The impact of Chief Acevedo’s departure on race relations

Austin Justice Coalition protest, August 2016
Austin Justice Coalition protest, August 2016 (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After learning of Chief Art Acevedo’s departure from Austin, activists and grassroots organizations who’ve been working with him to address racial issues in the city, are left wondering if the next chief will continue that work.

“I think a lot of the local organizations were hurt and sad to see him go,” said Alan-Michael Johnson, with the Austin Justice Coalition. “We need a police chief that will be able to recognize that we all have innate biases in us and we treat people who don’t look like us differently.”

Johnson says Chief Acevedo worked closely with the organization, even doing ‘Response to Resistance’ training with them.

While the chief laid the groundwork for progress, Johnson says it’s by no means finished. “He has good reactions, but we need accountability. Chief Acevedo in my opinion has the right heart, he uses the right words, but we need to see things translated on paper.”

Johnson says he hopes to hear strong statements from the future chief on several issues. “I would like to see a police chief that says we’re not going to aggressively go after the children in our community.”

Johnson also wants the new chief to protect the immigrant community, working to ensure families won’t be torn apart. Many other community members say they’re disappointed he’s leaving.

Lawrence ‘Lench’ Martinez, a barber at the Austin’s Most Wanted Barbershop, remembers when Chief Acevedo came to town. “I’m a Chicano and very happy that somebody from my background is able to hold a job that powerful.”

Martinez believes Chief Acevedo set the bar for being accessible to the community and listening to what they’re going through.

“He can’t control every single officer, there’s going to be bad apples no matter what you do, but I think he’s done a tremendous job if you ask me,” said Martinez.

He says whoever the next chief is, they’ll have big shoes to fill. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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