Interview with Mr. Rudolph Williams

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Table of Contents 
  •  VIRGINIA RAYMOND: Hi, Mr. Williams. This is Mr. Rudolph Williams. We are in your house today and you said I could call you Rudy. Today is Wednesday, July 20th. We are here at the home of Rudy Williams, here in Austin, Texas. In the room, is—besides Mr. Williams—there is Shane Cruz, behind the camera. And this voice that you hear, this disembodied voice is Virginia Raymond. We are here to do an interview with Mr. Williams for the Texas After Violence Project. And, we really appreciate you making time for us today. This is really—  
  •  RUDOLPH WILLIAMS: No problem.  
  •  RAYMOND: —Really great. I showed you, described our process to you, do you have any other questions?  
  •   WILLIAMS: No.  
  •  RAYMOND: Okay. So we, you know that we asked you to consent to the interview. That the risks as you pointed out, there’s always risks of speaking out. But I couldn’t think of any other risks to tell you about the interview process. But do you have any other questions?  
  •  WILLIAMS: No.  
  •  RAYMOND: Okay thank you, so Mr. Williams you sent out a letter. Well first—Actually before that, Mr. Williams can you tell us a little bit about yourself to start with?  
  •  WILLIAMS: Well my name is actually Rudolph Williams. I am a junior. So there is another Rudolph senior out there. And, I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. And during my youth in Houston, I saw a lot of police abuse. 
  •   I lived right behind the police station in a small neighborhood called First Ward and it was behind the main police station. The level of police use of excessive force, harassment and profiling was very high back in the 70s and 80s when I was growing up. And, so it’s always been an interest that I’ve had on how we can deal with these issues. The basic instructions that I was given as a child were that you keep your I.D. on you at all times, you always say “yes, sir,” “no, sir,” no more, no less and follow the commands of the officer.  
  •  So that kept me out of trouble through most of my childhood until I went to college and became a little bit more outspoken, which sometimes drew the attention of the police. And when I moved to Austin and settled down in this neighborhood, and I decided to work more in the community and I noticed that it had the same problems that my neighborhood had in Houston when I was growing up. So I decided to do whatever I could to alleviate and to reduce these instances of police abuse and excessive force and poor behavior.  
  •  RAYMOND: You mentioned that you were outspoken starting in college. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?  
  •  WILLIAMS: Well, I’m outspoken in general, I think my mom would tell you that. But as I grew into knowledge, I think that kind of shaped my attitude towards things that were going on, you know, at the national level, across the world. And in my neighborhoods, wherever I lived, I’ve always been told that if you move into a particular neighborhood, join a church, become a part of the neighborhood, don’t just sit there and do nothing. So I have tried to integrate that into my life.  
  •  And, wherever I’ve been, whatever schools I have been at, I have tried to do that. And when I came to UT that was in 1981 the Black students were working in a community to slow down the gentrification of the Blackland area by UT, so I joined in on that and then from there I have been working in the community ever since.  
  •   RAYMOND: Thank you. Well, I started to say, jumping in a little bit too early, on Friday, July 15th, just a few days ago, you sent a letter to the City of Austin and specifically to the City Council, and a lot of other powers that be, a lot of people in the community, about the history of police, APD, Austin Police Department, misconduct and specifically a whole series of deaths of young men, particularly Black men, although others as well. And, I wondered if you can tell us about that letter as well as what prompted it at this moment.  
  •  WILLIAMS: Well, I am going to start from the beginning. I became involved in, or fully involved, in trying to reduce the incidence of deaths, beatings, taserings and other behaviors by the Austin Police Department. [phone rings]  
  •  RAYMOND: Do you need to get that?  
  •  WILLIAMS: I can turn it off. Do you want me to turn it off?  
