Present at start: Don, Tony, Charles, Vernal, Andy, Nancy (ACLU), Breanne, Cory (Common Cents), Simon (Stop the Sweeps), Jon Grant (Seattle city council candidate), Reavy
Vernal Coleman, Seattle Times reporter, introduces himself; he would like to write about how people in the camp are starting to organize; also he will cover the press conference
Campers speak out:
Tony says that one of our main things is to keep the place clean, with proper organization, the camp will run smoother, better; only man is willing to step up is Reavy; Reavy is making moves to help improve living conditions; no one wants to clean up another person’s mess, especially if that person is able bodied
Reavy wonders where the camp will move; Charles talks about other places the city was thinking of opening up; other sites;
Reavy says Camp Second Chance will expand to 50 places; Simon adds that Camp Second Chance is not a low barrier camp; similar to SHARE in it being zero tolerance
Charles suggests setting up in church parking lots; perhaps rotating, like a tent city
Simon wonders if everyone in the Field is trying to move somewhere? Charles thinks the majority is not thinking about moving; they want to protest, or stay; Charles is thinking that is a good idea too;
Reavy reads the e-mail supporters received from George Scarola on 2/24; Simon reads the e-mail that Scott Lindsay sent to city council members; the e-mail mentions public safety and health threats; rodents, uncontained bio-waste; public safety includes recent arrests; says UGM will offer shelter space to all the approximately 50 residents;
Here is the text of the e-mail:
From: Lindsay, Scott Sent: Friday, February 24, 2017 2:07 PM To: Bagshaw, Sally <Sally.Bagshaw@seattle.gov>; O’Brien, Mike <Mike.OBrien@seattle.gov>; Herbold, Lisa <Lisa.Herbold@seattle.gov>; Harrell, Bruce <Bruce.Harrell@seattle.gov>; Burgess, Tim <Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov> Subject: Closure of encampment at Airport Way S and Royal Brougham
Today, the City is providing advance notice to those living at the encampment at Airport Way S and Royal Brougham (sometimes referred to as the “Field” or the “Triangle”) that the encampment will be closed as of Tuesday, March 7. The site has increasing public health and public safety hazards that make it unsafe for those living or visiting there. The public health threats include a major rodent infestation and significant accumulation of uncontained biowaste. The public safety threat includes several recent arrests for sexual exploitation of minors.
Outreach and City teams are providing initial notice of the closure to people living at the site today (see attached). Outreach has been led by the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) for the past several months to help people living there find shelter and housing. Additional outreach at the site is being provided by REACH. Outreach with offers of shelter and services will continue at the site through March 7. UGM has capacity to offer shelter beds to all of the approximately 50 people residing at the encampment, and the City is working with other shelter and service providers to make alternative shelter available.
UGM has visited this site several times a week for the past several months with offers of shelter and services for those living there. Some of those individuals accepted the offers and moved to shelter or supportive housing. Many others have accepted services. REACH and other outreach providers also have clients at the encampment that they are working with. This outreach work will continue up to and after the March 7 closure of the site with the goal of moving as many people as possible into safer alternative shelter or housing. The City will also be offering people living at the encampment the opportunity to store personal belongings for up to 60 days.
The City will actively monitor and mitigate potential impacts on surrounding areas, including the EDGE, SODO, and the International District, over the next several months. I will be communicating with some of the impacted neighbors and neighborhoods about this shortly.
Over the last several months, the encampment has drawn police and fire response for increasingly serious public safety threats. Most recently, SPD has arrested two men and is investigating others for sexual exploitation of minors at this and other nearby encampments. According to the police report, one teenage victim reported after arriving in Seattle from New Jersey that over the course of weeks she stayed with several people in this encampment, many of whom raped her and had her sell herself for sex in exchange for money. Two other juvenile victims of sex trafficking associated with this encampment were recovered in the last several weeks. Stories covering these incidents include:
Since September 2016, the Seattle Police Department has received more than 100 dispatched calls for service at the encampment and responded to 36 significant incidents resulting in a ‘general offense’ report, including several serious assaults with weapons. During the same time, the Seattle Fire Department has been dispatched 41 times for fire and medic responses, including a recent significant fire. (see Fire Devours Three Tents At the Field; Fast-Thinking Campers Contain Blaze)
There are many people who have volunteered in recent weeks to address trash and other issues at the encampment and George Scarola will be connecting with them to channel that energy into help transitioning people inside over the next 10 days. If constituents contact you about ways to assist, please have them be in touch with George so those efforts can be coordinated.
