SEATTLE — Vandals smashed the windows and city cars at a Seattle Parks and Recreation office building in downtown Seattle. The people behind the damage also left a spray-painted message, “You sweep, we strike.”
Chandra Jamerson lives nearby and says she heard a commotion and loud banging. She said she saw two vandals with a crowbar smashing windows.
“At first, it was only two men all dressed in black, with hoodies, banging on these windows,” Jamerson said. She says she and a neighbor called police.
“The message they left on the side made me think it was connected to the homeless,” Jamerson said. “That was a pretty intense message, so they meant business.”
The Parks department office is located at Denny Park near John Street and Dexter Ave N. The department’s role during camp removals is to clear out the tents and trash once folks are gone.
Jamerson says it was dark when the crime happened Saturday night, but the area was still very busy.
“People were out walking around everywhere, we’re next to the Space Needle so they were really bold,” Jamerson said. She said the vandals also smashed three Parks and Rec vehicles usually parked next to the building.
“They really messed those cars up,” she said.
Homeless advocate Tim Emerson, with “We Heart Seattle,” said he was taken aback when he heard about the destruction. The group is a civilian-run grassroots group that cleans up trash around camps and helps people who are unhoused get services.
“I was angry. I don’t understand why we can’t all work together for a cleaner, safer Seattle,” Emerson said.
He says the city’s efforts to clear out homeless camps in parks and on sidewalks are disrupting the unhoused.
“A lot of my houseless friends are worried about being swept and where they’ll go each time,” Emerson said. But he believes there is also a benefit to the clearouts.
“I think the sweeps help personally, it motivates a person to take the resources out there,” he said. On Wednesday, Emerson said he was helping someone who had been moved from his camp multiple times to take steps to get housing.
But he says the vandalism isn’t helping anyone.
“It doesn’t make sense to me. And most the people that I work with are in the same boat. They don’t understand it. The houseless community are very confused about who’s trying to help,” Emerson said.
In a statement, Mayor Harrell called the vandalism “wholly unacceptable.”
Harrell said in part:
“These employees are in positions to help people. In the first quarter of this year, the Unified Care Team has referred more than 300 people to shelter, helping make a tangible difference in the lives of the most vulnerable. These are important steps for supporting neighbors and restoring lives – a pathway to services, housing, and progress. This Unified Care Team is also responsible for storing and delivering belongings, removing litter, remediating RVs, cleaning up distressed areas, and making public spaces accessible for all.
“This kind of vandalism is wholly unacceptable – it does nothing to help people move out of homelessness and into shelter with services. It does nothing to restore parks, playfields, and public spaces. The way to make change is to engage, not to drive division. In One Seattle, we work together with shared values toward sustainable solutions. Our administration and employees will continue with that mission to address the homelessness crisis urgently and compassionately.”
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