Activists in Austin, Texas have submitted signatures to city officials seeking to add a ballot initiative to decriminalize cannabis in the city and ban no-knock police warrants, Fox 7 Austin reports. Ken Casaday, president of the Austin Police Association, said that since a city ordinance last year changed how police enforce cannabis laws, he doesn’t “really see the point” of the cannabis proposal as Austin police “don’t arrest for low amounts of marijuana.”
Mike Siegel, political director of Ground Game Texas, which is backing the campaign, said the initiative would codify the city’s “current informal policy.”
“These are two measures that have been very popular with voters but have not yet become city law.” — Seigel to Fox 7
Seigel added the city officials have asked Austin police to end the use of no-knock raids, but the group wants to see the policy “formally” put into law.
“We want to avoid unnecessary injury to residents and officers themselves,” he said.
Casaday indicated that the force has “done three or four” in the city this year, adding that the action is “usually saved for very violent individuals or people that have barricaded their homes.”
The practice came under increased scrutiny last year after Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, was shot and killed during a no-knock raid in her Louisville, Kentucky apartment. Her boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, was the target of that raid. He was sentenced Tuesday on a drug-related charge, WAVE 3 reports. Investigators believed Glover was using Taylor’s apartment to sell drugs and conducted a no-knock raid. The Federal Bureau of Investigation still has an open case on the circumstances surrounding Taylor’s death.
Siegel said that the group will submit more than 34,000 signatures to the city clerk, of which 22,000 have been pre-validated. At least 20,000 valid signatures are required to be certified for the ballot.
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