By JUAN A. LOZANO
HOUSTON (AP) - Houston's mayor says a court order that allows homeless encampments despite a city ordinance banning them is helping create a growing public safety and health hazard.
However, the American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing the city, says the ordinance is criminalizing homelessness.
At a news conference Thursday near one of the homeless encampments, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the sites have become havens for criminal activity.
Turner says two murders and one non-fatal stabbing have taken place at two of the encampments in the last 30 days.
Officials say unsanitary conditions at the sites, due to feces and urine, are also becoming a public health hazard.
ACLU attorneys say the city should investigate these deadly incidents at the encampments but "not scapegoat the most vulnerable members of our society."
This story has been corrected to show the news conference took place on Thursday, not Tuesday.
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