Six months after the Austin City Council passed a resolution ordering him to do so, police chief Brian Manley announced that officers would not be making arrests or writing tickets for low-level and non-violent marijuana offenses.
"APD will no longer cite or arrest individuals with sufficient identification for Class A or Class B misdemeanor 'possession of marijuana' offenses, unless there is an immediate threat to a person's safety or doing so as part of the investigation of a high priority, felony-level narcotics case or the investigation of a violent felony," according to a memo from Manley to Mayor Steve Adler and City Council shared by Council Member Greg Casar.
BREAKING: Austin has finally (finally!) ended all personal marijuana arrests & tickets. Details below. [1/4] https://t.co/5C7Hzqf4xf— Gregorio Casar (@Gregorio Casar)1593715827.0
The City Council approved the resolution—effectively ending the practice—in defiance of state leaders, in January. While the city did not outrightly ban the police from writing tickets or making arrests, the city voted to no longer pay for marijuana testing except in case of high-priority felonies, making it near impossible to achieve a conviction in the cases.
But Manley did not follow their orders, saying possession of marijuana was still illegal at the state level.
"At this point, nothing will change," Manley said in January. "We will handle it as we have."
Testing became crucial after the state passed a bill legalizing hemp, a non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana that still contains a minute amount of THC. As a result, law enforcement and prosecutors around the state would need to test any substances found to ensure it was illegal marijuana and not legal hemp.
As the city moved to effectively decriminalize marijuana over the last year, council members and advocates in support of the measure often cited that fact that Black Austin residents were much more likely to be arrested for possession, despite equivalent use across races—a trend that has gone on for years.
"This victory is a small step compared to the transformational change that we must make this summer to our City's budget and policing practices," Casar tweeted Thursday afternoon.
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Jordan Vonderhaar for the Texas Tribune
By Jordan Vonderhaar
Throughout the summer, cities in Texas and around the country have seen protests and demonstrations against police brutality. On Saturday, protesters and law enforcement clashed in Austin, a week after protester Garrett Foster, who was openly carrying an AK-47 rifle — which is legal in Texas — was shot and killed by Daniel Perry, a U.S. Army sergeant, when he approached his car. Perry drove away, then called the police. Perry was released without being charged. Since then, questions have been raised about who was the aggressor.
State police in riot gear form a line along Congress Avenue and advance toward protesters to remove them from the street.
Armed protesters ride in the back of a pickup truck from a rally at the University of Texas to a memorial for Garrett Foster in downtown Austin, minutes after hearing of clashes between other protesters and police.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTQyNC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1ODIyMjM1NX0.Ao_4mTkOPw2syjKbKcQJSX-O44dFCRJDbbJgBMFW6dw/img.png?width=980" id="24906" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="267e200551ef2a141d6b5e9bd15ba829" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A man with a sniper rifle slung over his shoulder stands among protesters who have gathered at the Garrett Foster memorial in downtown Austin.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTQyNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MzcxOTkzMn0._GAt1E-AidcOYzOR9_kGbBL7DrvDvCMjfYMb0f0WH-g/img.png?width=980" id="824e1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="719f945f43055599a57dacc9de8544f0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A protester confronts police in riot gear.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTQyNi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwODcxOTUwMH0.OyE5LkJbim9Q8U1iOfd0DDASgIPXcCtuK1b-JjZUO_g/img.png?width=980" id="bd7a7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1631c952a901a274eabfa54e35d52d4f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Mounted officers from the Austin Police Department clash with protesters on the corner of Fourth Street and Congress Avenue in downtown Austin.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTQyNy9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMDc2NzMzMX0.5oNfDZ3YkyoOQY_A8d1YZ84g26bZnHfhwyjdKlCbePI/img.png?width=980" id="87444" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5d0ff1e47c454529947cbe4c71c0af21" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Mounted officers from the Austin Police Department clash with protesters on the corner of Fourth Street and Congress Avenue in downtown Austin.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTQyOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzAyNzk4Nn0.cyEJ5DmzyaztsRnV9fqhaenYnQ7cs514KUZCYV3TkQg/img.png?width=980" id="8e069" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="163047eb1ea7762ba8ed4efb115d291f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
State police were present large numbers.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTQ4Ny9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQwNTUwOX0.s1h3VhX-ZEoitvy3qvkZlyEaYRLrHNHVe2BQvaMSKSM/img.png?width=980" id="c93b3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="534a7361ca0a2956a9e5b05679f6d7b7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A protester armed with a baseball bat kneels in the street with fist upraised as protesters clashed with police in downtown Austin on Aug. 1, 2020.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTQ5MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMjI2NjQ0N30.kFHZTlq4mDkfrojMmPr1xplOlaTBNWa5lnCHBwL-qGA/img.png?width=980" id="e49af" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f01dc35d33515df682261c675cf6557f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Members of the far-right Proud Boys militia stand on Congress Avenue across from the Garrett Foster memorial in downtown Austin.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTQ5Mi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1OTMxNzA3Mn0.J1V0eqSXZrKQ1H5HOJkJiTYXc0FSi2sNBj0pixxi77s/img.png?width=980" id="7ad19" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a87090215d4bface5de31b64aee3ed53" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A woman with her hands zip-tied waits to be loaded onto a bus after being arrested during protests against police brutality in downtown Austin.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTQ5My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1ODkwNzQ1NX0.pgAlN0FxLyz7j-3GoGOydiZvN7qHbMEl4OGjQ61Fv5o/img.png?width=980" id="88094" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6e7885cb303bd9fbbaf42b5dbf6faa68" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Police load arrested protesters into a Travis County Sheriff Department bus.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTQ5NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMDU1MDM2N30.kPIhv7ql-g4udho-dUkBsL3hRCTiVw68W9VjaN7lM7Y/img.png?width=980" id="4b83b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c31093d1dcd50afded51595193080595" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A police officer sprays a protester with pepper spray as demonstrators clash with police in downtown Austin<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTQ5OC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzU5MzI2NX0.bAbIMFbFlBCxqy3RLK07q7j5bYjH403lxd6ATgzD-zc/img.png?width=980" id="da3a9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="86830ba7dbdd9ef95a4c6e89833f89ef" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A heavy police presence marked Saturday's protest in downtown Austin.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTQ5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUxODMwMn0.O473UBVJdDTq5QYJGR3pKhJ8LbVYB8TdO3rZ4qO7-g0/img.png?width=980" id="628a9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5f3153935cd4709ccaa8af74403665ec" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
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