Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Indians Have Decided.

Just this morning, United Indians of All Tribes was feeling between a rock and hard place over Nickelsville. While Nickelsville organizers have consistently described this organization as "very gracious," public statements of support from UIAT have been as qualified as possible without actually asking them to leave.
"I think there was a misunderstanding," said Marty Bluewater, the foundation's executive director. "The [homeless] group thought the land we occupied for our center might be federal land or land we actually own. When there had been talk in the wind about moving out there, we weren't able to give any permission, as much as we'd like to help."

"Our response at this point is to see how much we can support them and their needs," Bluewater said. "We let them know that we aren't in the position to give that permission. ... We're obviously kind of caught in the middle here. We want to help where we can, but we have partnerships with the city on a number of things."

All the while, Nickelsville leadership has said, "If they ask us to leave, we will."

Now, it doesn't look like that's going to happen. Late this afternoon, UIAT delivered an unqualified statement of support for Nickelsville. One in three Native Americans is homeless, they said. "We intend to intervene," they said. There will be tipis at Nickelsville, for real. It was signed, "in peace and solidarity."

This makes me so happy I can barely stand it.

Anyone who has been on the wrong side of the Nickels administration knows how unpleasant that can be, and how easily and completely access is denied to perceived enemies. I'm sure the past few days haven't been pleasant. But they weighed it out, made their decision, and are standing with the homeless.

Much still rests upon Monday morning's exparte hearing in King County Superior Court, where competing notions of who has a right to do what where will begin to get sorted out.

Meanwhile, a large show of support at Nickelsville on Monday before noon is critical.

I've only heard the document United Indians of All Tribes presented to Nickelsville described third-hand. Someone read it to Revel and Revel told me what she heard. So I'm being a bit vague here. But it sounded to me like the Indians are maybe a little pissed at how the city's been dealing with things.

There was something in there about the city stomping around on their notions of what is sacred. I'm paraphrasing here.

If that's the case, I'm remembering a church in Ballard that, in around 2001, pushed back hard. When threatened with fines and harassment for hosting Tent City, Trinity United Methodist's Reverend Rich Lang went all church and state on their asses, and the city couldn't backpedal fast enough. This marked the beginning of the city's acceptance of a permanent Tent City in Seattle.

Mark Sidran and Mayor Schell tryed to bully the wrong organization. It's not hard to imagine Tom Carr and Mayor Nickels making the same mistake.

—Photo by Revel

9 comments:

Dustin Cross said...

"someone read it to Revel"

wow Tim, I had just spoken with you a few hours earlier. how quickly the elderly forget the names of us punk kids. ;)

Tim Harris said...

I was trying to preserve your plausible deniability.

Danina said...

w00t.

Bill said...

