Seattle councilman votes to defund police – then blames cops for not taking care of homeless encampments

SEATTLE, WA- Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis is blaming the Seattle Police Department (SPD) for their lack of attention in handling the city’s exploding homeless problem, however he specifically voted to block SPD from handling those exact issues. 

After three recent raids in tent communities where the police confiscated many drugs and weapons, leading to more than a dozen people being arrested, Lewis tried to point his finger at SPD and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan when he was asked about long-term solutions to homelessness taking over Pioneer Square.

According to reports, long before the raids dismantled the criminal enterprise hiding under some of the tents, at least three business owners trying to stay afloat in the area said they have been begging the city to intervene for months, but nothing has been done.

Pioneer Square business owner Laura Zeck said:

“Homelessness can happen to anybody; the additional criminal element makes it completely out of hand.”

She added:

“I’m looking around for other spaces.”

Main Street Gyros owner Hamza Albadan said:

“I think we got to be out of business soon.”

Gallery Frames owner Daniel Carrillo added:

“I’m thinking about it right now, but I have a lease.”

All three business owners said that the cycle of crime associated with some of the tent communities makes them want to move out of Pioneer Square.

Carrillo said:

“I guarantee you in a couple of weeks time there will be more tents.”

When the Q13 Fox News asked Lewis about what, if any, long-term solutions the city has in response to address the problem, he claimed that the failure was on the part of the SPD and Mayor Durkan.

He said in a statement:

“You will have to talk to the police department or the mayor on what the long-term strategy is going to be in that corridor.”

He also said that he would like to see the “Just Care” program renewed and expanded. It is a new program that was aimed to reach out to the homeless and provide them with wrap around services.

However, according to SPD spokesperson Sergeant Randy Huserik, Lewis is more responsible for the current state of Pioneer Square than he is letting on.

Huserik said in a statement:

“For him to turn around and put that back on the Seattle Police Department is a little puzzling. It’s a little puzzling based on the fact that he was one of the people who voted to abolish and defund the Navigation Team.”

Reportedly, the Navigation Team would pair police and social workers together to engage with the homeless population as a path to wrap-around services.

According to the city’s website, SPD personnel and outreach workers would connect the homeless with resources and housing opportunities. 

Back in 2017, the city wrote:

“This team has advanced certification in crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques that lend themselves to the daunting tasks of reaching those most in need. The purpose of the team’s approach is to bring more people inside and create faster resolutions to hazardous situations.”

Over the summer of 2020, the Seattle City Council opted to defund the Navigation Team unit in order to block police from working with homeless populations.

They claimed that they had planned to have other organizations handle those issues, but the Pioneer Square-area business owners said that has not been happening at all.

They said that they have not seen anyone working with the homeless in the encampments that are now blocking the sidewalks outside of their shops.

They want to know how tents are allowed to block sidewalks for such long periods of time and what department is supposed to be in charge of that issue.

Huserik said:

“Other city agencies are now incumbent on dealing with those issues. That’s still falling on encampment and homeless community, the city council expressed that they don’t want Seattle police to get involved.”

Given Lewis’ knowledge of the situation, it is unclear why he proceeded to blame the SPD and mayor for the growing problem. On Friday, February 26th, the mayor’s office followed up with a statement claiming the situation is complex.

The statement added:

“There’s no single department that makes the call for removals of tents or obstructions, rather the decision is made collectively.

Interdepartmental department teams meet regularly to assess the need to remove vacant tents, obstructions, litter, and public dumping. Requests come in from a number of different sources, including through the Customer Service Bureau and the Find it Fix it app.”

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It’s happening again: Armed Antifa supporters and activist group take over hotel and demand housing for homeless

February 1st, 2021

OLYMPIA, WA- Shortly before noon on Sunday, January 31st, nearly 35 activists with the group known as “Oly Housing Now,” occupied the lobby and 17 rooms at the Red Lion Inn.

According to The U.S. Sun, the group, alleged to be Antifa supporters, took over the hotel to demand it be used to house the homeless. They reportedly booked the rooms for homeless people from nearby encampments and planned to stay until the county committed funds for permanent housing.

Journalist Andy Ngo tweeted that the Red Lion Inn had been taken over by Antifa. He wrote:

“Protesters confront police in Olympia, Wash. after they arrest the #antifa who sieged a Red Lion hotel. Police are making arrests.”

Video on social media shows a line of officers outside the hotel trying to keep the angry mob at bay. One woman can be heard shouting, “(expletive) your sister, (expletive) your wife. I hope you all (expletive) die. Rest in piss!”

Authorities said that they started receiving phone calls from hotel employees around 11am on Sunday, January 31st. Terrified employees said that the group was dressed in black and carrying batons and knives. 

Police were told that the “mob of people wearing black” had entered the lobby and demanded them to open rooms. Reportedly, one employee was assaulted trying to stop part of the mob from entering the lobby, while about seven to eight other employees hid in a basement room.

After officers cleared the hotel, 12 people were arrested. Lt. Paul Lower of the Olympia Police Department said that his officers were going floor-to-floor adding:

“We’re still processing the building and anticipate more arrests to come.”

