Nearly Three Dozen Judges Demand City Close Crime-Ridden Homeless Encampments Near Courthouse
By Steve Pomper
Sometimes it takes violent crime—murder often qualifies—to prompt action from a politicians. But, as we saw with Seattle Mayor Jenny “Summer of Love” Durkan, who presided over the infamous CHOP/CHAZ (true) insurrection (with real guns and everything), with some “leaders” even a murder or two isn’t enough to extract action from a government.
The Seattle Times reported that 33 King County Superior Court (KCSC) judges and four court commissioners have sent a letter requesting the Seattle Parks Department shutdown a nearby “tent city.” In fact, the encampment looks as if it’s a foreign army laying siege to the courthouse. Truth be told it kind of has been.
The beautiful Pioneer Square and City Hall Park were formerly a welcoming place for court and other businesses’ employees to enjoy their lunch break. The letter expressed the jurists’ “deep concern for the safety of…” people coming to and going from the courthouse.
Today, these attractions have become cesspools of unaddressed addiction, untreated mental illness, and unenforced and unprosecuted crime. The area is a cautionary tale about what happens when voters keep electing radical politicians.
Recently, another charming “resident” attempted to rob and then assaulted a 65-year-old man. And then he kicked the man’s little dog to death. A municipal court judge set this “resident” free almost immediately. And what do you know? He failed to show up for his court date. A warrant has been issued.
There are legitimate underlying issues affecting many of these folks that need to be addressed. However, the leftist politicians have created a mess and endangered court employees and others. If this weren’t true, would all these judges, some who are likely accountable for some repeat offenders, have signed such a letter of distress?
Presiding Judge Jim Rogers addressed the letter to Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre and also distributed it to Mayor Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine, the entire Seattle City Council and Metropolitan King County Council, Interim/Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, Seattle City Prosecutor Pete Holmes, and Anita Khandelwal at the King County Department of Public Defense (I’m also guessing a copy went to King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. Pete, Anita, and Dan are pretty much interchangeable), and downtown business associations.
“The [judges’] letter to Aguirre cites a Seattle Times news story published this week about legislation introduced by Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn [though the council is nominally non-partisan, Dunn is a well-known conservative who worked in the Bush (“W”) administration] to condemn the 0.56-acre park as a public-safety hazard in the wake of a fatal stabbing last week that was preceded by several other incidents of violent crime.” Strange, it took a conservative to make such a move whose coattails the judges felt they could ride on.
KCSC repeatedly met with city and park officials and wrote, “Little has changed, other than conditions becoming even more dire.” The judges want the city of Seattle “to act swiftly and immediately close the park.” Seattle does nothing “swiftly and immediately” unless it involves supporting Antifa and BLM rioters or disciplining a police officer.
The judges say they’re concerned about alternative housing (they have to say that these days, don’t they?). Forget the “throwaway” PC tropes. Most of the residents routinely refuse housing, employment, treatment, or counseling offered. Talk to any cop, and yes, they’ll tell you about the rare anomaly. However, they will also tell you most “homeless” people they encounter don’t want “help.” Living on the streets is their chosen lifestyle. It’s true, many may not know what’s best for them, but through all the muddle of addiction and/or (the one often precedes the other) mental illness, it’s what they want or, at least, think they want. Either way, they often refuse assistance.
Anti-cop Seattle City Councilmember (I know, redundant) Andrew Lewis, whose district includes Pioneer Square and City Hall Park immediately began putting up roadblocks to a solution. To refresh you, he’s one of the city councilmembers who was for funding the police before he was for defunding the police.
Lewis fears “they will simply be displaced into the surrounding neighborhoods.” That’s because any needed remedy requires consistent law enforcement intervention with support from both the Seattle and King County prosecutors. But they’re not exactly fanatics about prosecuting criminals.
Another roadblock Lewis put up was, “Many of the park’s residents [Residents? Cop translation: trespassers] have ‘high acuity’ [small word salad?] needs… undiagnosed mental health and addiction issues so will need more intensive services.” So, his solution: offer even more services the “residents” will decline. Brilliant! He also touted a $15 million King County “justCARE model” with which the county/city intend to “help move people from City Hall Park and Pioneer Square into hotel shelters and tiny home villages.”
Lewis compounded his political roadblock building by conscripting local business owners with a dubious comment he made associating it to them. “Merchants in Pioneer Square are very worried that if something too precipitous happens, those tents will be in front of their businesses again.” Oh, are they very worried about that? No, they’re very worried the city/county won’t enforce the laws equally with everyone. Including laws against camping on public sidewalks and blocking business entrances.
The city refuses to use law enforcement to help solve the immediate problem. Lewis argues if the city kicks them out of the park, they’ll just set up camp on the sidewalk in front of businesses. Really? A civilized society uses its representative democracy to make certain behaviors illegal. Like camping in parks or on the sidewalk so other people can use them. When someone violates the laws, there should be legal consequences.
But that’s the problem, isn’t it? There are no more legal consequences for anyone who qualifies for the radical leftists’ pet utopian projects. Tracing enforcement back to 1986, before I was a cop, then after 1992, throughout my career, and now with woke politics rocketing into the stratosphere of lunacy, I can see what worked back then and what doesn’t work today. This entire mess can be traced back to not allowing the cops to do what they’re trained to do. Enforce the law—equally.
When we enforced the law, we had the entire community’s wellbeing in mind. When someone trespassed by camping in a park or on a sidewalk, we made sure they left under threat of citation or arrest. You know, so mom, dad, and the kids could walk down the sidewalk unmolested and enjoy the park their taxes are paying for. This false concern for and assumption that every “homeless” person is just “down on their luck” is B.S. Ask any cop. Oh, wait… the Left doesn’t want to do that. Why? Because the cops’ solutions make too much sense.
Lewis also alluded to a justCARE early “success” story. He said, “Last week, all 33 people living in an encampment in the 1400 block of Third Avenue accepted referrals to shelter in hotels through the JustCARE program.” Yes, we’ve seen the “success stories” of the damage to hotels cities have commandeered for the “homeless” in places such as, San Francisco.
And, keeping with an apparent “33” motif, judges and homeless, in February, MSN.com reported on homeless activists paying for 17 rooms at an Olympia hotel, having 33 “homeless” people move in, and then the activists “took over” the hotel. Homeless advocate Emma Veite’s group, “Demanded that Thurston County use funds from FEMA to pay for the rooms.” As if local homelessness is a federal crisis.
The Times ended its piece on an apt utopian note, predicting, “That [moving homeless into hotels] could be a dress rehearsal for what we do in City Hall Park.” Oh, sure it is. You know, because these politicians have such an impressive track record solving the homeless problem.
I mean, to paraphrase Dan Bongino, if these great leftist homelessness programs are supposed to solve homelessness, why aren’t they solving homelessness? For how long do you hit a nail with a rubber mallet before you realize you’re using the wrong tool?
Leftist homeless advocates have an answer. And it’s always the same answer. This time we’ll get it right because we’re the ones doing it.