  •  RAYMOND: Or we can wait it out. [inaudible]  
  •  WILLIAMS: I do need to get that. [tape cuts]  
  •  RAYMOND: So 1981, the Blacklands…  
  •  WILLIAMS: Yeah, I started working in the community when I came here and was finishing my undergrad degree at UT trying to slow down the gentrification of Blackland. And like any endeavor where you’re fighting a powerful force, I didn’t feel we won. We got some agreements and some promises from UT But I think almost any fight that we have, if you are a community organizer or activist, you are usually up against overwhelming odds. 
  •   I started working with, or on, the issue of excessive force when Sophia King got shot. And she was shot in 2002. And, as I have said before, I have seen a lot of these problems in Houston before, and I’ve already known of other incidents here in Austin that occurred with force of Sophia King. But she was the one that tipped me towards working on this problem because—one, Sophia King is exemplary in many ways. She was mentally ill. I’ve worked with mentally ill people for most of my college life. So I know that one of the first responders to any incident in the community with a mentally ill person is going to be the police. And unfortunately, they are not trained to deal with mentally ill people. 
  •   So, nine times out of ten, that incident will result in that mentally ill person or another person being injured by the police or arrested by the police. I see a lot of mentally ill people ending up in jail and instead of in treatment, which, they end up in jail repeatedly. But in this particular case, Sophia King ended up getting shot, even though the police knew she was mentally ill. They had visited her earlier that day. She’s well known in the community. Everybody knew who she was. And so to me that was where I decided I was going to try to effect change in this area and started working in the community and communicating with police and City Council on ways we could alleviate this problem. 
  •   Now, about a year ago, I worked, I was, I’ve been the president of OCEAN [Organization of Central East Austin Neighborhoods], which is a five neighborhood organizations that covers Central to East Austin. And working with OCEAN, I started trying to get the police to come up with more objective stringent criteria for use of force. And also, I was president of Blackshear Neighborhood, that’s this neighborhood right here, for three years, and I continued that effort.  
  •   We wrote a resolution -- to the police chief, to the City Council, to all these people who have some control over the police and have some control over the criminal justice system—that they really need to come up with a better policy in terms of use of force. That what we had now was just so broad and so subjective, it allowed the police officer broad discretion to use force. And in many cases, that has been the first option instead of the last option.And that has caused to me, unnecessary death especially minorities, Blacks and Hispanics. 
  •   We’ve had, at last count, about twenty-three people who’ve died just by APD [Austin Police Department] hands since 1980. Of course the Sheriff’s Department at one time has had problems with, but they have seemed to alleviate or changed their polices to avoid the frequency of incidents they had. Also, TABC [Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission] for some reason, ended up shooting some people unnecessarily about three to six months ago.  
  •   So it’s not just APD, it can be any police action, but we’ve been focusing in the community on APD since they’ve had the most incidents. And they should be setting the example. And when I say “they,” I don’t just mean the police force because I think City Council has kind of just washed its hands of responsibility and allowed the police and the police chief a little too much of a free hand in how they handle these situations. And that includes the city manager and the district attorney has done absolutely nothing. So Austin is not unique in these types of police incidents.  
  •  You read about, you could read about it almost everyday if you just pull up something on the Internet and there’ll be a shooting in a town in a fairly large metropolitan area, under suspect circumstances where some kid or Black person was reaching for the wallet and got shot sixteen times or coming out of a night club and shot or running down the street and shot.  
  •   So it’s a problem throughout our country and it’s a problem that we have yet to proactively deal with here in Austin and other cities they have taken and made some changes and made some efforts to change their policies. But here in Austin, it’s been very difficult to get the city or the police department to look at themselves introspectively and to make the changes that are needed that will make the citizens feel like they are doing what we’re wanting them to do. That they are making sure that police use force in a manner that is consistent with preserving life instead of taking life. 
  •   So, that’s where I’ve been for the past, I would say since 2002 I have been working on this. And unfortunately, I would like to say that its gotten better but if it has gotten better, it hasn’t gotten better by much. So, we, as I’ve said before, I got all the neighborhoods – ANC, that’s Austin Neighborhoods Council; ANCE, that’s the eastern sector; OCEAN, that’s the organization I was president of; and individual neighborhoods—to sign on to a resolution saying “Hey we would like you to change your use of force policy.”  
