Mark your Calendars! Austin School Board Runoff Election is DECEMBER 15, 2020. MAKE SURE YOU VOTE! More information HERE.
You may have heard Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s dubious claims that Austin is becoming “one of the most dangerous cities in America.” His remarks are part of a cynical Republican strategy to sow fear and shift conversations about policing away from racial justice.
Here are three ways to intervene when you hear friends and family members repeat misinformation about rising crime in Austin:
1. Do the math
In the first six months of 2020, homicides in Austin rose to 23, compared to 14 over the same time frame in 2019 and 18 in 2018. Fear-mongers frame the 2020 numbers as a 64% increase in murders, neglecting to mention that small raw numbers mean that even a minor increase will show up as a large percentage of the original.
2. Check the time
Gov. Greg Abbott and others are using crime statistics published in June 2020 to claim that protests over police violence and resulting changes to the city’s police budget have led to more crime. However, the city council did not vote to reallocate APD funds until August, and the new fiscal year did not begin until October 2020–which means that any budget changes happened well after the crime statistics these charlatans are spreading.
3. Say no to spurious correlations
For the foreseeable future, opponents of racial justice will continue to cite fluctuations in crime stats as evidence that protests against police violence actually cause more crime. It’s helpful to remember that correlation does not equal causation. It’s too soon to draw conclusions about crime trends for 2020–but even if we did see an upswing, there would doubtless be multiple factors–from unemployment and poverty to the stress of sheltering in place.
We have work to do in our ongoing fight for Black Lives and racial justice. Share your de-bunking stories with us on Twitter, Instagram, or our moderated Facebook Group.
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District 5 for Black Lives Organizing Team