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Politics

Amid the possibilities that Austin voters could reinstate the city's camping ban and the implementation of a statewide ban, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the current plan is failing.

Austin City Council repealed the camping ban in 2019, after advocates said it criminalized homelessness. Adler told the Austin American-Statesman on Thursday that the approach "is not working," but added that going back to the previous ban also didn't address the city's homelessness issues.

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(Office of the Governor)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's public safety priorities for the current legislative session include making it "fiscally impossible" for municipalities to defund their police departments and a statewide plan to address homelessness that will include a ban on public camping. Both are clear rebukes to recent policy changes enacted by local elected officials.

"We cannot and will not allow Austin to defund the police," Abbott said during a press conference on Thursday. "Texas must set the example for the United States of America, not only to support law enforcement but to fully fund law enforcement agencies."

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Greg Casar in 2019. (Greg Casar/Facebook)

Greg Casar lobbied City Hall for the first time 10 years ago. Recently out of college and working as the policy director for the Workers Defense Project, a progressive advocacy group, he joined construction workers in a six-hour thirst strike on a hot day in late June. The next month, Austin City Council passed an ordinance requiring rest breaks at construction sites.

Despite this success and other workers' rights gains, Casar said he was disillusioned with the council's response. Former Mayor Lee Leffingwell wouldn't respond to meeting requests. Former council members told him, if he really cared about social justice and workers' rights, he should focus on the Texas Legislature rather than City Hall. "That attitude needed to change," he told Austonia during a recent interview.

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(Shutterstock)

The Austin Police Department is collaborating with an FBI agent and the Major Cities Chiefs Association to determine if any of its officers were present during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

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