for improvement.
Can you please provide us with a copy of the guidelines given to City Manager Cronk? Please also include any communications to or from City Manager Cronk regarding these guidelines or his successes/failures in meeting them. Please consider this a request under the Freedom of Information Act. If you require a request submitted through the City Attorney’s Office or other methods, please let us know.
Accountability for City Manager Cronk and Chief Manley are particularly important given recent failures of APD under their watch.
II. UNIFORMED APD PHOTOGRAPHED WITH HATE GROUP THAT ENDORSES RACISM AND WHITE SUPREMACY
On November 1, 2020, uniformed APD officers posed for photos with groups affiliated with the Proud Boys and other “white power” organizations, endorsing racism and white supremacy culture.
These pictures depict a congregation of at least eight uniformed police officers, associating with at least one Proud Boy (black and yellow).
These pictures violate numerous provisions of the APD Policy Manual, including (1) being photographed wearing any part of a police uniform to support or oppose any political campaign or initiative or social issue or cause [Policy 801.6(a)-(b)]; (2) knowingly associating with “any person or organization which advocates hatred, prejudice, or oppression of any person or group . . . .” [Policy 900.3.3(e)]; (3) the congregation of more than four officers except as part of official police duties or authorized by a supervisor [Policy 900.3.2(d)1]; and (4) use of an APD issued bicycle outside the course of their duties [Policy 500.5(a)1].
Our concern is that APD officers will choose to protect only those who agree with their political and social view.
What actions will you take to ensure that police protect all members of the public even when they disagree with their political views?
We are aware that there is currently an internal affairs investigation regarding this matter. But we request that you ask Manager Cronk and Chief Manley the following questions as a first step in accountability:
Does APD provide training on white supremacist terrorist groups?
Was this congregation of eight uniformed police officers in front of City Hall required by official police duties or authorized by a supervisor?
III. APD COMMANDER C. JOHNSON TRANSMITTING FALSE CLAIMS
Our concern that members of APD are not accountable to the City Government that employs them also extends to the command staff. On October 29, 2020, APD Commander Cat Johnson promoted Paxton’s false claim that “Austin is one of the most dangerous cities in America”. It is particularly dangerous when false claims are spread by leadership within the institution tasked with enforcing the City’s laws to protect all Austinites.
Commander Johnson knows this claim is false. Commander Johnson’s dissemination of this false information violates APD Policy 900.2.2, which prohibits employees from “being a party to any malicious gossip” which includes “statements made with knowledge of their falsity or made without regard to whether the statements are true or false.”
Please ask Manager Cronk and Chief Manley what action has been taken in response to Commander Johnson’s violation of police policy.
If Manager Cronk or Chief Manley contend Austin is unsafe, ask them why Austinites should believe they can accomplish the goals of the City under their leadership, when they could not keep Austin safe with pre-reallocation funding over $400,000,000.
IV. CHIEF MANLEY & MANAGER CRONK PURCHASE MORE “LESS LETHAL” ROUNDS
After his officers used “less lethal” rounds on a sixteen year old, causing permanent brain damage, Chief Manley assured the City Council that he would no longer use such weapons on the public. As reported by KUT, the next day, APD purchased more of these weapons. In August 2020, the City, under the leadership of Manager Cronk, purchased yet more of these weapons.
When will City Council hold Chief Manley and CManager Cronk accountable for the commitments they made to protect public safety?
We believe you share our goal of creating accountable public safety institutions that efficiently serve all Austinites. We believe that Chief Manley and Manager Cronk must be held accountable for their actions. We believe that the Austin police department needs leadership that will protect and serve Black, Latinx, and residents made vulnerable by racism and structural inequities. Building an Austin that is safe for everyone requires significant structural change.
We look forward to hearing from you regarding each of our requests and working with you on this critical community issue.
Juniper Lauren Ross