Old viral video sparks "homeless-crisis" Twitter feud between Texas officials

A shocking video became popular on social media on Friday.

In the video, a man throws signs at cars in Downtown Austin. The video got a lot of attention given the exposure to Austin’s homeless crisis and recent changes to the city’s ordinances impacting the homeless.

Governor Greg Abbott retweeted the video stating “Austin's policy of lawlessness has allowed vicious acts like this. Austin's inability to restore order will compel the State to act beginning November 1st if action is not taken to ensure public safety.” 

Hours after the video was posted the same account put out another tweet explaining that the video was from 2018, causing a twitter feud between public officials. 

A number of Austin officials took to Twitter to criticize the governor. “Governor, that video is almost two years old, well before any recent ordinance changes. This isn't the first time you’ve fallen victim to social media trolls trying to mislead and scare Austinites. Let’s focus on actually ending homelessness. #LetsEndHomelessness” tweeted Mayor Adler. 

Governor Abbott replied:  “Thanks [Mayor Adler] for making my point. That video was before you altered the homeless policy that made public safety WORSE. You fool no one. Everyone knows the dangers downtown. Attacks have INCREASED since that video. Stop ignoring the dangers & keep people safe.” 

Austin City Council Member Greg Casar, also weighed in on Twitter: "@GregAbbott_TX your video is 20 months old. You should be ashamed & apologize for your intentionally misleading propaganda. Stop trying to win political points at the expense of my city’s sense of safety & at the expense of all homeless Texans. We won’t stand for it.” he wrote. 

Austin Police Association President, Ken Casaday, responded to Casar's tweet: 

“Greg, you’re right about this being an old video. Unfortunately, this type of behavior is common in downtown. Vehicles and businesses downtown are vandalized on a daily basis by people experiencing mental health issues. Please use the Home Depot for temp housing. Don't play NIMBY!”  he wrote. 

“You know they got him on a video from last year but they also probably could find about ten videos a day from that same area downtown, so it’s really disingenuous on their behalf to attack the governor that way.” Casaday told FOX 7 Austin. 

Like Casaday and Abbott, many have pointed to “rising downtown crime rates” during debates over Austin’s homeless crisis. 

FOX 7 Austin looked at aggravated assaults in a thousand-foot radius around the ARCH from January 1 to October 26, 2018, and from January 1 to October 26, 2019. Last year there were 55 aggravated assaults during that time period. This year, there have been 67. 

“We can sit here and have semantics going between the state government and the local government, but it’s the local government that’s created this problem.” Casaday said. 

Saturday morning, court documents show a police officer had a cane thrown at him by a homeless man he was arresting. According to documents, the man had a cane because he and another man, allegedly beat, and robbed a blind homeless man -- near the ARCH. 

“Homeless people are victimized every day and horrible things happen to them.” Casaday said, also pointing out that the dangers officers face -- “It’s a common occurrence downtown every day you know officers get in fights and foot chases all within a ten-block area [around the ARCH.]”