Mayor Cheryl Selby condemned the protest as “unproductive” and said it would not help solve the problem of homelessness in the city. In a city statement, Selby said:

“Making sure out unhoused residents have access to safe and affordable housing has been Olympia’s priority for more than a decade now. Olympia has led on responding to the homelessness, on coordinating shelter, and other basic needs. The tactics used today by Oly Housing Now are unproductive and won’t make the mission more attainable.”

Now, Oly Housing New claims that they want Thurston County to apply for funding that is being offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pay for “non-congregate” shelter for people who are 65+ or have pre-existing health conditions that put them at an elevated risk for COVID-19 complications.

Emma Deitz an organizer of the group said in a statement:

“We’re just ready to stand our ground. We don’t mean any harm. We actually want this hotel to get business.” 

She added:

“So, they’re going to get the FEMA funds and the rooms are going to be occupied by people who need them. So, it’s a win-win. The funds are there; the county just has to apply for it.”

Deitz said that they purchased 17 hotel rooms for homeless people from nearby encampments and plan to stay until the county commits funds for permanent housing. 

Deitz said that Oly Housing Now is a new group with about 40 members that formed for this specific action. Keylee Marineau, the Homeless Coordinator for Thursday County, said she went to the hotel and talked with the organizers. She said:

“We’re actively pursuing avenues to understand how the homeless-specific funds for FEMA work.”

Reportedly, there are already several homeless families staying in the hotel. Family Support Center, a local nonprofit that runs a shelter for homeless families, currently provides special vouchers funded by Thurston County Public Health and the United Way.

These vouchers come from federal grants tied to COVID response, including the CARES Act and Emergency Solutions Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

Executive Director Trish Gregory confirmed to The Olympian, via text, that the organization has 27 families staying at several hotels, including the Red Lion Inn. he wrote in a text:

“Family Support Center is currently spending approximately $80,000 per month to provide hotel rooms to families with children who otherwise would be forced to sleep outdoors.”

Around 6:30 p.m., on Sunday, January 31st, a large contingent of law enforcement, including Thurston County SWAT, closed off Capitol Way near the hotel.

The group of hotel employees who fled into a room in the basement of the hotel after the activists entered the hotel earlier in the day, were safely removed from the building Lt. Lower also said that the city’s crisis response unit was on scene and ready to help those who may need housing.

Biden orders full assessment of ‘domestic violent extremism’ in wake of Capitol riots, does not mention BLM or Antifa

January 22nd, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – President Joe Biden has ordered a full assessment of the risks posed by domestic terrorism in the shadow of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The “domestic violent extremism (DVE)” assessment was announced during a Friday press briefing.

New White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said:

 “The January 6th assault on the Capitol and the tragic deaths and destruction that occurred underscored what we have long known: The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat.

The Biden Administration will confront this threat with the necessary resources and resolve.”

The assessment will be conducted by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, led by newly confirmed Avril Haines, working with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, Psaki said at the briefing.

The administration’s focus on DVE is a clear acknowledgment that officials view the domestic unrest plaguing the United States in the past year, culminating in an attack on the United States Capitol on January 6 as a growing and concerning threat.

The review and plan put forth by the administration involves the Director of National Intelligence, which was created following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to prevent international terrorism. This pivots the attention of the government agency from external to internal terrorism threats.

Psaki said the “key point” being made by the administration is that they want facts to develop policy:

“We want fact-based analysis upon which we can shape policy. So, this is really the first step in the process. We will rely on our appropriate law enforcement and intelligence officials to provide that analysis.”

In addition to the threat assessment, the administration plans to develop its capability within the National Security Council (NSC) to confront the threat of domestic terrorism, including a review of the government’s information-sharing capabilities. Psaki said:

“The NSC will undertake a policy review effort to determine how the government can share information better about this threat, support efforts to prevent radicalization, disrupt violent extremist networks, and more.”

Psaki said she wanted to assure Americans that the administration’s actions would protect citizens’ rights while increasing government capabilities to monitor and counter domestic threats.

“We are committed to developing policies and strategies based on facts, on objective analysis, and on our respect for constitutionally protected free speech and political activities.”

“We need to understand better its current extent and where there may be gaps to address so we can determine the best path forward.”

The third step in Biden’s plan involves coordinating relative parts of the federal government to enhance and accelerate efforts to address DVE.

Addressing reporters following the briefing, Psaki said the President wanted to conduct the review and develop the DVE policy as a priority:

“It is a priority (of the administration to insure that we are assessing what is happening in government and if we could do it better. Clearly, more needs to be done. That is why the President is tasking the national security team to do exactly this review on his second full day in office.”

The announcement of the review and plan by the Biden administration did not make mention of violent protests and riots in cities across the nation over the summer by left-wing groups including Black Lives Matter and Antifa.

The attack on the Capitol on January 6 resulted in five deaths, including a Capitol police officer. The attack has led to the second impeachment of President Donald Trump and renewed a debate over whether there should be laws created specifically for domestic terrorism.

Thus far, terrorism policy and laws have focused mainly on international terrorism. Discuss and debate about the need for new laws to deal with domestic extremism have been sparked previously by school shootings and homegrown attacks like the one at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 people.

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Author: Jenna Curren

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