1. Say what you will about the "defund" message, but there's more activity going on around the state regarding police reform, not to mention more bills filed on the topic at the Texas Legislature, than at any time this century. None of it would be happening if it weren't for the protests this summer. It's easy to forget that this time two years ago, the reform movement was more or less dead in the water.
2. On top of COVID and everything else, 2020 has been a grim year for Texas country music fans: Charley Pride, Billy Joe Shaver, Hal Ketchum, Doug Supernaw, Roy Head, Johnny Bush, Jerry Jeff Walker, Justin Townes Earle (Steve Earle's son) ... the number of Texas musical heroes we've lost this year is rapidly mounting. Tack on John Prine, like Charley Pride, a COVID victim, and these are among the folks who wrote the soundtrack for my entire life. Grits took the news of Shaver and Pride's deaths especially hard. (I knew all the lyrics to "Georgia on a Fast Train" and "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" by age nine or 10.) Each new one feels a bit like a body blow. The one bright spot has been Willie Nelson and Karen O putting out an amazing version of "Under Pressure." I've probably listened to it 50 times.
3. Newspapers and TV outlets should ditch their crime beats as we know them today. Here are two reporters at Nieman Labs making the argument why. Grits in the past has suggested eliminating all pre-adjudication coverage and still think that's worth considering. But even I hadn't made the case quite this strongly. Their column opens:
Let’s be honest: Crime coverage is terrible.
It’s racist, classist, fear-based clickbait masking as journalism. It creates lasting harm for the communities that newsrooms are supposed to serve. And because it so rarely meets the public’s needs, it’s almost never newsworthy, despite what Grizzled Gary in his coffee-stained shirt says from his perch at the copy desk.
5. On Twitter, a New York City defense attorney marveled at how many clients he was seeing arrested for carrying swords. Grits replied, "Texas straight up legalized carrying swords. But it hasn't really caught on bc they also legalized carrying AR-15s, so folks just do that."
And finally, a minor boast: The Austin Chronicle recently published a short profile of Grits' better half, giving her credit for her work on local policing issues. Give it a read, I'm super proud of her.