HOUSTON - The day after George Floyd was laid to rest in his hometown, Houston’s City Council decided against a slate of immediate policing reforms proposed by Council Member Letitia Plummer.
“My heart is a little sad today because I believe people have spoken. I don’t know how much louder we can become across the world,” said Plummer.
“I can’t say it’s the wrong message. I don’t think it’s the message of the people. I think the people wanted immediate action,” she added.
Plummer’s proposals included funding for a police oversight committee manned by civilians armed with subpoena power and rapid response crisis intervention teams staffed by social workers and mental health responders, a program patterned after and effort in Eugene, Oregon known as CAHOOTS.
But Mayor Sylvester Turner led an overwhelming council majority which favored a wait and see approach with study and extensive public input.
Councilmember Mike Knox, a conservative and former police officer, went much further.
“If we are going to do this, we are going to politicize every single police activity. The board will be able to establish punishment and discipline, in fact, we probably ought to remove the office of chief of police because the chief of police position is to manage and discipline the troops,” said Knox.
Meantime, outside City Hall, a few hundred protesters demanding rapid change would on this day, leave the seat of Houston government deeply disappointed in both Mayor and Council.
“They aren’t listening to us. They don’t care. They are doing whatever it is that benefits them. You can’t pause a meeting for five minutes and address the citizens of Houston on something that has us enraged?” said Daria Savannah, a protester and member of People of Peace.
“I want (Turner) to know how long he going to wait and study when we start setting sh--t on fire. He no longer listens to the people,” said Justin James Jones, leader of People of Peace.
In the wake of Floyd’s death Mayor Turner announced the formation of a Police Reform Task Force to assess all proposals – a process that will extend into September.