I spoke with Ken Nakatsu, Mayor's office, twice yesterday. He runs the encampment sting apologetic for the Mayor. First time I talked with him was to ask when the Mayor would meet with faith leaders as the Mayor told me he'd do, face-to-face, when I asked him at the CEHKC Legislative breakfast 9/24. He now well-known reply to me was, to a request to meet prior to Friday 9/26, "Absolutely not. I'll meet with you after the camp comes down Friday." So Ken wasn't much help yesterday morning. In the afternoon the N-ville camp called me. Seems the City has escalated this stay at Daybreak Star into a full-blown land use violation, which means wherever it goes next a fine carries with those named as "in violation." The violators are the Encampment Occupants, listed as John and Jane Doe. Then there's SHARE/WHEEL with its details, Vets for Peace, named by chapter, the ITFH with my name and home address, ROOTS, with several Board members/leaders to include Demirel and Bloom, and apparently some org that has the misfortune to have "Share" in its name and is in Vancouver. So I talked to Ken again after hearing that. He played dumber than he is and explained that apparently I am listed because of an email sent Wednesday 10/5 to Bloom regarding the N-ville move that was on the Nickelsville page (checked, can't find it), which (the move) I add humbly neither of us helped with, weren't even there. I proceeded to go over reality with Ken: too little shelter, Seattle's knee-jerk leadership, its attacks on partners in ending homelessness, it's regular shaming of other cities in the region for doing less than Seattle, its failure to perform due diligence on religious land use (Ken had the Palin-like audacity to suggest if N-ville were to move on 10/6 to land owned by the Church Council (he REALLY said this!), the fines and violations would follow all named. That's when I told Ken that Seattle may be the leader (sic) on how much money it gives to the homeless but it is a long ways behind cities in King County who have been in court where they learned about the federal rights accorded religious land use. I suggested perhaps we ought to break the Consent Decree and set up pink tents at a dozen congregations. But I told him, because we know we legally could and haven't, we'd like his recognition of what adult behavior looks like. So, who knows what's next. Seattle continues to think it can intimidate advocates. It is ending advocacy funding for its part, and pushing $$ to housing first, which is a drug for the mayor. He'd do well to learn what it is, cuz he has that Palin-like grasp, you betcha. Of course, Seattle has puniched advocates all along. I truly think Seattle actually hates community organizers. If I lived in Seattle, I'd begin the Mayoral recall petition myself. This leader is as toxic as Bush. If he reads these posts, I'd say, stop amping up the repression and start having civil conversations. Everyone has a lot to learn, including Mayors. To Seattle organized Democrats: Can't you get a grip on this guy? Hold back reelection funds,..something? He makes Dems look every bit as awful as the GOP, and lately he is in his own league. I'm still pushing for conversation. I like butting my head on concrete apparently. What about someone levelling some political wisdomhis way? Takers?

Retromancer said...

Hizzoner is making it quite clear that there will be no new tent cities on his watch. I assume that Nickels can see the economic contraction coming as well as anyone.(Psst, wanna buy a corporate headquarters -- cheap?) He quite probably wishes to be proactive by stopping any tent cities -- or any other responses to the crisis -- before they start. There are a number of events that happened during Schell's tenure that Nickells does not want a repeat of -- see Battle of Seattle. It's all about staying in control...

Bill said...

no surprise there. yet the pink tent pictures are making their way across the country,...the green mayor who is at war with homeless people in pink tents. ironic. a magazine on u.s. cities requested tent city and n-ville pics to include in a national story on cities and tent cities. i'd guess the caption will be "how do we crush tent cities?" yet the very announcing of war on the poor to succeed the long overdue sequel to the war on poverty will not find americans -- under every govt. gun lately -- all that sympathetic since many "regular homeowners" are learning all-too-1st-hand what homelessness is by entering it

Dustin Cross said...

wow...remind me not to get on Bill's bad side.

But on a serious note, does the city really wish to take on the ITFH and the church council?

I would love to see this passed on to more faith leaders. This is total domineering by the city over the church's right to do ministry in accordance with scripture.

Tim Harris said...

I had to look up w00t. It's on-line geek for "hooray." Now I know.

Sally said...

It isn't scripture that gives religious congregations the right to do what they think best; it's a federal law, RLUIPA. However, RLUIPA is usually applied to religious congregations, not necessarily organizations that aren't actual congregations and aren't actually sheltering people on their land. The main factor here is that the City probably has no ground to stand on (unintended pun) in "fining" anyone who doesn't own or lease the land the illegal encampment is on, or is not actively using that land. There's just no legal basis.

The City is now publicly on very weak moral ground (another u.p.) in any persecution of homeless encampments as unnecessary because Human Services manager Alan Painter admitted in an open City Council meeting yesterday that shelters are full. To a direct question on that from a Councilmember, he said yes, they are full, and when they aren't it's only due to special circumstances. Of course, shelter providers have been saying that for months, but they aren't "official" so they've been ignored.

The City of Seattle is Bush Country West. I don't think the City cares a whit about taking on the Church Council or ITFH or any other organization. Nickels runs his administration as he sees fit; it isn't a democracy or a collective. When a group of women aren't allowed to get into an elevator to go up to the Mayor's office to ask for a meeting, you're not dealing with a guy who is subject to reason.