  •   That was about a year ago. And then since then we’ve had five more shooting incidents where young men were shot in the back under very, what do you call them, suspicious circumstances. I hate to use ”suspicious,” that’s not the word I’m looking for but under circumstances where it appeared they did not have to be shot. And, I would say three of those incidents; they were shot in the back. So, they obviously weren’t trying to shoot somebody, or it seems like they were trying to get away from the police instead of have a confrontation with the police. 
  •   And in the only incidence where recently where the gun was pointed at the police, I mean or where it actually appeared that the police was endangered was the young man who was in the yogurt shop murder. And, he just happens to be white and he slashed a cop’s throat. Now I can understand that. But these other incidents where supposedly the kids were casing cars to steal and which was not confirmed or anything like that. But yet, they ended up getting shot.  
  •  Or the kids in Big Lots who were robbing the store and one of them had a gun but didn’t shoot at anybody or anything like that but he ended up getting shot in the back. So it seems like there is a, how do I say it, when it comes to minorities in the city of Austin and in other cities also, the likelihood of you getting shot, or killed, or beaten, or tased by a police officer is higher than if you were of the majority race. And, I don’t have an explanation for that but I do think that if we have policies in place that limits and requires the police to have a graduated process before they can use lethal force. Than maybe, just maybe, some of these lives can be saved. 
  •  RAYMOND: So thank you for that. A really useful summary of where you’ve been. I want to get a little more specific about these policy changes and you mentioned the graduated policy, of the graduated steps before you pull a gun on somebody. The other one that you mentioned in your letter but not yet in this interview has to do with the standard. I wonder if you can talk about either of those issues, whichever one you want to go first.  
  •  WILLIAMS: Well the standard right now is called the “Reasonable Officer Standard.” And it is a standard that is blessed by the Supreme Court. And under the Reasonable Officer Standard, if the officer reasonably believes that theirs or the lives of others is endangered, then they can use lethal force. Also, the assessment post shooting is that is this what an objective police officer would do under these circumstances?  
  •   Now, the City of Austin policy is called the “Response to Resistance Policy” and it’s not very long. It’s about two pages, maybe two pages long, the part that has to do with actually shooting someone or using force against someone. So it’s a very easy read. But what it also is, is a very broad allowance in terms of use of force because it relies on the officer to make these very snap decisions with little or no guidance. And then it goes on to say, now you should consider these things, but it does not mandate that you go through a graduated process. 
  •   So, like in Nathaniel Sanders, where he was sleeping in a car and the other young man, Sir Smith was sleeping in the car. And Nathaniel Sanders supposedly had a gun on him. The officer goes into the car, while these two people are sleeping and supposedly, tries to pull the gun out of his waist, or out of his hand or wherever it was supposed to be. The officer says, he says Nathaniel Sanders wakes up and appears to go for the gun.  
  •  So he immediately yells “gun, gun, gun” and shoots him again. Now, what we know is that Nathaniel Sanders was shot several times in the back and what we also know is that there are no fingerprints on the gun indicating that Nathaniel Sanders ever reached for the gun. And what we know, is that the police officer went into this car where there were two young sleeping men.  
  •   Now, if they had reports of somebody shooting a gun off during the night sometime and they thought these were the two suspects, under a graduated response, they could have said, you know, called in for backup, put them on the speaker and said “All right gentlemen come out of the car with your hands up. If you have any weapons, leave them in the car,” and then see what happens. But that is not what occurred. Even the police chief said, “Well, I wouldn’t have done it like that but I can’t question the cop.” Now if the police chief says, “I wouldn’t have done it like that” that indicates that something was not done in a way that protected the citizen and the police officer. In other words, he endangered himself by going into that car and trying to take a gun from a sleeping individual.  
  •  And this has occurred again and again, almost each time we have these incidences, the occurrences in such that an officer feels that their life is endangered or that their life was endangered. And a graduated response mechanism policy procedure—I think it would help them by providing guidance reducing the split second requirements of deciding to use force. If a young man is running, it used to be, Police Chief Kathy Bonds in Houston once said “If a young man is running away from the cops, you can shoot him in the back.”  
