Eight arrested at Tent City 2 in Seattle

Anitra Freeman (anitra@speakeasy.org)
Mon, 6 Jul 1998 23:47:12 -0700 (PDT)


FROM SHARE/WHEEL IN SEATTLE, 7/6/98

Today eight people paid the price for being homeless.  Not murdered alone
under a bridge, but arrested together for living at Tent City 2, a safe
encampment for anyone needing shelter now.

SHARE member Stan Burriss was arrested at 10:30 AM as he watched over
tents, mats, blankets, and personal belongings at the camp while other
SHARE and WHEEL members met with City Council member Peter Steinbrueck,
seeking city support and assistance for the encampment.  When they returned
to a razed site, seven more SHARE and WHEEL members -- Claude Nalls, Don
Smith, Theresa Lafferty, Scott Morrow, Ted Shirey, Tom Howie, and Michelle
Marchand -- set up tents again and refused to leave their home of nearly a
month.  They were arrested at 2:45 PM.

The action took place at the same time as another member of SHARE/WHEEL was
in King County Court seeking an injunction against the city's action,
pending a full court hearing of the rights of orderly encampments to exist
on public lands.  Our position is that the endangerment and harm to
homeless individuals who have no other place to go is urgent enough to
mitigate any municipal ordinance.  There is more harm done to the public
health and safety by breaking up and forbidding safe and orderly
encampments than by allowing them.

The City of Seattle had two attorneys, and SHARE/WHEEL had one non-attorney
representative present.  The motion was dismissed on technical issues, but
without prejudice.  SHARE/WHEEL is free to bring the same injunction again,
and will, when we obtain a pro bono attorney.

The position of the City is that Seattle Municipal Code 18.12.250 prohibits
camping on park property, and the City cannot and will not condone
violation of the law.  It is SHARE/WHEEL's position that an emergency
situation exists when at least 1,000 men, women and children are outside
every night after all shelters are filled.  The City MUST make some
provision for the safety of those outside.  Safe, clean, orderly
encampments on public land are the best solution that we have come up with
for benefit of the city, the neighborhoods, and the homeless.

The City of Seattle is making real efforts to bring everyone inside. We are
waiting to hear how they are going to keep the people outside tonight safe,
now that they have forbidden us to do it ourselves.

SHARE/WHEEL
phone 	448-7889
fax 	448-2389
email	SHARE@canwetalk.com
	WHEEL@canwetalk.com
http://insideshare.hypermart.net/
http://members.tripod.com/~WHEEL98/

This was filed Monday morning, July 6:

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT

FOR THE CITY OF SEATTLE AND KING COUNTY

SEATTLE HOUSING AND RESOURCE EFFORT;
WOMEN'S HOUSING EQUALITY AND ENHANCEMENT LEAGUE;
RESIDENTS OF "TENT CITY 2"

Plaintiffs,

vs.

CITY OF SEATTLE;
CITY OF SEATTLE PARKS DEPARTMENT;
CITY OF SEATTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT

Defendants.

No.  98-2-16225-2SEA

COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY

AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

I. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

1. This is an action by and for the residents of a homeless encampment for
declaratory and injunctive relief against efforts by City of Seattle
officials to disband the encampment, until completion of current efforts to
work with the Seattle City Council and the North Beacon Hill Community
Council to resolve encampment issues.

2. On June 10, 1998, the City of Seattle cleared a homeless encampment area
in the East Duwamish Greenbelt for what it publicly stated were reasons of
public health and sanitation.  On June 10, 1998, the homeless organizations
Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (known as SHARE) and Women's Housing
Equality and Enhancement League (known as WHEEL) raised an encampment on
vacant land beside Jefferson Park and the Beacon Hill Reservoir, for the
refuge of persons displaced from the Greenbelt and other homeless men,
women and families without shelter.

3. After two weeks of negotiations, the Mayor's office ordered that the
tents be removed.  The residents of Tent City 2 voluntarily removed the
tents, and two days later set up another encampment in the East Duwamish
Greenbelt, on vacant land below Jose Rizal Park.

