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APD Cop on Homeless: "We're gonna chase them out of town."

homeless person in austin
Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News
An unidentified homeless person sits on Guadalupe Street in Austin.

Homeless advocates are reeling this morning after comments made by an APD police officer to KVUE TV.  TV cameras followed APD officers as they shut down a homeless camp near Ben White and South Congress.  Police told KVUE that they were acting on complaints from local businesses.

APD Lt. Paul Christ says the camp went under the radar of police until recently, when nearby businesses complained of thefts.  "The air conditioning units were being tampered with, copper being stolen, compressors being stolen,” Christ said.

But what really set off homeless advocates was what Christ said next, in response to a question about what police would do if homeless people returned to the camp.

"We're gonna go in, we're gonna chase them out of town,” Christ said.

The CTOSH email listserv acts as a primary method of communication among local community groups. (CTOSH stands for Collaboration Technologies for Organizations Serving the Homeless.) This morning, several people reacted angrily, including one local program associate who accused APD of "acting like storm troopers". Others said this practice has been going on for years, something they refer to as "hate crimes against the homeless."

KUT News is seeking on-the-record reaction from some local homeless advocates and APD. What do you think? Was it a slip of the tongue by Lt. Christ? Or do his remarks reveal a hidden resentment towards the homeless among the ranks of APD?

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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