Tent city rises following arrests

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The Endling Homelessness Working Group of Occupy Austin started a new Tent City encampment Wednesday to give Austin's homeless population a place to sleep until public resources catch up with their needs. 

Photo Credit: David Maly | Daily Texan Staff

Following the Saturday arrest of three of its members during a weekend “Tent City” encampment effort, the End Homelessness working group of Occupy Austin is back in action, said Tent City organizer Peter Cooper.

The organization began a new Tent City encampment Wednesday within the city of Austin. Cooper said the organization is not disclosing the location of the Tent City encampment to the general public for now because it is uncertain about the legality of its actions. He said city laws prohibiting certain uses of public land are very complex and confusing, causing members of the group and homeless people every day to be unsure about when or where they can legally sleep or camp within the city.

Austin Police did not return requests for comment on where in Austin the group could legally set up the encampment.

Cooper said the encampment was created in honor of what has unofficially been declared World Homeless Day. He said it is meant to give the homeless a place to go until city resources can catch up with their needs.

This past weekend, roughly 30 members of the organization traveled to six different locations on both public and private property around the city and attempted to make a Tent City encampment site at five of them. At each location, the organization was heavily monitored by police who forced them to evacuate from two of the locations because they were on private property and their owners did not want the protesters there, police said. Three members of the group were arrested during the effort.

Cooper said the fact that the organization was unable to find a place they could legally set up the Tent City encampment Saturday illustrates the struggle the homeless go through each day as they search for a place to sleep legally at night because the shelters are full.

Cooper said he hopes the Tent City encampment created Wednesday will be permanent, but if the organization is forced to evacuate because of legal issues, they will simply find another location and keep going.

“The idea is to keep it going for as long as possible, and if we get chased out, to try to continue by moving around like we did last time,” he said.

Cooper said he hopes this effort will bring attention to the plight of the homeless in Austin and the need for more residential services to meet their needs.

Printed on Thursday, October 11, 2012 as: Occupy Austin continues making tents for homeless