Occupy Austin launches Tent City campaign

Occupy Austin launches Tent City campaign

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Some of those pitching tents around Austin this weekend are not tailgaters. Members of the Austin Occupy Movement say they are camping out in public places to bridge the gap between empty homes and homeless people.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Austin Occupy movement. To celebrate members have launched what they call the Tent City Campaign.

One of the first Occupy campsites set up Friday morning was near the corner of 6th Street and Congress. These campers were protesting Banks.

With more camp outs planned for Saturday night, organizers spent Friday collecting tents and supplies.

Jesse Greiner and Peter Cooper say the Tent City protest is to make a statement. They believe everybody should be free to pick a place to live, whether it's a home or in the woods.

"Just around town there are a lot of spaces like this one and the one next door, like Travis House before it was destroyed that we could re-imagine and house people and better the community rather than keeping them vacant," said Cooper.

It could be a lost weekend for the occupiers. They're not the only ones putting up tents. Several outdoor events are scheduled- including fans tailgating for the Longhorn game against an invading force from West Virginia.

The potential for conflict is not limited to a football weekend. The camp out is taking place at the same time police are conducting a new downtown crackdown. It's called the Public Order Initiative.

APD officials are not committing on camera about the initiative, but in a written statement indicated the focus is about rooting out problem crime areas. They are not saying if the initiative is part of a campaign to clear out and clean up transient camps before the big November F-1 weekend. The occupiers are also not saying just yet where they plan to pitch their tents. Some locations could be land that's privately owned.

"I would say borrowing it with the hopes of taking it over later depending on the owner," said Greiner.

There is a city ordinance against overnight camping and APD officials are expected to enforce it. But setting up during daylight hours may be tolerated as long as trespassing and other laws are not violated.

"If they are being peaceful, we are going to react to any incident that requires police response," said Veneza Bremner of the Austin Police Department.

An example of that took place at the camp on Congress. Police told the occupiers a vehicle was needed in order to claim the parking space they moved into. A car was rolled in under the tent. After time on their parking sticker expired, the camp was rolled up and rolled out.

Occupy members believe because they are conducting an active protest they will be able to spend the night at the sites they select but the city ordinance prohibits the use of things like tents. Arrests are possible but FOX 7 was told the occupiers may also pack up and move to another spot and just keep on bouncing from one location to another.

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