ALERT: Homeless Human Rights Abuses Continue in Seattle, WA, USA!

Tom Boland (
Thu, 20 May 1999 23:39:40 -0700 (PDT)

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S VIEWS, News, Alerts, Actions & Research
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Seattle activists, please send updates on efforts to oppose
and/or amend the Parks Exclusion Law to <HPN@ASPIN.ASU.EDU>

You can read replies to this and other HPN threads this month at

FWD  Fri, 14 May 1999 11:54:48 -0700 (PDT)
From: (Seattle Displacement Coalition)


We need your help!  Your E-Mails Are Needed Now To All City Councilmembers

The Seattle City Council has received a veritable Blitz of E-Mails From
the Sidran Forces (the bigots, racists, elitists, and other exclusionary
forces) out there in the neighborhoods who oppose Nick Licata's efforts to
Repeal Anti-Homeless Portions of Parks Exclusion Law.  They need to
hear from us. We urge you to please e-mail all of the City
Councilmembers as soon as you can at the following e-mails and pass
this message on to those on your own e-mail lists if you can.  You can
make a difference on this one. (and come to the hearing on this critical
matter next thurs. 6:30 PM  see below for more details!!). 

E-Mail and tell them to repeal the parks exclusion law because it targets
the poor, homeless, and people of color.  It gives police broad power to
kick the homeless out of our parks for the simple reason that they have
no where to go!  Help us stop this human rights abuse that occurs right
here in our own city - in "liberal" Seattle.  Your e-mail really can make
a difference here!
e-mail all of the following in this order:

See below for more details about the upcoming hearing on Thurs. May
20th and the May 19 Real Change event and for more information on
this critical issue.  call us at 632-0668 for more information.
Final City Council
Hearing on the Parks
Exclusion Law!
Licata schedules hearing and final vote to repeal/amend law
(Your attendance will determine if we can get rid of this onerous anti-
homeless law)
May 20th, Thurs, 6:30 PM, City Council Chambers, 11th
Floor Municipal Building - 600 4th Avenue (be there 30 minutes
early to sign up for testimony)
Hundreds of homeless have been targeted with this law in just nine
months since its passage.  It's worse than the no-sitting law and must be
repealed.  Councilmember Nick Licata has agreed to revisit it and hold
this hearing on the 20th with a final vote later in the Month (May 26th
in his Culture, Arts, and Parks Committee 2:00 PM) If we have a large
turnout and lots of you testifying, and lots of letters to the City Council,
we have a real chance of repealing it!
The Parks Exclusion Law gives police and even parks personnel broad
authority to bar people from our parks for up to one year (although
usually they issue repeated 7-day evictions, because this does not give
the homeless time to appeal them.) Oover 1500 exclusion orders have
been issued, and while they may be issued for any prohibited park
activity, about 50 percent of the exclusions were issued to homeless
people, usually for "trespass", camping out, and sleeping in our parks. 
streets on any given day, but only 2300 shelter beds available each night.
The ACLU also indicates that people of color have been singled out,
receiving over 43 percent of all expulsions, twice the percentage of
minorities in our city.  If the homeless cannot sleep in our parks, just
where are they supposed to go?

If you care about protecting the civil rights of the poor, you must call or
write councilmembers today!  And get your organization to call for
repeal of this law!  And please come and testify!

FWD  Seattle Times Local News - Wednesday, May 19, 1999


Linda Keene
Seattle Times staff reporter

     When the rights of one group collide with another, laws are
introduced, debated, enforced and tweaked. So it goes with an ordinance
that bans some people from Seattle parks.

     Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata wants to dilute the law, saying it
has a disproportionate impact on the homeless and minorities, and it has
jailed people unjustly for long periods of time.

     Seattle police, park officials and some residents disagree, saying the
ordinance has made parks more orderly and safe - protecting the rights of
park users against uncivil and criminal behavior.

     A public hearing is scheduled tomorrow night to debate proposed
amendments to the Parks Enhanced Code Enforcement Ordinance. It will be at
6:30 p.m. in the Seattle City Council chambers in the Municipal Building.

     "This has had a devastating impact on people of little means," said
Licata's aide, Lisa Herbold.

     The ordinance, in effect for almost two years, allows police, park
officials and animal-control officers to banish anyone from a park for
engaging in unlawful activities, such as drinking, camping, using drugs or
weapons, indecent exposure or walking dogs off-leash.

     The first offense is typically punished by a seven-day exclusion from
the park, or other parks in a surrounding zone; the second is a 90-day
banishment. Three offenses in one year mean exclusion from all city parks.

     Records from the first year show that 53 percent of the people were
banished for drinking and 22 percent for camping or trespassing. Forty
percent of those excluded were minorities - twice the citywide average.

     Licata's proposed amendments to the ordinance would "limit the impacts
on communities of color and the homeless," said Herbold, who noted that
most of the exclusions - 65 percent - occurred in downtown parks where
homeless tend to congregate.

     Seattle police don't want the law changed. Lt. Ted Jacoby said the law
has helped officers deal with repeat violators in parks.

     "People argue that this is just another tool for cops to pick on
people who are already downtrodden," he said. "In fact, that argument
doesn't hold up intuitively or statistically."

     Jacoby said most of the exclusions were for drug violations, weapons,
fighting and alcohol abuse.

     Park officials agree. Crew chiefs have seen a "noticeable decrease in
vandalism and graffiti - the nuisance sort of things," said Dewey Potter,
spokesman for the Department of Parks and Recreation.

     Others argue the law is too narrowly directed at the homeless.

     Carol Ellerby, staff attorney with the Seattle/King County Public
Defender Association, said she represents a Native-American man who has
already been in jail 10 days for criminal trespassing based on an exclusion
notice he received when he was in a Denny Regrade park with three unopened
cans of malt liquor. He was not intoxicated.

     "It's outrageous," she said of the law. "If a Belltown resident was
walking through the park with a bottle of wine in his pack, no officer
would stop him. I think this law is directed at the homeless - to move them

      Lisa Daugaard, another attorney with the Public Defender Association,
said she represented a Somali man who was illiterate in his own language
and in English when police arrested him last August. He had been excluded
from a park, and was in a different park when he saw police ticketing
someone else for drinking, Daugaard said.

     The man approached the officers to tell them he was not drinking, she
said. Police did a check on his name and discovered he'd been excluded from
another park and was in violation of the exclusion law. He went to jail for
two weeks.

     "I think this law makes it criminal to be homeless and to choose to be
in a park," she said.


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