  •  Now somewhere down the road I think somebody said, “No you can’t do that.” But it still appears to be happening. So if there is a graduated response, maybe the young man who is running away from the cops and supposedly had a gun, they would not have ended up with a young man dead in the back fence somewhere. They could have called more people, once again, especially if the young man had presented no danger to anybody, even let him go. We’ll catch him later. 
  •   You know, we do that on police chase. Supposedly we are not supposed to have high-speed police chases because they endanger the public. And, in many of these incidences, like Jesse Owens trying to drive off in his car with two young men trying to drive off recently, and it ended up where deadly force was used almost immediately with no gradual response.  
  •  So that is, to me, the fault or the weakness in our current policy, is that it allows you to go to deadly force almost immediately with no real efforts to de-escalate, to come up with other alternatives, to think through this particular process before you take, use deadly force or any of those things it doesn’t require. So the police chief or even some police say “well they need that type of flexibility.” I don’t think so, there’s been in not one of these incidences, except for when the two white guys was concerned, does it appear that the police were in danger. So if the police aren’t in danger but they fear that they could be in danger, then that’s two different things.  
  •  And something in between there has to be the policy that will guide them and alleviate the so-called fear factor or reduce it and at the same time create an environment where mechanisms can be used to disarm, to reduce the possibility of and bring that particular situation to a peaceful resolution. So to me, that’s what our problem is. It’s not necessarily one bad apple or two bad apples. It can be any police officer in a situation where they have to make a decision and they choose to use a gun as their first choice. 
  •   And so I try not to demonize any individuals or police chiefs or even city leadership because this problem has been with us for a long time. This is not anything new. It’s been going on since Reconstruction, since slaves were freed. And it has to do with, and I have no better way of saying it, it has to do with what the police have been charged to do over the years. And over the years, they’ve been charged to control that unruly population.  
  •  And their perception of police, in general, and not all of them, but the perception of many of our police forces is those unruly people just happen to be the Blacks and Hispanics in the tough part of town. So the East side gets an inordinate amount of police-related shootings. And to overcome that historical problem, we have to have polices in place just the same way we have to have laws that require people to respect voting rights and have laws the require people to say you can not discriminate against people who want to use your restrooms or want to go to your restaurant. So, it is nothing more than a furtherance of our civil rights and supporting our constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.  
  •  RAYMOND: Beautiful. Thank you. Thank you for explaining that. I want to—you also mentioned and I want to ask about the relationship between another term that you use in your letter to City Council and everybody else which is asking for a “preservation of life standard” rather than this “reasonable officer standard.” And can you tell us what is the relationship between the “preservation of life standard” and this graduated steps that you have described?  
  •  WILLIAMS: Well, the “preservation of life standard” is supposedly the stricter of the policies as it relates to use of force. It requires that you consider all other options first before you use deadly force. It requires a graduated response, it requires that you consider that you take the life of the, of the person as paramount. In other words, that you are going to do all things possible to preserve life whether that person is a criminal, whether that person is in the act of committing a crime or whether you just think that person is a bad guy or whatever. 
  •   You’re going to try to preserve life first. And I think what that does is it flips the perspective of a police officer in that instead the perspective being “I’ve got to protect my life first” than the perspective being “I’ve got to protect this citizen’s life first” –even though he may be a bad guy. And generally speaking, in that particular environment, it may seem like you are endangering the police officer but I do not agree with that, especially given the instances that we’ve had here in Austin, I think that it will only change the outcomes of these use-of-force incidents. And it would maybe, just maybe, change some of the attitudes of fear that police officers have when they come into a minority neighborhood.  
  •  RAYMOND: Okay, let’s take apart both parts of that. This is so important that I want to be absolutely crystal clear. So in your view, under a reasonable officer fear, officer of whatever background, whatever ethnicity, gender, etc. sees a young man perhaps Latino or Black young man, and that person is perhaps believed to have a gun, maybe something that looks like a gun and is running away. Under that scenario, what would you expect to happen under the “reasonable officer standard?” 
