People dealing with homelessness surrounded the City Hall in Austin, Texas, raised their voices against the local government’s recent decision to reinstate camping on public land.
Gathering in tents, rioters wanted to send a message that would show their dissatisfaction with the city’s decision.
It is why they decided to show up in front of the City Hall even though camping in front of it had been banned in Austin even before the recent decision.
A woman experiencing homelessness in Austin told reporters several days ago that the rioters have formed their own ‘security division.’
People are reportedly organizing shifts that would keep an eye on possible external threats to the protests.
They are also wearing protective equipment, such as bulletproof vests.
Some of the rioters are even armed.
A video camera has recently shot an unnamed man holding a machete and threatening the police officers that he would kill them if he ‘had to.’
An attack on the City Council member
Mackenzie Kelly, an Austin City Council member, has reportedly been harassed several times by protesters.
On one occasion, a rioter addressed Kelly in insulting language as she delivered a speech to the media.
Concerned about the situation, Kelly encouraged her Twitter followers to report her harassers to the City Council.
Kelly said that she was attacked three times and that police officers were present during each time she felt threatened.
The Councilmember told reporters that she did not file any reports as she ‘did not want to strain the police with an additional work.’
Kelly said that both the City Manager’s office and the Austin Police Department told her that the protesters would not be removed because they are located at a ‘free speech zone.’
The Austin Police Department has reportedly put a deadline on August 8th.
If no agreement is reached and rioters do not move on that day, the police officers would likely have to use force.
Just another problem of the local government
The City Hall camping protest is just one of the several issues the government of Austin, led by Democratic Mayor Steve Adler, is dealing with these days.
Another controversy surrounds the city government’s decision to cut the city’s police budget by around one-third.
Many people fear that the decision, made in August last year, would have detrimental effects on public safety, particularly as it may aid the proliferation of crime in the area.
However, these worries were significantly appeased after Texas has recently passed state legislation that penalizes local governments that lower their police budgets.