Last weekend Occupy Austin marked it’s first birthday — exactly one year since it began at Austin City Hall on October 6, 2011. Along with a Popular Assembly, the day’s main event was an attempt to create a new encampment specifically for the city’s homeless. Austin Police expended a massive number of resources to repeatedly evict and harass the campers, as I reported on Firedoglake:
Occupy Austin’s Ending Homelessness Working Group called for the action with the goal of creating new temporary housing for those without homes. The encampment, if allowed to exist, would follow strict behavior guidelines for all those present. It would provide critical meals and shelter for a city which has thousands of homeless (about 4,000) and only hundreds of beds in dangerous, overcrowded shelters. Austin has also made it illegal to camp on public property, against city code to erect tents on private property within city limits, and even illegal to sit or lay down on the sidewalk. The timing of the action was perfect to shed light on the problem, because the Austin Police Department has started an initiative to ‘clean up downtown‘ for the Austin City Limits Festival and the upcoming Formula 1 Race in November. Arrests of the homeless have increased as much as 200% or more by some reports.