Homeless advocates criticize city on eve of another encampment sweep

The message to the Seattle City Council was clear.

"We, the homeless and formerly homeless men and women," said Sean Smith of Share/Wheel, "call for a moratorium on the present sweeps and unsanctioned Seattle's homeless encampments."

It came from a handful of activists, upset they say over the city's sweeps of homeless encampments such as the one under the West Seattle Bridge.

"Every bed and mat we have, over 100 now, is full," said Courtney O'Toole. "Every day, we have to turn away literally dozens of people, many of these people who have been swept."

"I'm sorry that I'm yelling at you, City Council," said Simon Stephens of StopTheSweeps.org, "because really, the culprit here today is Mayor Ed Murray who's too good to come down from the high tower."

In just a few hours, the city plans to remove this encampment that remains under the West Seattle Bridge.

Just last Thursday, a ferocious fire engulfed two RV's underneath the bridge. The fire was ruled an accident but it brought into sharp relief the potential danger to the structure and to those who live here.

"That's the motivation they're using now to remove us," said Rebecca Massey. Massey says she returned to live under the bridge after being swept eight months ago. And she remains skeptical of the city's intentions.

"We asked for extinguishers and for port-a-pottys and for dumpsters," said Massey. "Because they were going to allow us to live there for a little bit longer before that fire happened.

She says the fire extinguishers were never delivered.

Nevertheless, the city is continuing with its plan to remove them.  And officials will likely give it the same treatment as the encampment removed last week.  Now a fence and no trespassing signs are there instead.