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 Tuesday 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."

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