AUSTIN, Texas - On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott clarified remarks he made about Austin’s homeless policies last week, as did Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza.
Following a fatal stabbing on South Congress Avenue, Abbott tweeted, "I bet you'll learn that the killer was a homeless man with prior arrests… if so, Austin’s reckless homeless policy puts lives in danger to murders like this."
“It’s time for the City of Austin to step up and start enforcing the law and start putting the safety of the people of Austin first,” Abbott said Tuesday.
Garza posted her response on Twitter calling the governor's tweet "a distraction from his poor leadership and the failure to fund the mental health and housing resources Texans need."
“I think it's incredibly unfortunate that our governor continues to scapegoat one of our most vulnerable populations,” Garza said Tuesday.
Now, Garza says enough with the back and forth on social media.
“We have to be better than that as a state, as a city, as a country,” said Garza.
She believes the governor's words are an unfair generalization and harmful to the homeless community.
“To use it as an example of why we shouldn't have decriminalized poverty, essentially, I think, is a political play and it's playing politics with a community that already has so many challenges, and the last thing they need is the leader of our state making them out to be violent,” Garza said.
However, Abbott said his tweet wasn't about demonizing homeless people, instead, he was criticizing city leaders' decision to remove a ban on camping, sitting or lying in some public spaces.
"What Austin has done, over the past half-year, is to perpetuate a sense of lawlessness in this city by the homeless," said the governor.
“I think we did the right thing. I think that there is a lot that we need to improve in our social service network and we've seen the holes in that,” Garza said.
On Tuesday, Garza said she hopes to put the focus back on helping those who need it most.
“Instead of this back and forth that's happening with our governor, I really wish we could sit down with our state leaders and say, ‘Let's stop. This isn't necessary. Let's figure out how we can really solve this problem,’” said Garza.