Seattle, WA. Feb 26th 2017 – At an emergency meeting, residents of ‘The Field of Dreams’, a homeless encampment located at 747 S. Royal Brougham Way, declared their intention to oppose an eviction scheduled for March 7th by the city. Residents demand time to address concerns raised by Mayor Ed Murray’s public safety advisor and expressed dismay over the city’s decision to plan an eviction before a public assessment of the site’s social, health and public safety conditions is completed.
Residents and supporters met at the Field’s community tent on Sunday to address the health and public safety concerns described by Scott Lindsay in a February 24th e-mail to city council members. Residents defended their ongoing efforts to reduce violence in their community. They denied accusations that the camp fostered the perpetration of any sexual crimes. The alleged perpetrator is not a member of their community, they asserted. They also have informal means intended to block the entry of perpetrators into their camp but have begun communicating their disapproval more widely. The rapid influx of unknown “pop-up” campers was cited as residents’ primary security concern.
According to the residents, their immediate community is their best form of protection and their most valuable resource. They feel that the city’s intention to clear their encampment represents a direct threat to their safety and see remaining at the site as the only way to ensure their community survives. They also contest the city’s claim to have adequate shelter space for an estimated 60-75 residents.
In his e-mail, Lindsay described efforts by city agencies to connect with campers. Residents say that outreach workers are rarely seen at the encampment. More often than not, outreach workers are responsible for bringing new campers to the site than finding housing for existing residents. Lindsay’s e-mail also pointed out public safety and fire prevention concerns. While claiming urgency, city officials have been aware of the same issues since September 14th and since then have remained unresponsive to repeated requests by campers for help in addressing them (09/14/16 @ 22:00; 12/14/16 @ 2:06:45; 01/17/17 @ 1:40:00).
So long as the city was able to move the targets of its sweeps to the Field of Dreams, it voiced no concerns over how the camp was run. Nor did it provide resources to the original residents who have been tasked with taking care of literally hundreds of new arrivals. Ultimately, the city has caused the problem that it is now attempting to sweep it under the rug. Now, residents suspect that it is their organizing efforts that the city is targeting.
Campers are preparing legal challenges to the City’s plan, they are mobilizing political contacts in the city council and state legislature, and are addressing ways to continue improve public safety and hygiene at the camp internally.
Reavy Washington 1-253-733-8660
Cory Potts 1-206-963-9584