Organizers and lawyer call ODA indictments little justice

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Proponents of systemic change in policing in Austin say the indictments against 19 Austin police officers are just one step toward that change.

AUSTIN, Texas — Twenty months after the 2020 protests amplified voices for systemic change in public safety, 19 Austin Police Department officers were indicted Thursday on charges related to how protests were handled.

“It seems there is some accountability going on, at least initially,” said Scott Hendler, an attorney representing four protesters shot with less lethal bullets used by the APD. “It will remain to be seen whether juries find them guilty and hold them accountable, but it is certain that a number of officers used excessive force against peaceful protesters and really should be brought to justice.”

Hendler doesn’t know if any of the officers his clients have filed civil lawsuits against have been criminally charged, but adds that the indictments may send different messages to people.

“It’s a matter of interpretation,” Hendler said. “The district attorney isn’t shy about holding the police accountable.”

Part of the reason protests erupted in 2020 after the deaths of Michael Ramos and George Floyd was to hold law enforcement accountable for workplace actions. Austin Justice Coalition helped organize some of the marches almost two years ago. The organization’s director, Joao Paolo Connolly, said Thursday’s indictments are just the tip of the iceberg.

“For the people who will continue to suffer, you know, the disabilities or the consequences caused by these acts of police brutality and violence, this is not yet a time to celebrate,” Connolly said. “It’s just a sober reminder that we still have a lot of work to do.”

However, Connolly added that it was the beginning of justice.

“Now that we’re approaching the second anniversary of this, I mean, it’s heartwarming to see some justice being done,” Connolly said.

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