During an interview with Fox and Friends First on Thursday, City Councilwoman Mackenzie Kelly of Austin, Tex., shared her experiences and serious concerns over a large armed homeless encampment that has set up near Austin City Hall. Kelly went out to speak to them, and spoke about what she found.
"My biggest concern here is for safety," Kelly said. "These people are armed with machetes, they have metal pipes, they have sticks, walkie-talkies, and they're wearing bulletproof vests. They've not only harassed me, but I've 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."
"What were you hoping to accomplish by starting a dialogue with these individuals?" Asked Fox & Friends First host Todd Piro.
"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," replied Kelly.
"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?” asked Piro. "Because if recent events are any indication, like in Portland and Seattle, this doesn’t end well."
"Exactly. 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," stated Kelly. "We have a beautiful city; people used to come here in droves to visit. However, this is unacceptable."
Kelly said that she hopes "...it ends soon. I've been told you the city manager that the 'free speech zone' will not go away until August 8," said Kelly.
"My problem with that is that this is happened before during the occupy movement 10 years ago. Our city council ensured that there was no overnight camping on the property."
Earlier in May, residents of Austin voted to pass Proposition B, which looks to reinstate criminal penalties associated with public camping in an effort to curb the city's explosion in homeless population. The vote passed 90,428 in support to 66,292 opposing.
Matt Mackowiak, Travis County GOP chair and co-creator of Save Austin Now which spearheaded the proposition, tweeted after the proposition passed his support of the bill.