Reavy started at the BMW space; the city told residents to come here; soon after arriving, the city said they would sweep the cite; then the city said it would no sweep if campers maintained camp hygiene; the city was overwhelmed by the number of people at the cite; residents began bagging up garbage, in garbage bags, putting it out on the street; the city said it wouldn’t pick up the garbage unless it was in green bags; the city’s been dumping on campers, saying do this and that, but they don’t want to help campers do it; the city wants to work with volunteers, it will ignore campers;
Reavy has gone to the city asking for fire extinguishers since September 14th; better access to fire extinguishers could have prevented fires from spreading; all camps have rat problems, don’t understand why the city is acting like the rat problem is new; even in regular tent cities, there are rat problems; why when the residents ask the city, the city won’t help; the city has helped once, they came to pick up garbage; three weeks ago, the city was supposed to have a cleanup party; August from FAS came around camp, distributed fliers announcing the cleanup; august said the city would step up, would help out; the cleanup party did not occur; the city would not respond; the city has been circumventing Reavy, Reavy suspects that city has tried to cut the head off of organization efforts;
Cory documents a series of e-mails received from David Hare regarding trash pickup; residents received an email telling them they were not properly cleaning up the site; 30 minutes later, volunteers received an email praising their efforts and explaining the city’s new policies regarding trash pickup.
Reavy knew the person who was cited in police reports as being trafficked in the camp; the girl presented herself as 17 years old; accounts about the two other girls are unconfirmed by Reavy; Asian Mike did not live here; he has a residence somewhere else; he has an apartment; Charles says they called the Field the Jungle; Charles said the papers didn’t mention statutory rape
Reavy notes also that soon after arriving, Officers were coming around regularly; officers came around asking if campers needed help; when the city opened up the Field, began moving people through the camp, the cops disappeared while the number of residents increased;
Reavy notes that the city brought people here, they brought people to the camp from the Jungle; as soon as the Jungle people came down, the residents turned into the bad guys; Don says the UGM told people at the Jungle to move down to the Field; Don had lived in the Jungle for 8 years; Reavy says if we are going to stand together, we will try and form a board reinforced by people from the outside;
Reavy points out that the campers do appreciate what volunteers do in the camp; more and more campers are coming out to clean up; the more volunteers come, the more people will show up; Reavy gives a nice shout out to Cory;
Simon talking about moving forward: Simon says that if the message is we want to fight, then there are people who can stand in solidarity; a lot of stuff people can do; Simon has experience trying to stop the sweeps, he has some suggestions:
- Make signs, contact churches, speak at city council meetings as representatives of the Field
- attend panel discussions at the University of Washington; address negative claims that the city has used against the Field residents; make a stand against the sex trafficking
- speak up and out for yourself
Charles thinking about copying SHARE’s outdoor sights; doing security at the Field;
Reavy says the main problem is keeping this place clean; Simon encourages Reavy to let people know
Cory brings up how the trash is often the fault of people moving through camp for short terms; Tina says the city takes no responsibility for the trash; says people over the summer were bring in tents and setting up for a night, then leaving; making the rest of the camp look trashy; Tina reminds us that the camp is a community; Tina and Reavy were among the original residents; Tina says the porta potties came with a heavy price; they came with a lot of new residents, including weirdos; once again, the community has become safer, people recognize each other’s faces; fewer people just pop up;
Tina used to have a fire pit, people would come and talk, sit around the fire; Tina would talk to people who are coming to the camp, she would screen them informally; we need to figure out how to make a structured system, without structuring it too much; the city has to start taking responsibility for what it’s doing; UGM comes and walks around in the camp, but they are not offering shelter; they do not have a high success rate; they have people sign papers, but that does not make client, despite what UGM or REACH will say;
