Austin Autonomedia: Keeping Austin Criminal
Over the past 6 months, the long standing war on the homeless in Austin has seen some massive escalations. After a coalition of progressive groups got Austin City Council to decriminalize acts like sitting, lying, and camping, a counter-coalition of business interests–associated with groups like Take Back Austin, the Republican Party, and the Downtown Austin Alliance–whipped up a fervor and fought back. This set the stage for our present moment, in which regular sweeps carried out by TXDoT alongside daily harassment from APD further marginalize those who have already been dispossessed and displaced by a city . While we could open this piece with a deeper explanation of the events that led us here, that work has already been done by organizations like Homes Not Handcuffs and Stop the Sweeps Austin. Our interest is not in just recounting this history, but in offering an intervention to inform and motivate action to impede these forces. There are a whole litany of forces at play here, all of which have different vested interests and weak points. While we hope to dive into some of these forces in the future, right now we offer this investigation on one of the primary forces enabling the sweeps of homeless camps: a company named WorkQuest.