  •   WILLIAMS: Well, under “reasonable officer standard,” I believe Daniel Rocha attempted to flee; he was wrestling with the officer trying to get away from the officer. The other officer, I don’t remember her name, lost her taser and she thought Daniel Rocha got it and she shot him in the back. Jesse Lee Owens, he was attempted to flee in his car, officer shot him six times, supposedly he thought a wallet or something that Jesse Owens had was a gun.  
  •   This also happened to the young man who was at the nightclub, I think, let me see what his name was, Kevin Brown that was the young man in the after-hours nightclub, or outside the after-hours nightclub supposedly had a gun on him. They called the cops, cop shows up, Kevin Brown starts running, next thing you know, he’s dead. So under the “reasonable officer standard,” in each one of those, I believe that whether the officer believed they feared for their life or not, that is the reason that they used.  
  •   Now under a “preservation of life” standard, if they’re going to put the life of the suspect at—that we’re going to try to preserve this person’s life versus than kill that person, then you have to approach that car differently that Jesse Owens was in, you don’t reach in and start grabbing the keys and doing other weird stuff. You don’t reach into the car where Nathaniel Sanders is and especially if you think there may be a gun in there and grab the gun and—or try to reach for the gun and all of a sudden shoot that person. 
  •   Or like the two young men, just recently, I believe one was, what was his name, I think it was Byron Carter, he was the sixteen-year old who was shot in the back while the driver was attempting to drive off. I just think you would have a different outcome or the penalty for not using a graduated response, not using tactics that would preserve life, those would allow a grand jury to look at that and say, “Hey, well you didn’t follow policy and it ended up with somebody being dead. So therefore, you’re going to have to be punished for it.” 
  •   Like now, under “reasonable officer standard” almost anything goes, so therefore you will not be prosecuted because the policy is so broad it will allow for you to shoot that person almost under any circumstances. So I think that it would tighten up the rules, it would protect the officer as well as the citizen, it will allow for prosecution for gross negligence or for negligence under the rules, and just maybe reduce the number of incidents that occur. 
  •  RAYMOND: So, just to, that was very clear and thank you. But just to sort of be absolutely clear about what you then are asking city council to do. The “preservation of life standard” replacing the “reasonable officer standard” and the “preservation of life standard” would necessarily include a set of graduated steps before an officer uses lethal force.  
  •  WILLIAMS: That is correct.  
  •  RAYMOND: Okay.  
  •  WILLIAMS: And, I’m just a citizen. I’m a citizen who’s done a little bit more research than your average citizen. But it really should not be up to the citizen to find the best solutions to these problems. That’s what we elect our representatives for, that’s what we hire our city manager for, that is the responsibility of the police chief, that is the responsibility of the police monitor.  
  •  So sometimes—I just find it very, what’s the word?—I find it very odd that an individual citizen is supposed to come up with the solutions to the problems that we face. But unfortunately, that’s the way it is, because if you talk to the police chief he’ll say, Everything is fine. We’re doing a better job. We don’t need to change our policy. If you talk to the police monitor, they’ll say, Well they follow the rules so there is nothing we can do about it. If you talk to the City Council, they’ll say, Well we’ll look at it, or We might look at it, or they may not say anything. They may not even respond to you.  
  •   So that is the problem that we had, and that is why working through neighborhood groups, we’ve just been putting pressure on our elected officials, and on our bureaucratic structures including the D.A.’s office and the monitor and all these guys to do their jobs! And, you can figure out the possible, you can do the research by going to other police, what do you call them, police departments that have tighter policies but I do not see that inclination to make that effort.  
  •  RAYMOND: So, you’ve provided me with an intro to my next question, which is that you said earlier in the interview that we have seen, or you have seen, some improvement in the Travis County Sheriff’s Department and in certain other cities. And I wonder if you can talk about where those places are and what has changed.  
