2016.10.16 - The City Raids Again...
The photos below show an area that had about 10 or 12 campers in about 6 or 8 different tents before last Tuesday's sweep. This area was very orderly and neat before the city came through. Under the guise of a clean up mission the city sweeps people and spreads trash. The city takes things that are in use and turns them into trash. They sabotage tents and harass campers. When one camper who lost nearly everything he had in the sweep was asked "how long have you lived here?" he answered back that he had been living there for 2 years. The man that asked the question responded sharply by saying "thats two years too long."
Look over these images. They look like photos of a war zone. These are the residences of human beings. The residences of our neighbors. One of our friends in the jungle mentioned to me yesterday that they wished the people conducting these sweeps could see that there is not much more than a paycheck or two seperating their lifestyles. You find yourself living paycheck to paycheck and then something happens. Suddenly there just isnt enough. I don't know about you, but I have only ever lived paycheck to paycheck. This particular camper and his partner are both clean. They cant stay in shelters together because they are unmarried. Even if they could stay together in shelters they would likely choose to continue camping on their own. They have been leaders in other camps they have been in and they have choosen to stay where they can camp on their terms. They would like to get into a housing program but it has to be flexible to accomidate instead of punish.
Above slideshow photos taken on 2016.10.15
2016.10.15 - Tuesday, October 11th - RECAP
Last Tuesday the Jungle was swept. Tent City Collective and Stop The Sweeps met up at 7AM a couple blocks away from where the agencies conducting the sweep were staging and holding a press conference. We marched in and did our best to disrupt the press conference. The police presence was strong, and a very large number of campers had already been intimidated into leaving.
They began sweeping in an area known as the Caves under I-5. The entire designated sweep zone was off limits according to officers, but we managed to get in ahead of SPD and Union Gospel Mission's outreach team. We saw a couple campers and warned them that the police were coming to sweep and generally observed conditions. When we reached the north end of the caves the police were close behind us so we got out and went back to the street. This was while TCC folks continued to demonstrate and chant.
Once the press conference was over we contacted our friends that live near the very northern limits of the Jungle that got notices of the sweep. With their permission we brought 4 members of TCC with us to meet them and together we all helped them move their camp to an area that was not yet posted to be swept. By mid afternoon we had moved the large portion of their camp and they told us they would like to finish moving on their own. Many of our friends' neighbors said they either did not want help moving or just did not want to move, and we heard the next day that many of their neighbors were swept. Some people from that camp lost their shelter and everything that they owned because they were away working at their jobs, like the rest of us.
12 hours after our original meet up we had a gathering at Mayor Murray's house. Food Not Bombs brought food to offer to the mayor and anyone else who wanted it, we brought chalk to leave messages on the sidewalk, and everyone else brought great attitudes and ideas. This was a perfect way to end the night. The mayor didn't come out and talk to us, and that's his loss because he missed a hell of a dinner party.
Photo taken on 2016.10.11 at Mayor Ed Murray's house, Seattle
2016.10.08 - The Cruelty of Sweeps
The cruelty of sweeps is largely unknown to the housed residents of Seattle, but to the unhoused it is a constant threat. Being swept means having police or contractors come and force you to move without giving you any real solution. Being swept means having all your belongings thrown into the trash. Being swept means going from having very little to having nothing. Being swept means not knowing where you will sleep, or if you will make it through the night.
While speaking with the unhoused at a meeting last week we heard about a scenario that we felt we had to share. A camper told us to imagine getting a notice that your residence was going to be swept. You would like to avoid being swept but there is nowhere else to go. You wait. The date on the notice comes and passes. You begin to breathe again. You leave the camp to find work. You spend 12 hours digging a ditch and come back to your camp worn out and exhausted just to find that your tent is gone. Everything you depend on to survive is gone.
It is scenarios like this that make it clear to us that the only sides you can take on sweeps are either the side of humanity or the side of inhumanity. We choose humanity. Until better options for housing and residence are available we choose to help defend our sisters' and brothers' residences exactly where they are. It is time to stop blaming the unhoused for existing in a city where less and less can afford to live and time to start building communion between all residents, housed and unhoused alike.
2016.10.08 - Winter is Coming!
Many unhoused in Seattle have very few means of staying warm and dry at night, and in the harsh Washington winters, many will become ill and unable to work, and some will even die for lack of sufficient shelter and care. But, the sweeps will go on, and the city and state will continue to trash what little they have, making it even harder for them to survive in already dangerous conditions.
Photo taken on 2016.10.06 at Peter's Place, Seattle