‘Fascism is America’s Biggest Enemy’: Election Day for Homeless Texans

The ARCH center in downtown Austin.
The ARCH center in downtown Austin.  Gus Bova

AUSTIN — When asked about the presidential election, a man who identified himself only as Zion responded, “Didn’t you hear about the guy on the corner with the ‘Fuck Trump’ sign? That was me.”

Zion was one of many people clustered in an alley overlooking Waller Creek near Austin’s largest homeless shelter, the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH). Most of them are residents of the shelter and are among more than 19,000 Texans who are homeless.

“Clinton’s untrustworthy, like all politicians,” said Zion, a young veteran who cast his ballot two weeks ago, “but fascism is America’s biggest enemy.”

Jay Laughlin, a 50-year-old former manual laborer, told me he tried to cast the first vote of his life today at a nearby bookstore but was discouraged by an hour-and-a-half-long line. Laughlin said he would have voted for Trump.

“I see Hillary as a baby-kissing politician,” he explained. “Trump is a businessman, and that’s what America needs instead of another baby-kisser.”

A young man who identified himself as Lee Jung Cox said he would have voted for Hillary but believed he couldn’t since he had no ID.

Sitting apart from the group with a friend was John Simmons, a veteran who served in the 1980s. Simmons said he remembers voting for Perot and both Bushes but didn’t see the point this year.

“There’s no one to vote for,” he said. “Actually, what’s your name? I’ll write you in.”

Latonia Hill
Latonia Hill said that if she “voted for someone, I’d vote for Clinton, because she’s a woman and Trump’s a racist.”  Gus Bova

Latonia Hill, a young black woman sitting next to Simmons, initially refused to talk with me, saying only, “I don’t vote.” But, as Simmons went on, she grew interested and chimed in.

“If I voted for someone, I’d vote for Clinton,” Hill said, “because she’s a woman and Trump’s a racist.”

Hill said she couldn’t vote, however, because she had felonies on her record.

Follow the rest of the Observer’s Election Day 2016 coverage here.

Gus Bova is a reporter-researcher at the Observer. He focuses on immigration, the U.S.-Mexico border and grassroots movements. Before the Observer, he worked at a shelter for asylum-seekers and refugees. You can contact him at [email protected]

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Published at 6:47 pm CST
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