The King County Courthouse is surrounded by homeless people on any given day. Back in April, a King County Councilmember said that it was the worst spot in the city for violent behavior. Citizens are routinely accosted and that it smells so bad because of the public defecation and urination.
In the summer of 2017, a homeless man brandishing a pair of scissors tried to attack King County Sheriff John Urquhart right outside of the courthouse. See the full video of the attempted attack here.
Even judges have stated that it is unsafe around the courthouse. In 2017, two judges described the conditions as “unsanitary” with a “potentially frightening atmosphere.”
Now KIRO7 reports that the weapons that the homeless carry are slipping through the x-ray machine at the courthouse. Apparently the machines are “failing” because they don’t have high-resolution cameras. The machines are also very expensive to maintain. New machines are in the budget for next year.
Some of the items making it through into the courthouse include knives, pepper spray and brass knuckles.
The homeless don’t have any place to store their weapons so apparently they feel it is perfectly acceptable to bring them into a courthouse. It’s not acceptable – it’s against the law and is considered a misdemeanor. I wonder how many homeless people who bring prohibited weapons into the courthouse have actually faced any consequences? That is a rhetorical question, of course.
The homeless situation just by the courthouse/Seattle Times photo
You cannot make this stuff up.
About this council member, Sally Bagshaw:
Served on the council since 2009
Prior to that, she served eight years as Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
Began her legal career as an Assistant Attorney General after graduating from Stanford University and the University of Idaho Law School
Has also served as business and finance lawyer for both Washington State University and University of Washington
From MyNorthwest.com (by Jason Rantz): The area surrounding the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle is dangerous. Crime is rampant. Homelessness is out of control.
It’s not safe to visit as a juror. It’s not safe to work in the buildings nearby. You can’t even walk around the neighborhood without olfactory offenses, human waste everywhere.
The solution? Ping-Pong! Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw says that she’d like to bring a host of amenities to the area as an “inclusive” way to make the area safer. She’d like to see Ping-Pong tables, seating, and food trucks come to the area.
“This could be a place where we bring tables and chairs like we did at Westlake and Occidental,” Bagshaw told KING 5. “When there are places to be, and there’s food, and they can sit, then [the park] gets activated and there’s space for everybody.”
There doesn’t yet seem to be much support for the idea, certainly not from people most familiar with the area. “Playing Ping-Pong isn’t any more of a diversion than placing Volleyball nets up,” one Seattle police officer told me.
Indeed, this area has seen a remarkable amount of a crime. Former King County Sheriff John Urquhart was confronted by a homeless man with a knife. Things got so bad several months ago — with jurors and a half dozen courthouse employees being assaulted — that two judges spoke out.
Crime aside, the area smells of human feces and urine. Take a stroll through the blocks surrounding the courthouse and you’re likely to see someone using the nearby park or a random sidewalk as a toilet. Could you imagine eating a grilled cheese from a nearby food truck in a neighborhood like this?
Bagshaw says other nearby areas have benefited from the amenities she’s talking about. She points to Occidental Park, which has seen a decrease in the types of behavior we experience near the courthouse. She’s right, we have, but the context is so remarkably different. It makes a comparison a bit disingenuous because, she claims, her move wouldn’t displace the homeless folks who are near the courthouse for services.
Occidental Park is surrounded by businesses catering to tens of thousands of people visiting the area for Sounders, Seahawks, and Mariners games. During game days, they absolutely displace the homelessness population. And they don’t have to be there for access to services. The courthouse? They need to be in that spot for access to the services provided. And does Bagshaw realize many of the people who are living on the street and committing these acts of violence are living with an untreated mental illness or addiction? Access to a Ping-Pong table won’t stop them from acting out; treatment would.
Perhaps — and stay with me here as I’m about to unveil a radical and controversial idea — we continue to increase police presence and — wait for it — enforce the law.
People feel inherently unsafe when you let crime and homelessness envelop a neighborhood. Perhaps the council should give officers the green light to actually do their job and we can, for once, stop the shouts for affordable housing and, instead, call for treatment on demand? No, it’s not as fun as Ping-Pong, but it might actually save lives.