4. On July 2, four days after the encampment was raised below Jose Rizal
Park, Park Department officials delivered 24 hour notice to remove, stating
verbally that they would return on their next official work day, July 6,
and at that time arrest and remove any campers who had not vacated.

5. The residents of Tent City 2 are homeless.  Most of the residents are
not able to get into any other shelter, because the existing shelters are
filled to capacity, or because of special needs not met by existing
shelters.

 6. The homeless encampment known as "Tent City 2" has no detrimental
impact on public health and safety.  Deputy Mayor Tom Byers has publicly
stated that the encampment is clean and orderly.

7.  The Mayor's office has expressed fears that if clean, orderly
encampments are allowed, then unclean, unsafe encampments cannot be
prevented.  The residents of Tent City 2 have formulated a proposal to
allay these fears and are presenting it to the Seattle City Council on
Monday, July 6, 1998.

8.  The Beacon Hill community is divided over support for the encampment.
A special meeting of the North Beacon Hill Community Council has been
scheduled for July 12, 1998, with participation from the residents of Tent
City 2, City of Seattle officials, and Beacon Hill residents, to discuss
homeless encampments and Beacon Hill community policies and solutions.

9.  Disbanding the camp at this point, on July 6, would severely harm the
residents of the encampment.

10.  Disbanding the camp at this point, on July 6, would disrupt the city
and community political processes.

11. Allowing the camp to continue until the current matters before the
Seattle City Council and the North Beacon Hill Council are completed will
not adversely affect the community, the City of Seattle, or the environment
of the Greenbelt.

12. The residents of Tent City 2 have concrete proposals for the Seattle
City Council and the North Beacon Hill Community Council which can be
decided upon in a reasonable period of time.  The injunction period
requested is only for the length of time to allow completion of those
processes.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

13. The members of the homeless encampment known as Tent City 2 are
residents of the City of Seattle.  The Tent City 2 encampment is on land
inside the City of Seattle city limits.  The defendants are officials of
the City of Seattle.  The King County Superior Court has jurisdiction.

PARTIES

14. SHARE and WHEEL are nonprofit organizations with 501(c)3 status, whose
members are currently and recently homeless men and women.  Organizational
policy decisions are made by vote of the general membership.  The only
membership requirement is participation, and all participants are
considered members.

15. The residents of Tent City 2 include men and women who were members of
SHARE and WHEEL before participating in Tent City 2, and those who came to
the encampment and have become members of SHARE and WHEEL by participation
in Tent City 2.   All participants in Tent City 2 are considered members of
SHARE and WHEEL.

16. The City of Seattle is a municipality in King County in the State of
Washington.

17. The Seattle Parks Department is a division of the municipal government
of Seattle.

18. The Seattle Police Department is the law enforcement division of the
municipality of Seattle.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

19. In the City of Seattle 1997-1998 Consolidated Plan for Housing &
Community Development, Page 3-28, the City printed figures estimating that
there were a total of 4,466 homeless individuals in Seattle, 840 beyond
existing shelter capacity.  The gap between number of homeless and existing
shelters has only grown since then, and today estimates of unsheltered
individuals range from 1,000 to 3,200.  Deputy Mayor Tom Byers, on July 3,
quoted figures to the Seattle Times of 4,000 homeless people per night and
3,000 shelter capacity.

20. Deputy Mayor Tom Byers stated in a public meeting of the North Beacon
Hill Community Council on July 13, 1998 that "SHARE/WHEEL are established
organizations and their intent is to create safe, clean emergency shelter
for homeless people.  The encampment is being run with a firm set of rules,
and residents understand that violation of the rules is grounds for
removal.  Police are monitoring the site to ensure that this encampment
does not add a safety risk to the surrounding community."  He has at all
times since that date, in private meetings with SHARE/WHEEL and in public
statements to the press, held to the same stand, that SHARE and WHEEL are
running a safe, clean, orderly encampment, at the original location and at
the present location.

21. Lynn Tucker, Vice President of the South Beacon Hill Neighborhood
Council, said, "I am impressed with the governing system that the Tent City
folks have instituted to ensure the safety of its residents and the
surrounding community..."

