Owen Shroyer of InfoWars livestreamed a “tent city cookout” in front of City Hall, in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, to protest an ordinance that permitted camping anywhere in the city.
On Periscope, Shroyer proudly announced the start of his “tent city cookout”, where he and friends were “tossing a pigskin around,” grilling some meats, and just generally having a good time:
We got Alex Jones airing live down here… we got a cot in case we need to take a nap… we got food, we got protein bars. Folks, if you’re in Austin Texas and you wanna come by, come on down! We got plenty of eats, we got plenty of water, we got the Alex Jones Show blasting live, we’re tossing a pigskin around. How can you want to miss out on this?
The jovial nature of the cookout contrasted with the rather more serious reason for their protest; an ordinance went into affect on July 1st, which made “public camping” no longer a citable offence.
It was previously an offence to be “sitting or lying down on public sidewalks or sleeping outdoors.”
Austin police issued 18,000 citations between 2014 and 2016 for anyone doing so. However, as Shroyer pointed out, it is still an offence to do so in the area in front of City Hall itself, which is why he decided to pitch his own mini tent city right in front of them.
The change has caused trouble for the residents of the city, with “tent cities popping up everywhere… people are having cookouts under I35 and 71 and 290,” according to Shroyer.
Craig Staley, a local business owner, told the Washington Post that the decision was making him question his own party allegiances:
I got two emails last month from customers who said, ‘I can’t go to your store anymore because it smells like urine… I am a Democrat at heart; I have been in Austin, Texas, for over 30 years. But I am telling you, I am feeling a lot more red these days when it comes to my business.
Alex Jones told the National File that the biggest issue was that the city is now calling the homeless “campers”:
They’re telling them to come here; the mayor told 590 AM like a month ago that they’re doing this to bring more attention to the homeless, but the city council, here’s the key, they exempted themselves.
30,000 people have signed a petition to “rescind the homeless camping ordinance in Austin” on Change.org, claiming that the result has been “chaos”:
Homeless people are camping on sidewalks downtown (in front of businesses), there have been several violent attacks, and they continue to camp in parks and on private property, believing that they either won’t be reported to police or police won’t remove them. It is time to rescind this policy which is bad for tourism, the Austin economy, public safety and public health.
Shroyer was slightly upset at the petition reaching such high numbers. “Why would you want to shut down the tent city cookout,” he asked. “We’re gonna be grilling out here!”