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Gov. Abbott shares video of man lying on sidewalk, questions Austin’s ADA compliance

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Governor Greg Abbott is opening up a new front in his battle against the City of Austin’s policies.

Tuesday the governor retweeted a link to a video showing a man lying in the middle of a downtown sidewalk wheelchair ramp at the intersection of East Eighth and Brazos streets.

The man is motionless.

Neil Williams, the man who shared the video on his Facebook page, posted it with the comment, “Just another walk to the convention center. Fighting off K2 zombies. This is like an everyday sight now.”

In his tweet the Governor writes in part: “I’ll look into this — as well as look into whether Austin is violating the Americans With Disabilities Act by allowing people to block wheelchair ramps like your picture showed.”

Texas Politics Project Research Director Joshua Blank says highlighting Austin’s challenges is politically advantageous for the governor.

“By singling out Austin, it allows him to put himself in the conversation and show Texas, really his base, what they can expect with quote-unquote liberal policy directions in you know one of the state’s biggest cities,” Blank said.

But could this be an actually ADA violation?

Coalition of Texans with Disabilities Executive Director Dennis Borel doesn’t think so.

“This is not someone who is just sleeping or taking a nap or whatever, but somebody who had some sort of event causing them to be unconscious and no, that’s not an ADA violation,” Borel said.

Abbott later tweeted that those looking to help Austin’s homeless should provide support to ATX helps.

ATX Helps is a non-profit group that’s been raising money for people experiencing homelessness since the fall.

The group is trying to raise $14 million to put people in temporary shelters, however, it’s not currently offering any services.

Councilmember Kathie Tovo, who represents downtown, said there are better places where people can donate their time or money.

“Individuals that are looking for those direct services would be better served actually contacting social service providers,” Tovo said. “[ATX Helps] is an effort to raise money, so it wasn’t necessarily a terribly accurate tweet.”

KXAN reached out to Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services, but was unable to find out what happened to the man lying on the sidewalk.

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