Monday, February 18, 2008

Another Secret "Policy"

Apparently, the Washington State Department of Transportation has some new draft protocols for clearing homeless encampments. Real Change has seen WSDOT campsite clearances as recently as last week performed with storm trooper-like gusto and no notice, and what appeared to be unbadged cops and unmarked cars. Personnel performing the clearances were told not to talk and the only thing the guy in charge would say was "no questions."

We've been told that there are linkages between WSDOT and city action and policy, but we've yet to find what those are. We're still working on getting the draft policy.

Many will remember Isaac Palmer, the man who died during a WSDOT clearance project early last June. Palmer was in a sleeping bag beneath some blackberry brambles when a brush clearing machine inflicted fatal head injuries. His death occurred at a time when campsite clearances by the city were escalating. While the WSDOT task was to rejoint a stretch of I-5, this came connected to a full-scale campsite clearance project of their own.

Now another transient has died on a WSDOT project, although the details of this are still extremely unclear.

Heavy machinery keeps running over homeless people. If people had better survival alternatives, maybe this wouldn't be happening.

The idea of there being a regional strategy on campsite clearances raises some interesting questions about where this stuff is coming from. Suddenly, homeless people are not to be tolerated. They can live in the shelters, if they can get in. Otherwise, it's open season.

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