Tina speaks on the sex trafficking: she says it is a total fabrication; this community was conned by a very sick young lady; she came here from her own free will, she said she was 21, saying she was working at a strip club; the campers believed her; she spoke to a reporter who one time was doing a story on this place; she was active in cleanups, she was part of this community, then she became angry and hit the camp with her real age; there’s a person sitting in jail, facing serious time, and didn’t do anything wrong; she prostituted herself on Aurora, of her own free will;
Asian Mike has been in the jungle for twenty years; the Field has been established for less than a year; his travesties should not be put on the Field; that man has his own history, twenty years, don’t want him affiliated with the camp anymore; we need to get the message out there;
Andre steps up; heard that the camp was going to close down; thinks that it was due to a fire or something; trash here and there; the city has brought down two dumpsters, porta potties; only one porta potties has a seat left; Charles add that people are coming in tagging; there shouldn’t be trash, there are garbage cans;
Charles wants to know if Andre is willing to stay and protest? Simon asks if Andre will go to UGM; Andre points out that he has family here; Andre says he doesn’t want to go; Andre describes a little his home life;
Charles brings up that the camp needs rules and regulations; if not, it will get worse; Andre responds, saying what people can see, creates a problem; Andre can’t speak on the man who the police arrested; says he doesn’t know the person;
Margo brings up whether it would be good to have lights in the camp? Reavy says he spoke with George Scarola about lights; George said he wasn’t sure, then said that if they could figure out a way to make sure the lights wouldn’t be stolen, the city wouldn’t mind putting them up; FAS said they would be opposed to the lights, saying the lights would harm the trees; Reavy’s tired of trying to motivate people who never seem to come out; find out how to get everyone from the camp to participate;
Jon says, it appears that the city’s strategy is to disperse everyone around the city; dispersing folks throughout the city will make a less;
Cory speaks about how the city has turned away every attempt by campers to participate in operating the camp; Reavy says that the Field is the only site that is under FAS administration;
Andre remembers that UGM was bringing people out of the Jungle, promising to drop them off where they wanted to be dropped off; Tina says the city dropped people off here, saying those people would get services, then the city dipped and didn’t provide any service; the city came with a message that they were trying to make the camps permanent; there was no follow up; Andre supports that perspective;
Cory brings up the incident when the UGM and the city came to deliver the porta potties; UGM traced orange lines on the ground, promised to fill in the lines; promised to build a cook tent; Tina says that the city promised to build a building for the campers, nothing happened because of that;
Tina says we need enough attention being drawn to this issue; Tina brings up that you cannot beat a dog out in the street;
General discussion about the timing of any legal fights; two weeks isn’t enough time; police coming around with a flyer doesn’t seem like the proper way to serve an eviction; the same police that served the flyers were the one saying they wanted to help the community; the police that said he would help get connections with housing, also delivered the eviction notice;
Reavy would like to see the numbers about how many people in the field will get an apartment, in order to get up off the streets; at the Field, the residents are in control of their own living space; shelters are no adequate;
Simon speaks about the shelter: there’s the William Booth Shelter, Urban Rest Stop, Peter’s Place and others; Simon says that the shelters are all full, he has regular contact with Night Watch; Simon disputes UGM’s claims that UGM has 50 extra beds; Reavy gives some praise to Peter’s Place;
Reavy points out that the neighborhood is OK with the camp; the neighborhood knows the people in the camp; even up in Pioneer Square, China Town, further south;
Jon is questioning what is the logic behind sweeping people;
Cory says that the city did not gives campers the opportunity to become a sanctioned camp; Reavy says he spoke with George Scarola on it;
Cory mentions that Camp Dearborn was swept in March; how can we avoid it?
Reavy brings up who is the owner is WSDOT; wants to know if WSDOT is OK with us being here
Reavy says 60 or 75 people are still in the camp; Reavy mentions that three weeks ago, the city had planned to do a cleanup party; they did not come to the camp; they didn’t show up to their own party;
We will contact state representatives; Nicole Macri and Frank Chopp; everyone will contact city council members;
Reavy would like us to also mention in contacts the availability of wood chips; also asking for help with the rodents