New social justice group JUST America wants Austin Police Chief Brian Manley gone after talks break down
A new Austin-based group focused on racial injustice and policing announced on Tuesday its support for the resignation of Austin Police Chief Brian Manley—just days after standing with him to publicly support changes at the police department in the wake of the recent protests.
Standing in front of the downtown police headquarters, organizers at JUST America said they have faced "backlash from the community" after a news conference with Manley last week, and that the "entire situation has been a tough journey for us."
But the reason for the reversal, said organizer Eric Lee Brown, was that Manley had not continued the dialogue with them in the days since last Thursday's press conference at the Boys and Girls Club during an Austin City Council meeting focused on police reforms.
"I do want to thank Chief Brian Manley for meeting with us that one time in such a short amount of time," Brown said. "However, after the events unfolded and the lack of terms met between JUST America and the community with APD, we would like to announce to the public that we formally and publicly support the resignation and/or firing of Chief Brian Manley."
Some of the first public signs of JUST America appeared on social media some 48 hours before the council approved a series of overhauls that included slashing the police budget and staff, as well as a no-confidence vote on the chief.
The resolutions were born out of violent clashes between police and demonstrators protesting the police shooting death of Austin resident Michael Ramos and George Floyd in Minneapolis.
JUST America's press conference with Manley raised eyebrows on social media and among more established social justice groups like Austin Justice Coalition—which has a long history of meeting with the chief but has publicly called for his resignation or removal—because they were brand new and appeared to be supporting Manley.
Brown said at the press conference that their organization knew at some point the relationship forged between JUST America and the police, stemming from their connection with a police officer in the rank and file, would eventually deteriorate.
"Knowing that he was not going to meet our demands, our end goal has always been to stand with the community," Brown said, "but we wanted to make as many changes as possible before we did so."
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