Workers Defense Project files complaint against Austin police after office raid

by | Nov 19, 2021 | Austin, News

The Workers Defense Project, a labor group for immigrants and construction workers, has filed a complaint against Austin police after their office was raided last week

The Austin Police Department was searching for security footage of an alleged assault attempt that occurred in the non-profit’s parking lot. 

Workers Defense Project says Austin police obtained the warrant under false pretenses that lead to the “egregious raid” on Nov. 10.

Officers initially reached out by email to request the video, and communication with the department over the matter was going well until five police officers suddenly entered the workplace said Hannah Alexander, staff attorney for the labor advocacy group. 

“We were never served a subpoena, we really were surprised,” Alexander said, adding that Workers Defense Project has an internal policy to not voluntarily cooperate with police since Workers Defense works closely with immigrants and communities of color, groups she said Austin police have traditionally harassed and targeted in the past. 

“Because we never got a subpoena, we were under no legal obligation to turn over any of the footage they wanted, but had they done so we would have,” Alexander said. 

When police raided the office, they took recording equipment that contained weeks of video footage of people coming and going from their office. 

In response, Workers Defense has filed a complaint with Austin’s Office of Police Oversight, which they hope will lead to accountability and an investigation into what happened. 

Alexander said the raid terrified two staffers who were in the office at the time, which happened to be closed at the time. 

“We’ve heard that they’re interested in community policing and reimagining public safety, but this certainly doesn’t look like it to me,” Alexander said. 

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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