Seattle City Hall encampment sweep thwarted by advocates

SEATTLE — Two homeless encampments across from Seattle City Hall were supposed to be cleared away. However, they’re still standing after advocates for homeless people prevented city workers from moving in.

Sunday was supposed to be moving day for two encampments on 4th Avenue between James and Columbia Streets. But the Seattle Protest Network made good on its threat to stop it.

There was even a fire at that encampment before it was to be removed. That was just before 6:30 Sunday morning. No one was injured.

A couple of hours later, city workers arrived to remove the encampments. But they were thwarted by activists who have been here all day.

“There were quite a few people that stood in front of the tents to fight for us,” said a smiling Andria Guttierez-Badgier. “They were willing to actually go to jail for us.”

The encampment resident watched as the activists, whose stated purpose is to “Stop The Sweeps,” stood in the way of city workers who had come to clear out the encampment.

“Fighting for us,” said Guttierez-Badgier. “Fighting for those who don’t have, basically, a strong enough voice to say ‘hey, we need the help, too.’”

The city said in a statement Friday that as of Feb. 11, the new HOPE Team System Navigators had removed a dozen encampments across the city.

On Friday, workers cleared out this notorious corner at 12th and Jackson that has scared several business owners into putting up stakes to form a fence.

Before daybreak Sunday, a fire broke out at one of the encampments even before the workers could arrive. A resident, who identified herself only as “Bloo,” said the fire happened at her tent.

“My tent was burnt down over there this morning by a young girl that I let come inside the tent to warm up,” Bloo said.

She says what she and others here need is something they insist the city has not offered — a place to stay.

“A lot of people who are out here in the streets, believe it or not, are from different states at times,” said Bloo. “And they’re some are even out of prison. So, it’s hard for people to find housing.”

Her tent mate, who identified herself as “Lady V,” agrees.

“Why can’t they just put us into permanent housing or a motel,” said Lady V. “That way they won’t see us out in these streets anymore on the sidewalk.”

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has pledged to find encampment residents housing, treatment and the help they need to get off the streets.

KIRO 7 has been in touch with his office today.

But his office has not said what the next step with these encampments will be.