Chaos as the town hall encampment is cleared by the police: sweeping the square – News
DPA agents remove tents from people who are not housed around Town Hall on Monday, June 14, before the next sidewalk construction (Photo by John Anderson)
A chaotic scene unfolded outside of Town hall Monday morning June 14, as police and other city workers – citing sidewalk construction to come – cleaned up the camp who had emerged there to protest voter approval Proposal B, which reinstates criminal penalties for camping in public spaces. City officials later said the scene was “very different” from what is expected in other places where those who live homeless are camped.
Some camp residents told the the Chronicle that the officers gave verbal notice on Saturday June 12; others said it was only on Sunday that they were told that if they did not move their things by 10 p.m. that evening, they could be arrested. None have seen a written notice. “Apparently they’re doing construction and they need everyone to move here,” said one person camping at town hall, Smoky quartz, tell us. “They told us they have to move and are now threatening to arrest this man who is homeless and sleeping on the sidewalk.”
On Friday evening, management announced the planned clearance, giving DPA and agencies that could help the homeless little time to prepare a safe enforcement plan.
It took over an hour before officials could produce the documents documenting the construction project for Quartz. During this time, the officers and workers began to dismantle the tents and even throw them away. Finally, the purple bins provided by the Downtown Austin Community Court arrived for temporary storage, and some at the camp helped move the belongings of those who were not present. Planned construction appears to be work along the curb, ramp and crosswalk at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Guadalupe, as well as repairs to the shared-use path on the Drake Bridge (South First Street). A right-of-way excavation permit was issued on May 19 for work to begin on June 7.
“Members of the Homeless Street Team (HOST) and district representatives of APD met with people around the town hall to inform them of the upcoming construction,” a door said. -speak to the Chronicle in a Monday morning statement. “Those who refuse to comply with the instruction may receive a citation for violating the camping ordinance or be placed under arrest if they do not comply. “
Volunteers help move and save campers’ belongings during the June 14 cleanup (Photo by John Anderson)
During a press conference on Tuesday June 15, City Manager Spencer cronk said future camp clearances, as the city complies with Proposal B, would play out differently, as those outside City Hall were protesters closer to those who took control space during Occupy Austin in 2012, who were also cleared by the police as intruders. Local TV segments and Fox News stirred up fear and prompted Cronk to act; Member of the board Mackenzie kelly told Fox 7 Austin on May 30, “It’s getting out of hand. My question is, when will someone be seriously injured to make this stop?”
While many in the camp agreed that they were protesting the city’s inadequate response to the homeless, they were also among the thousands of Austinians living without shelter. “I have been waiting here for accommodation for more than 40 days and I do not know when I will be placed somewhere”, William bradford tell us. “Housing is a human right and I am here to protest for my rights.” Others said they were told that long waiting lists for housing meant they would wait for a placement for up to three years.
While the acting chief of police Joseph Chacon agreed the scene was “very different” from the other encampments, “I understand the officers did a good job,” and he does not anticipate any changes to the town’s Prop B plans. Under these plans, no one residing in a now illegal settlement would be forced to move until August. But three sources in the city independently confirmed to us that management learned of the planned authorization late Friday, June 11, giving both the DPA and agencies that could help the homeless, such as the DACC or Integral care, little time to prepare a safe application plan.
“I have been waiting here for accommodation for more than 40 days and I don’t know when I will be placed somewhere. Housing is a human right and I am here to protest for my rights.
– William Bradford
As Cronk’s office sent word to relevant departments, a press release from the city marked the start of Phase 2 of the Prop B plan: they are meeting with individuals who have already been warned. ” provided on Monday, the spokesperson reiterated that the Prop B plan allows arrests whenever an individual’s behavior “constitutes an imminent danger to himself or to others.” Blocking the right-of-way of the planned construction represented a such danger, said the spokesperson.
At least seven people were arrested at the scene and taken to Travis County Jail for trial on charges of obstructing public office and disobeying a lawful order, both Class C offenses The city spokesman had previously said that those arrested for an “applicable class C offense” could be dealt with by the DACC, whose job is to provide support to social services as an alternative to incarceration.