22. A spokeswoman for the Seattle Mayor's office stated to the press on
July 10 that the cleanup of the East Duwamish Greenbelt was only for the
purposes of public health and sanitation, and "I doubt that anyone would be
arrested if they did return [to the Jungle].  It's not a secured area.
Anyone can go in there."

23. Seattle City Councilman Peter Steinbrueck met with Tent City 2
residents Thursday July 2 and agreed at that time, and in subsequent
telephone conversations, to put our proposals before the Seattle City
Council on Monday July 6.

24. The North Beacon Hill Community Council has scheduled a public forum on
the Tent City 2 encampment, to include encampment residents, Beacon Hill
residents, and city officials, for July 12.

FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION
Necessity

25. Plaintiffs repeat, reallege and incorporate the allegations contained
in Paragraph 1 through 24 above as though fully set forth herein.

26. The plaintiffs have immediate need for shelter and safety that can only
be met at this time by the encampment known as Tent City 2.  To disband the
encampment at this time would impose undue hardship upon the inhabitants of
the encampment.

SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION
Respect for Civil Processes

27. Plaintiffs repeat, reallege and incorporate the allegations contained
in Paragraphs 1 through 26 above as though fully set forth herein.

28. A Seattle City Councilman, Peter Steinbrueck, is presenting a proposal
from the Tent City 2 residents before the Seattle City Council on July 6,
and our proposal has a practical expectation of being heard.

29. The residents of Beacon Hill have scheduled a public meeting on July 12
to consider proposals by the residents of Tent City 2.   There are many
Beacon Hill residents supporting the encampment and our proposals have a
practical expectation of being considered.

30.  To disband the encampment at this time would disrupt the political and
community processes and frustrate sincere efforts by members of the Beacon
Hill community to solve a community problem at the neighborhood level.

RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request that this Court enter a judgment in its favor
and against Defendants as follows:
A. That this Court issue a declaratory judgment that
1) leeway in applying trespass laws may be allowed in emergency conditions,
and that
2) community decision-making must be allowed time to take place, and not be
disrupted by outside intervention.
B. That the Court issue a temporary injunction against Defendants enjoining
them from arrest of the residents of the camp or removal of their effects
for as long as these conditions shall hold:
1) That the encampment continue to be run in a safe, clean and orderly
manner; and
2) That sufficient shelter or housing for all homeless citizens is not
available; and
3) That the proposals of  the residents of Tent City 2 to the Seattle City
Council and the Beacon Hill Community Council are being actively considered.

___________________________________________
Anitra L. Freeman, member of SHARE and WHEEL
President of the Board of Directors of SHARE
On behalf of the members of SHARE and WHEEL and the Residents of Tent City 2
1902 Second Avenue
Seattle WA 98121
(206) 448-7889

---

A motion was made in Ex Parte Court by Anitra Freeman that the Court grant
a temporary injunction to stop the City of Seattle from arresting Tent City
2 members or removing their effects until the Injunction could be heard in
full Court, on the grounds that clearing the site does cause immediate harm
and endangerment, and letting the site stand does not.  The motion was
denied, partly for technical legal reasons I had not been aware of, not
being an attorney; mainly because I could not legally testify about the
impact on other campers, and they could not testify for themselves because
they were being arrested.

The motion was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that SHARE/WHEEL is
free to bring the suit again, with proper notice and procedures.  We do
plan to do so, as soon as we have obtained a lawyer.  We will continue this
campaign until every man, woman and child in Seattle has a safe, clean
place to sleep -- even when all indoor shelters are full.

It is almost midnight.  The first person arrested, Stan Burriss, has just
been released on his own recognizance.  The other seven are all still in
jail, not even fingerprinted yet.  I'm here at the Real Change office
sending out news, and a SHAE administrator is down at the SHARE office
waiting by the phones.  I've got lots of Mountain Dew, and he has lots of
coffee.  We'll keep you posted.



____________________________
Anitra L. Freeman, for SHARE/WHEEL
Seattle Housing and Resource Effort http://insideshare.hypermart.net/
	SHARE@canwetalk.com
Women's Housing Equality and Enhancement League
http://members.tripod.com/~WHEEL98/
	WHEEL@canwetalk.com
Tent City 2  http://insideshare.hypermart.net/tc2.html