Despite Discovery of Dead Body, Scheduled Sweep of Unhoused Encampment Went Ahead

Sweep took place mere hours after the discovery

A person's remains lay in a tent during a sweep Tuesday, Feb. 22 (Courtesy of João Paulo Connolly)

A nonprofit worker was assisting unhoused Austinites at an encampment Tuesday, Feb. 22, when he unzipped a tent and discovered a person's dead body, according to a news release from Austin Justice Coalition's organizing director João Paulo Connolly.

Then, during the next two hours, a scheduled sweep of the camp went on as planned, with officers breaking down tents and tossing belongings aside while the body lay in the tent, showing "the level of dehumanization and disregard" for the lost life, Connolly wrote.

Police saw it differently. Medics arrived before the crew of officers who would clear out the camp on the 400 block of South Pleasant Valley Road, according to a statement from the Austin Police Department. Police and city staff decided together to postpone the cleanup until they'd determined the death was not suspicious. At that point, police cordoned off the tent and waited for the Medical Examiner to arrive as the sweep continued.

"Crime scene tape was put up to preserve the dignity and respect of the deceased," an APD statement said. "Weeks, if not months of planning, have taken place among several City departments for this clean-up to take place."

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