Saturday, June 21, 2008

Four Sexual Assaults Around the Jungle Already This Month

Well, at least four. You have to assume that a lot of assaults around the Jungle go unreported.

The P-I story.

It's hard to know what to say about this. The attacks occurred around the Jungle, a collection of illegal homeless camps in the greenbelt on the northern slopes of Beacon Hill. There's been a lot of outrage from some citizens lately about the city's efforts to remove all the personal belongings along with the debris (human waste, garbage, drug paraphernalia, etc.) from the area. But the city's shelters can't hold all these people, and many of them don't want to stay in shelters anyway.

I'm not sure what the best way is to express concern that these camps may be helping to create an atmosphere that allows for dangerous drug use and rampant sexual violence. I know that I especially hate waiting for the loathsome 36 across from Jose Rizal Park, where the other waiting passengers are often drugged up and really loud and angry and unpredictable and kind of scary. I used to work up there and had to be extra careful when there was a Jungle rapist on the loose.

But it's uncharitable to want to see the Jungle camps removed until the city provides housing for everyone.

Anyway, I obviously have no solution to offer, so I shouldn't say anymore, lest I open myself up for personal attacks. When Beacon Hill blogger Craig Thompson wrote about the situation in the Jungle for the P-I last December, he got a scathing response from Real Change publisher Tim Harris, who called it "fantasy." When Thompson invited Harris to take a walk there with him to see for himself what Thompson described in the article, Harris said, "I briefly considered accepting your offer just so I could get you alone in the woods so a group of homeless people could kick your ass for denying them the right to survive, but my core beliefs in non-violence rendered that strategy unfeasible."

Everyone should feel free to comment on what's happening around the homeless camps, but please, no threats of violence, even if joking. There's enough real violence going on that comments like that aren't very funny.

2 comments:

Wayne Rennick said...

2 More, at least
Friday night, June 20th, around 11PM a woman was attacked on the Atlantic St stairway just east of 15th. This morning, June 23rd, a woman was attacked and raped in the Dr. Jose Rizal dog park. ( http://q13.trb.com/news/kcpq-062308-dogparkattack,0,7520508.story )

My neighbors and I spoke with an officer from the south precinct last Friday about crime in our neighborhood. He felt there was a correlation between the ban/reduction of encampment sweeps by the city and increased crime, at least along the areas adjacent to the jungle.

Having personally seen and helped clean up some encampments, I can't believe that this is how we, as a society, want people to live. Tim Harris and other activist want the public to believe that the homeless encampments are the same experience that you have when you go backpacking or take the family out to the national forest campground for the weekend. In reality many of these encampments are places you wouldn't wish for anyone to live in, not even your worst enemy.

Let’s work on a solution that makes sense. I believe that this is an issue that is the responsibility of the whole nation, not just Seattle or King County. If the City really spends $40 million a year to prevent and end homelessness, then its time for more money to come from the federal government to help solve the problem of homelessness.

Jennifer said...

Hear, hear, Wayne Rennick!