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Enter at Your Own Risk: Austin Billboards Warn of Defunded Police

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‘Warning! Austin Police Defunded! Enter At Your Own Risk’ is the statement displayed on billboards in Austin, Texas. The Austin billboards were put up by the Texas Municipal Police association after the city defunded the police department by $150 million. The Austin billboards are placed at the city’s north and south entrances to warn incoming motorists of Austin’s recent decision to defund the police department. The statement is followed by the hashtag #backtheblue as well as the website, where the public can go online and support “The Voice of Texas Law Enforcement.”

Protestors have been calling for the defunding of the police in Austin since July 26. Demonstrators gathered as early as June in the wake of the death of George Floyd. The $150 million to be cut from the budget will be redirected toward social services which include abortion access. In response to the protests, Gov. Greg Abbott recommended putting the Texas Department of Public Safety in charge of the police department. According to Fox 26 Houston, Abbott went on to say cities that defund their police will have their current level property tax frozen.

Photo: Twitter/@Dan Patrick

Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General, warned the public that the targets of this defunding plan would be the brave police officers who risk their lives for the safety of the city. Paxton also highlighted that keeping violence, crime, and homelessness low has been a struggle for Austin in the past. City Mayor Steve Adler defended the city council’s decision for the defunding. According to Adler stated that Austin’s decision reflected the wishes of the city’s residents, and that out of all the big cities in Texas, Austin is the safest.

According to the Austin Justice Coalition, the city’s crimes have declined 4.1 percent in early 2020 as opposed to 2019. However, from a report in the Wall Street Journal, during the pandemic, Austin has had the biggest nationwide increase in homicides. The city argued the increase was nominal and that violent crimes in Austin remain low. No one knows what will come from the city with the defunded police department, but the Austin billboards have made sure that the public is thoroughly warned.