Filed under: Action, Central, Housing
Report from Stop the Sweeps in Austin on recent brutal attack by police against protest encampment following the passing of Prop B.
Today on the first day of City Council’s vacation and after a weekend of Austin PD whining over a “staffing shortage,” dozens of pigs and city workers arrived to punish the Occupation of City Hall. Not quite a total eviction, it was a dramatic escalation in line with the harassment they have endured by right-wing City Council Member Mackenzie Kelly, some management staff and APD.
Multiple city agencies were involved, APD, Austin Resource Recovery, the Homeless Strategy Office, City Hall Management, and the Purple Bin Storage Program of Downtown Community Court.
All in the service of the big money Tech, Finance and Real Estate investors in Prop B [a ban on camping outside; targeted at the homeless]. Not just a hired police force, but a hired multi-agency goon squad.
These agencies were coordinated by City Manager Spencer Cronk who gave the go ahead just this last Friday. Under the guise of doing sidewalk construction on two corners, license was given to move on the camp on all sides. Move they did. Shove, tackle, and arrest, APD cleared the way for peoples belongings to be removed by the crews.
Camp defenders were arrested brutally around 7am and their tents were torn open and trashed. Some tents were moved out of the construction zone voluntarily, others were placed in purple trash bins used by both the Community Court Storage Bins and the ARR camp trash program. Even if the property taken was stored instead of trashed, we expect to see that much of it was damaged in the process, and facilitated the eviction from those corners. Will the Storage Program be crucial to sweeps going forward?
After tents moved from the Corners, APD kept moving, eventually blocking off 2nd street behind City Hall. People who had just moved from Cesar Chavez were told by police that Prop B mandated “no new camps” and that the enforcement calendar laid out by CM Cronk was “just a guideline.” City press releases said that 2nd Street was cleared because residents were on private property. Stupidity? Lies? Both?
During this time Charles Loosen, our favorite rep from the Homeless Strategy Office was buzzing around checking in with residents able to be house through HEAL, feeding a rumor that homeless occupiers were receiving housing. Austin Resource Recovery, which received enhanced funding a year ago for “cleanup” support was also on the scene. Between Loosen, ARR, and the Purple Bin program, the “helpers” within the system seem resigned to complicity with Prop B enforcement. They repeat “I’m just doing my job.” Fighting back this genocidal policy requires much more.
Parts of the City Hall Camp still stand and need support. Tents and bedding can be dropped off.
This opening act of Prop B enforcement looks just like the militarized cruelty that Council and city bureaucrats promised to avoid. Let this be a practice round for many fights ahead.