The leadership of Keep Dallas Safe spent last weekend in Austin, and boy are our hearts tired.
The initial drive into the city was noneventful, until we entered downtown and were surrounded by huge, populous “tent cities” as far as the eye could see. There were parking lots full of cars acting as makeshift homes, groups of tents (commercially made and otherwise) lining the streets for blocks and blocks. In broad daylight, we witnessed prostitution, dealing of hard drugs, and untreated mental illness in full display.
While it is no secret that all major cities have some form of homeless population, the drastic change our leaders have witnessed in just a few short years is somewhere between terrifying and heart breaking.
Austin has had far left city managers, council members, and community leaders in charge for as long as we can remember. They have slashed their police budgets repeatedly, while screaming “social progress”. They have decriminalized theft and drug dealing. They have pushed a narrative of “police brutality” while turning away from the brutality our society’s most vulnerable population must live with every single day. The liberal agenda has destroyed the downtown of San Francisco. It has happened in Portland, Seattle, and Detroit. Now it has happened to Austin, and it is quickly worming its way into the city of Dallas. The vote in September by the City Council resulting in a $7 million reduction in overtime budget for the DPD is only the beginning.
We know the nation is at a crossroads. The mob violence terrorizing cities impacts every single citizen of America. Dallas saw its own share of mob violence over the summer when activists burned cars and destroyed Downtown businesses. That was a sad time for our city and the appalling condition of our State capital offered us a window into the future of Dallas if the citizens choose or refuse to act. The summer of unrest will become the new norm.
While walking to our dinner reservation several blocks from our hotel, we were followed by nefarious ghouls, swiftly creeping closer and closer until we reached our destination and ran inside. The potential offenders scurried off to find another victim. On our way back, we were forced to step over people laying on sidewalks, hundreds of abandoned scooters and bicycles: placed by well meaning but misguided tech companies who imagine a better city can be conjured with play toys instead of actuating a real change to the system and a focus on public safety. The sidewalks were littered with human feces and used syringes. We saw open illicit drug use, people getting sick: despair.
The following day it snowed, and the streets were eerily quiet. Those who found shelter hopefully survived. Those who were not able to presumably faced a day of hypothermia and illness. Maybe death.
The juxtaposition of the glistening beauty of snowy streets and the extreme desperation of the citizens forced to live there is not unfamiliar. We see it in Dallas. Not to this extreme though. Not yet.
Homelessness is a complex issue. It involves lack of access to mental health treatment, housing, addiction treatment, apathy, and judgement. City Council member Cara Mendelsohn has been
advocating for Dallas’s homeless population for years. The City of Dallas recently purchased a defunct hotel for conversion to homeless housing. These are small steps, and will make our city safer, but it is not enough.
When the time comes to choose our next city council in May, the citizens must vote on the issues most affecting the city. Public safety, police presence, business opportunities, and working to help the homeless. The hands-off approach of America’s liberal cities has failed them. Austin is not a gleaming beacon of futuristic hope: it is a cesspool rotten to its core. Dallas cannot allow this and Keep Dallas Safe will continue to achieve another version of the future. The version where our streets and citizens are safe and prosperous, and you do not have to risk your life for a meal in downtown.