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Assistant Chief Joe Chacon briefs the media on the first day of early voting last October. (Austonia staff)

Assistant Police Chief Joe Chacon will serve as interim police chief of the Austin Police Department following the retirement of Brian Manley on March 28. City Manager Spencer Cronk is conducting a national search for Manley's permanent successor and plans to make an appointment by August. "We need to have a chief in short order," he said during a press conference on Monday.

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As Texas gets ready to lift the mandatory mask mandate on March 10, food and bar workers gathered at the Texas Capitol to express their frustration with the lack of COVID-19 precautions without adequate access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The event, which began at 1 p.m. on Monday, was hosted by the Austin chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, Restaurant Organizing Project and The Amplified Sound Coalition.
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Emojis Grilled Cheese Bar owner Hope Green.

After the devastating blow of the pandemic, Emojis Grilled Cheese Bar owner Hope Green saw a surge in sales last summer. The outpouring of community support for Black-owned businesses came in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice. But for Emojis the support has been fleeting.

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Austin Police confront a crowd at the May 30, 2020, protest over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Michael Ramos in Austin. (Jana Birchum)

After weeks of protests in the spring of 2020, anti-policing activist sold the Austin City Council on the idea that the police department was bloated and far too unaccountable. The council voted in August 2020 to launch policy reforms, transfer certain units to independent control, trim the police budget by about 5 percent, and reinvest the savings in social services.

However, according to a first-quarter financial report, spending on policing actually increased in the first three months after the new budget took effect October 1, 2020, from $111.97 million in 2019 to $112.2 million in 2020. While that's not much of an increase, it's quite a bit off from the 5 percent cut that should be in effect, and it's a far cry from the even deeper cuts that activists had hoped for.

Read the full story on The Austin Bulldog.