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‘These People Are Armed With Machetes, They Have Metal Pipes’: Austin Council Member Sounds Alarm Over Homeless Camp Near City Hall
Tents in public — Portland, Oregon

On Thursday, Austin, Texas, council member Mackenzie Kelly appeared on “Fox & Friends First” to speak of her fear that the homeless who are camping en masse around the City Hall area, some of whom are protesting a proposition that prohibited public camping, pose a genuine threat to people’s safety.

“Fox & Friends First” host Todd Piro asked, “What were you hoping to accomplish by starting a dialogue with these individuals?”

Kelly answered, “I was hoping to find out what their point of view was. One of the great things about living in this country is that we have a diversity of thought and we can all learn from one another, but clearly, that individual specifically did not want to do that.”

“How worrisome is it to you that these individuals have established an armed camp, an armed security force to more or less defend their camp?” Piro asked. “Because if recent events are any indication, like in Portland and Seattle, this doesn’t end well.”

“Exactly,” Kelly replied. “And that is my main concern, not just for my safety but for the safety of everyone who works around City Hall, in and around downtown. We have a beautiful city; people used to come here in droves to visit. However, this is unacceptable.”

Piro played some comments from residents, including, “You have people who are assaulted; people who are robbed; we’ve had home invasions. It started with boxcutters as a weapon, Now we, sadly, we joke that we’re the machete capital of Texas.” “The city of Austin lets them do whatever they want.” “We, as a people and as citizens, are left to fend for ourselves.”

One resident queried, “How long can this whole situation go on before somebody or multiple people get really seriously hurt or worse?”

“Hopefully it ends soon,” Kelly said. “I’ve been told by the city manager that the ‘free speech zone’ will not go away until August 8. My problem with that is that this has happened before. During the Occupy movement ten years ago, our city council ensured there was no oversight camping on the property. My biggest concern here is for safety.”

“These people are armed with machetes, they have metal pipes, they have sticks, walkie-talkies and they are wearing bullet proof vests,” she continued. “They have not only harassed me, but I have had city staff come into my office over the last several days thanking me for speaking out about it because they’re experiencing the same thing.”

Roughly three weeks ago, the voters of Austin approved Proposition B, which prohibits public camping in an effort to combat the city’s homeless problem. A majority (57%) of voters approved of the proposition while 42% opposed it.

Referring to the Democratic mayor of Austin and the city council, which is composed of 10 Democrats and a single Republican, Matt Mackowiak, Travis County Republican Party chair, stated, “Tonight is a clear message the city of Austin sent to City Hall that we’re not going to put up with insane policies that make life worse. The mayor, Greg Casar (the former mayor of Austin) and a number of other members of the City Council decided to double down on a policy that was clearly failing,” the Austin American-Statesman reported.

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