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Austin Chronicle: Austin FC Fans Prove Y’all Means All

Posted in Austin, Austin Chronicle, and Journalism

I’ve just completed my first byline for the Austin Chronicle, the local free paper. Using a recent Twitter flamewar as a frame, I looked at what life is like for unhoused people living Austin through their own voices as well as those of volunteers providing mutual aid: 

On January 2 of this year, Chris Saldaña sent a tweet, tagging  Austin’s mayor and police chief: “Happy New Year @Chief_Chacon, any  update on @austintexasgov cleaning up this piece of property that  belongs to the City of #Austin. It’s going on two months that you said  it would be handled. This video is from today. Cars, trash, drugs,  prostitution. Help us @MayorAdler.”

The linked video pans through an encampment used by unhoused people  in a North Austin park near I-35 in the St. Johns neighborhood. A pile  of trash bags and garbage gathered into a pile can be seen, and some  tents, but not much else. (No people are visible.)

Saldaña, a journalist and communications professional, spent 2021 as  an announcer for Austin FC, during the inaugural year of Austin’s Major  League Soccer team. Things turned sour for him quickly after the tweet,  which was met with a flood of disagreement (and, according to Saldaña,  some threatening messages too). Many of the replies were from fans, who  thought that his tweet was starkly at odds with the inclusive atmosphere  they’ve tried to create at Austin FC games, where attendees may chant,  “Y’all means all.”

“I was disgusted by the tweet,” said Justin Davis, a formerly  unhoused season ticket holder who now drives an electric cab. Davis was  one of multiple regular attendees who reached out to the team asking for  a formal response. Although the team never publicly responded, some  fans report receiving a short reply saying the issue would be handled  internally.


Read more on the Austin Chronicle. 

As someone that identifies as a gonzo journalist, it was especially fun to get to use sports as a lens through which to reflect important aspects of human culture, much as Hunter Thompson so famously did in his work. Beyond that, this is an issue that means a lot to me as a human being. I really put my all into this and I hope it shows.

My piece can be found online and in the Austin Chronicle print edition, for those of you who are local.