  •   WILLIAMS: Well, I know that Houston used to be very bad. I grew up there. So Houston changed their use-of-force policy. They also fired a bunch of police officers. And, this is when Kathy Whitmire and Lee Brown basically—Kathy Whitmire was mayor and Lee Brown was the police chief—and then Lee Brown became the mayor. So during that time frame, the Houston Police Department changed drastically in terms of hiring, in terms of change in the use of force policy, in terms of firing police officers who were just would not follow guidelines.  
  •  And that doesn’t make them angels, they still had major problems. As a matter of fact, Harris County has one of the highest rates of sending people to Death Row and we know that that particular system is flawed. So, there’s a lot of work to be done in all these cities as it pertains to the freedoms that Americans should be enjoying, especially minorities. But, as I’ve said before, you’re also trying to overcome 200 or 300 years of systematic racism. There is no other way to say it.  
  •   And, it does not necessarily mean that police officers are racist but the outcomes of their behaviors affect Blacks and Hispanics higher. Those outcomes can be anything from shootings to beatings to taserings to just profiling. And until that particular historical problem is dealt with, you’re gonna always have problems. And this is just one area that needs to be dealt with. There are more areas within our legal system alone that, that this is a problem where it affects minorities at a much higher rate than it affects the majority of the population. But it also happens to be that area that it’s most disturbing because it is extrajudicial killing. Death penalty where a lot of people on Death Row, and don’t necessarily supposed to be there, that’s judicial killing. But when you’re killed just out on the street because somebody is afraid of you, that’s almost borderline lynching.  
  •  RAYMOND: And the outcomes of DA actions and failure to prosecute in some of these cases, seems to suggest that a “reasonable officer” and I am putting that in quotes, but a “reasonable officer” would—does—do—“reasonable officers” do fear Black men, especially young Black men, under certain circumstances even when they are running away.  
  •  WILLIAMS: Correct.  
  •  RAYMOND: I wonder if you could talk about that fear and the perception, or really even the judicially stamped or you know, sometimes the police department stamped approval of that fact. You know if that’s just the way it is that a “reasonable officer” would fear a Black man or sometimes even a Latino man even if he is running away.  
  •  WILLIAMS: Well, I don’t know if they fear them, but that is the reason given. And that is the reason that’s allowed under the law that will get you no-billed with a grand jury. If you reasonably feel that that person is a danger to others or yourself, than you can use force. So that’s when that particular excuse is used a lot. I don’t know if they really fear them. I do think that going into a Black neighborhood, sometimes, yes an officer does fear the people that they encounter. In other incidences, I think it is just an excuse for the use of force first versus using other means. I would, I would hope that it’s not an excuse most of the time. But, to tell you the truth whether it’s an excuse or whether it’s actual fear, the end result is that you have a dead person.  
  •  RAYMOND: That’s right, and you have, and I don’t know which would be worse. The fact that so many reasonable officers do fear even sleeping Black men—  
  •  WILLIAMS: Yeah  
  •  RAYMOND: —that it’s a real fear or that it’s an excuse. Both seem, both seem pretty sad state of affairs—  
  •  WILLIAMS: Correct.  
  •  RAYMOND: —even if the result was not death.  
  •   WILLIAMS: Correct.  
  •  RAYMOND: They both seem pretty, pretty sad statements.  
  •  WILLIAMS: They are sad statements. 
  •   RAYMOND: To—  
  •  WILLIAMS: And, I was going to tell you something about the legal process. It seems to me that our legal process is, and as I’ve said before, the policy is such that it allows for, and so the legal process seems like the no-bill is just a formality. And so I’m really disturbed by that particular part of it also. In that you almost know what’s going to happen regardless of how the egregious the act is because of the way the policy is and the way traditionally how our grand jury system is set up. The prosecutor really controls the grand jury and feeds them the information they want and solicits the outcome they want. 
