Austin, Texas has experienced rapid gentrification and seen Black people displaced amid significant population shifts. If that’s not concerning enough, over-policing has gone hand-in-hand with this displacement. And Black people are experiencing police encounters at alarming rates.
According to city data, Black people in Austin are overrepresented by 7% in Austin traffic stops while the white population is underrepresented by 7%. What makes this even worse? Black people actually account for 25% of the arrests in the city, even though they only represent 8% of the population. Ridiculous!
The city knows what it’s doing. It was the city’s Office of Police Oversight, Office of Innovation, and Equity Office that commissioned the report that revealed this information. The disparities exposed show the problem has worsened since 2015.
When the community responded to the report, the Public Safety Commission heard what they had to say. One commissioner even admitted it does not “appear to be justified.” Clearly, there’s a large gap between what needs to change and what’s happening in reality.
Cities like Austin are a perfect example of how Black people are still subject to being targeted by police even as Black population sizes drastically decrease. It shows that sometimes it’s not about crime. Sometimes it’s about who police decide are the criminals.