Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oscar's Got Your Stuff

It's worse than I thought. Just when I thought the City of Seattle has reached its lowest low in regard to their homeless sweeps policy, they've found a way to do me one better. Two displaced homeless campers went to the Westbridge storage facility this morning to retrieve their possessions, accompanied by a small delegation of suporters. There was an advocate, a lawyer, and an RCOP member who helped break this story last fall by documenting various illegalities involved in an early round of Kinnear Park and lower Queen Anne greenbelt sweeps.

It helps when advocates bring people to get their stuff, since the storage facility is about 10 blocks from the nearest West Seattle bus stop, only open a few days a week for a few hours at a time, and requires a valid state ID to get your possessions. There's also the matter of finding the right storage facility. If your camp is swept by the State Department of Transportation, your stuff is taken to a different site. This, of course, is a secret to those who might attempt to brave the various obstacles in the way of retrieving their belongings. It seems the City is less than committed to making things easy for people. Then there's the issue of whether your stuff might actually be there.

Those who have been following the sweeps issue closely may have noticed that the City has made much of the twenty-one tons of debris that were cleared from the lower Queen Anne greenbelt during last weeks media event/homeless sweeps. Presumably the bulk of this was composed of rotted food, human feces, bottles of urine, and hypodermic needles, since this was what most of the media — taking their lead from the Goebbelsesque City propaganda mill — saw fit to report. Joseph Goebbel's, for the benefit of the history-challenged, was the Nazi spin-meister who once said:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
But I digress. Have you ever thought about just how much "21 tons" is? That would be 42,000 pounds. This is the equivalent of seven Hummers, or, if you prefer, fourteen Priuses. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that twenty-one campsites were cleared from this greenbelt last week. This would mean that campers from each site, over time, brought in 2,000 pounds of crap each. Who are these superhuman homeless people?

You might think, after such a major clearance, that the storage facility might be filling up. You would be wrong. The delegation to Westbridge found shelves that were largely bare. The entire Queen Anne Greenbelt clearance, with its 21 tons of "debris," yielded just one BB gun and a bike. That's all that was saved. One BB gun. One bike.

I reported here recently that a parks employee told me there were three bags of "personal items" saved from the site I watched get cleared last week. The delegation asked where these might be. Apparently, these bags arrived in a dampened state, and the decision was made to throw these away after all. So nothing from that site was saved. I don't recall a "dampness contingency" loophole in the protocols, but apparently these protocols have loopholes they haven't even invented yet. They just make them up as they go along.

There is a happy side to this story. One of the bikes had a flat tire and some other broken parts. The workers at the storage facility fixed it for the owner. Another man came to the storage facility in search of the work tools that the City of Seattle stole from him. These were deemed trash and thrown away as well. The Westbridge workers took him to their tool room and gave him what they could to replace what was lost.

This, to me, is a hopeful sign. The City's urge to break and destroy the lives of the most desperate is far from monolithic. There are those who, despite the poor behavior of their employer, still possess human decency.

The Westbridge delegation was told that the City knows they have a problem, and will now train their workers in the specifics of the protocols. Given the utter absence of City accountability, I'm a bit cynical as to the difference this will make.

In other news, Kinnear Park has now officially been posted for sweeps three times. Under the recurrent campsite clause of the City's protocols, permanent posting will occur after the next round of sweeps, rendering the application of protocols null and void in this area. No notification will be required. No services will be offered. No possessions will be saved.

I was projecting 3-6 months before the first major area was marked for gloves-off sweeps. I underestimated the evil of which these fucks are capable, and that is truly frightening.

Perhaps this is why the Westbridge storage facility is so pathetically out of the way, understaffed, and underutilized. They really don't intend to be using it for long


Sally said...

It is dangerous to compare anything with the Shoah -- the Holocaust -- but after reading the Goebbels quote and Tim's last words I couldn't help thinking about the actions of the Nazis in the ghettos in Poland close to the time they were finally shut down. The Nazis forced the Jews to form kehillat, community organizations, and used the kehilla functionaries as tools against their neighbors. The functionaries thought they would be saved by that work. But eventually, they realized that their work was not really needed, and thus they also were in danger, and they were right. I thought of that when I read the sentence about the storage place, "They really don't intend to be using it that long." That's the most ominous sentence I've read in a long time.

The rulers of Seattle are doing something awful, and we don't know what they'll do next. In those circumstances, it's hard not to make connections to past outcomes that are almost too horrific to remember.

Bill said...

I can understand taking the BB gun,... these workers were told ahead of time that they ought consider any weapons found as "concealed." They were likely also asked to take all plastic water bottles, scruff out evidence of beach fires that were started inland, and they probably had to bottle all the dangerous ozone. probably took that to Bellevue.