Case Counts/Testing in Texas – As of Sunday, June 7th (3:30 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 1,255,899
Confirmed Cases – 74,978
Active Cases – 23,390
Hospitalizations – 1,878
Fatalities – 1,830
Recovered Cases – 49,758
Activists Call for Defunding of Police Department BudgetsAs protests continue across the state and country, conversations are happening about how to actually effect change, so deaths like George Floyd’s do not happen again. Yesterday, 10,000 Austinites gathered at the Historically Black University, Huston Tilloston to march together to the Capitol. Protestors have gathered for 10 straight days in downtown Austin.
Activists are calling for cutting police budgets, a goal that could be gaining popularity as cities face budget shortfalls due to the coronavirus pandemic. A key demand from protesters everywhere is accountability. There are growing calls now across the country for local leaders to cut spending on police departments as a reform measure. Policing takes up more than third of the budget for several major cities in Texas. For years, criminal justice advocates have pushed city and state and governments to scale back on law enforcement budgets.While some law enforcement leaders agree there should be increased funding toward issues like mental health, they warn broad divestments from police departments could lead to more overtime and an overall public safety risk.
In Austin and in Dallas, there are public calls for the resignations of the police chiefs. Requests in both cities are based on accounts that the departments in the two cities have used violent tactics on protestors such as tear gas or non lethal ammunition. In Austin, four members of the City Council have publicly said they have lost faith in Police Chief Brian Manley.
Leaders of Texas cities will soon engage in budget talks and eventually consider tradeoffs as multiple crises cross over. The City of Austin City Council will gather on June 11th to vote on Resolutions 95 and 96 to move toward defunding APD positions and restrict the use of militarized weapons. In the meantime, protesters plan to continue to peacefully demonstrate.
Texas Democrats Break Fundraising Records at Virtual ConventionThe Texas Democratic Party raised nearly $2 million during its week-long virtual convention, breaking the party’s digital daily and monthly fundraising record during the event. About $1.5 million of that money came from grassroots donations, the party said. The remainder came in corporate sponsorships.The haul has energized Democrats about their chances in the November elections. After COVID-19 forced the party into a virtual convention, some questioned whether a digital event could create the same energy as an in-person convention with thousands of supporters, but the huge fundraising numbers have wiped away any concerns that a digital convention would not be productive.On Monday, the party broke its single day record for online fundraising with $50,000. Two days later, they broke their monthly fundraising record with $180,000 in one day. Friday, the party upped that to $283,000 and a day later it received half a million dollars.Money wasn’t the only measure of success, he said. The party also trained 3,400 deputy voter registrars and got more than 100,000 viewers on their virtual convention on multiple days. While personal appearances in front of the faithful were absent, the party claims to have the energy it was looking for with spurred by virtual appearances by the party’s presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Kamala Harris.
Royce West and MJ Hegar Debate RecapThe two remaining Democrats vying for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas called for comprehensive reforms to address police brutality and racial inequality in a debate Saturday that featured little disagreement on the issues and in which both candidates focused their attacks on Republican incumbent John Cornyn.The hourlong debate between retired Air Force pilot MJ Hegar and state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, focused heavily on recent protests that have rocked the country after the death of George Floyd, a black man killed recently in Minneapolis police custody.Hegar, who finished first in the 12-way Democratic Senate primary in March, and West, a longtime state senator from Dallas who came in second, both said they support the police reform organization Campaign Zero and listed criminal justice reforms they’d like to see. Both also denounced the looting that has taken place alongside some protests across the state.West, drawing on his experience in the state Senate, touted his work passing legislation supporting body cameras for police, which he said have proven to be “one of the most-used tools in terms of showing people exactly what injustice looks like in this country.”The two also weighed in similarly on the coronavirus pandemic, with both voicing concerns that the state was opening too quickly without the proper amount of testing to ensure that there is not a second spike in the number of cases.In fact, Hegar and West were united on essentially all the issues. Both avoided direct confrontation with the other, opting instead to tout their own experiences and save their ire for Cornyn.Throughout the race, West has touted his endorsements, including support from most Democrats at the Texas Legislature. Hegar, who in 2018 lost a bid to unseat U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, has meanwhile secured an endorsement from the powerful Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and raised the most money.Hegar ended the latest fundraising period, which went through the end of March, with $1.1 million cash on hand, while West finished with roughly $121,000. Cornyn has a massive advantage over both with nearly $13 million in the bank.During the debate, Cornyn’s campaign casted both Hegar and West as Democrats who “went off the Far Left deepend” who “were pandering to out-of-touch Hollywood & Coastal Elite donors.” That contrast, Cornyn’s team argued, “is exactly why Texans will vote to keep Senator Cornyn in November.”The debate, moderated by The Dallas Morning News’ Gromer Jeffers and KXAN’s Sally Hernandez and Robert Hadlock, marked the final event of the Texas Democratic Party’s convention, which was held online this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.