  •   So, I think there’s a critical problem there also. I think the third critical problem is the hiring practices of our police force. We’ve always had a problem with minority hiring in our fire departments and in our police force. So this is across the nation but it’s also here in Austin, Texas. And we hire a lot of policemen that have never grown up in the community. We hire a lot of policemen that, who basically, they’re not minorities. So they don’t have a perspective to work with. 
  •   I think the problem with police officers being hired and police chiefs and police other police being hired outside of the city when we have people who have been in the community and police officers also for years but cannot be promoted to chief, we have this—I don’t, I think it’s a corporate attitude that we have to hire, we have to do a nationwide search for a police chief or police, or fire chief so we’ll get “the best.” But we end up with is people that have no clue about what’s going on in the community, and they are basing many of their decisions and assumptions based upon the experiences that they’ve had in other cities and not based upon what’s going on this particular time. 
  •   I think we’ve had several candidates for police chiefs who came up through the police force but yet they were not considered to be police chief material. And I find that to be a sad statement of the lack of faith and trust that you have in your police force as professionals and as people who have worked through barriers to get to where they are to reach these higher levels but yet can’t be a police chief because you have to go outside.  
  •   And as far as minority hiring, of course as most Southern cities, that’s always a problem. It’s a good ol’ boy system that has been able to inoculate itself from minority hiring practices and if we could recruit in our schools, in the city, and offer incentives for our police officers to stay in the communities instead of commute from Pflugerville or Round Rock or wherever. Then I think you would have a more connected police force that is connected to the community, that has a stake in the community, that knows the young men in the community. There’s only a few Black and Hispanic police officers that I know of who are actually—I think generally speaking, they may be more from the city than the white officers, percentage-wise, but…  
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Title:Interview with Mr. Rudolph Williams
Abstract:Rudolph Williams is a community activist against police brutality in Austin Texas. In Video 1, he talks about growing up in a community where he witnessed a lot of tension and brutality with the Police Department. He began community organizing when he joined the fight against gentrification of the Blacklands at UT Austin while he was in college. He talks about Sophia King and the problems that arise when mentally ill citizens come in contact with police. He talked about working with neighborhood associations across Austin to advocate for a change in APD’s use of force policy. He also talks about his hope that the APD moves away from the “reasonable officer standard” to the “preservation of life standard” which he believes would save the lives of many minority victims of police shootings. In Video 2, he discusses problems with recruiting police officers from the outside. He then discusses a personal incident in which a police officer pulled him over and accused him of drinking and smoking marijuana and put him in handcuffs for not turning on his car lights in time. He then discusses Houston’s push for a more diverse police force and how he sees their efforts as relatively successful. He goes on to discuss the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and how their leadership has helped them be a more open-minded law enforcement agency. He discusses the leadership of the APD and the Sheriff’s department. He discusses regional policing and the different tactics employed in East and West Austin and differences in cities such as Houston and Dallas. He talks about how the burden to come up with solutions to police problems seems to lie on the citizens, not political officials. He discusses the “short-term memory elected officials and bureaucrats” and the “long-term memory of the community” and how to reconcile that. He talks about despair and refusal to take responsibility. He also talks about community police relations. He concludes by expanding on other problems he sees with police community relations including charging fees and criminalizing poverty. In Video 3, he talks briefly about his mom and what fighting for freedom looks like and means. This interview took place on July 20, 2011 at Rudolph Williams’ home in Austin, Travis County, Texas.
Sequence:1 of 3
  • Rudolph WilliamsRole: Narrator
  • Texas After Violence ProjectRole: Collaborator
  • Virginia RaymondRole: Interviewer
  • Shane CruzRole: Videographer
  • Tia LeoneRole: Transcriber
  • Ilana SmirinRole: Transcriber
  • Virginia RaymondRole: Proofreader
Date Created:2011/07/20
Geographic Focus:North America--United States--Texas
Geographic Base:North America--United States--Texas--Austin
Type of Resource:Moving image

    Source Metadata

    Analog/Digital Flag:physDigital
    Carrier Number:1 of 2
    Signal Format:NTSC



    Continues with Video 2 of the TAVP Interview with Mr. Rudolph Williams

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