[Hpn] UK Home Sec. Straw buys BIG ISSUE & demands change from HOMELESS
Thu, 11 Jan 2001 09:28:28 -0800 (PST)
Some updates from Seattle:
First, I want to clear up some confusion caused by the media. Tent
Village is not being *forced* to move from El Centro de la Raza on
January 15th or 16th. We have always planned to move by January
16th. Ever since the summer of 1998 we have been asking for "a six
month trial to prove that tent cities work." When El Centro said that we
were welcome to stay there for six months, we declared that we would
stay exactly six months. One of the ways that we shame our critics is by
proving that we keep our word and our commitments.
Weeks ago, someone suggested that since we were going to be moving by
the 16th anyway, wouldn't it be great to make the move on the 15th,
Martin Luther King Day; make a march of it, and remind people of Martin
Luther King's stand for the civil rights of *everyone*, including the
poor and the homeless. When our friends at St Marks told us that they
wouldn't be able to give us space until the 21st, the idea came up to
march down to Martin Luther King Park, and camp there from the 15th to
This idea gained more and more interest within Tent Village over the
last few weeks, but some of the group were concerned about respecting
the black community's own celebration and their memorial to Martin
Luther King, Jr. Others were concerned that with very vulnerable people
in the group, including pregnant women, we would be risking arrest and
even violence for a political statement.
Last night, Tent Village residents met with the Martin Luther King Day
Celebration Committee, which includes King County Council member Larry
Gosset, who has himself consistently been committed to raising community
solutions to the problems of poverty and homelessness. The Committee
voted unanimously that they support Tent City, both in its right to
exist -- the right of homeless people to camp together for safety and
support -- and in Tent City camping in Martin Luther King Park from
Martin Luther King Day until the move to St Marks Episcopal Cathedral on
January 21st. Members of the committee agreed that the Tent City
campaign for the right of homeless people to sleep in safety is one that
Reverend King himself would have supported.
The Beacon Hill Herald, in reporting the pending move of Tent City,
acknowledged that city officials would have "a big public relations
problem" if they used police officers to arrest homeless people for
camping in Martin Luther King Park on Martin Luther King's birthday.
Since our Mayor Schell has created other big public relations problems
for himself in the past -- remember WTO? -- we aren't taking anything
for granted. SHARE and WHEEL have absolutely no intention of subjecting
already vulnerable homeless people to the risk of arrest. We don't
believe we have to go that route this year. If Seattle police *do* move
to arrest the campers, we expect another church to offer an alternate
temporary location. If that does happen, I myself won't regard it as a
loss. I think that when your enemy does something monumentally stupid,
it's an occasion for rejoicing.
Tent City may move many times over the coming months, like Tent City
moved many times from March 31st to July 16th. But Tent City is not
going to shut down. The court campaign will continue, the media
campaign will continue, and 100 people will continue to work together
day to day on surviving -- until the City of Seattle officially
acknowledges that poor people have a right to survive.
And congratulations to Dignity Village in Portland for your own great
Tent City information: http://www.insideshare.org/tentcity/
Write On! / Anitra L. Freeman / http://www.speakeasy.org/~anitra/
"We can't help everyone. We can't fix everything. It hurts.
But it is better to live with pain than to live without caring."