There are an estimated 400 unsanctioned tent encampments in Seattle. One of those camps is being closed down after a man living there attacked a passerby who was performing at a bar across the street, putting him in the hospital with a fractured skull. From KOMO:
Cherry Cash said Friday that she and her fiancée Ryan Georg were outside El Corazon, a nightclub in the South Lake Union neighborhood, when she heard yelling. She said some men from the encampment “ran to get caught up with us and chase us down with a baseball bat ready for blood.”
Cash, in a text message, said Georg suffered skull and facial fractures and is being monitored for brain damage. Harborview Medical Center said he’s in serious condition.
A man living in the tent camp told KOMO that a group of people from the nearby bar “started screaming at us, telling us that we’re homeless, we need to get jobs, bums, [that we’re] drug users.” In response, a member of the camp who hasn’t been identified chased them with a bat.
“Kayla” said that after the attack the suspect came to her. “My friend handed me the baseball bat and was like ‘hide the bat’ and I was like what did you do with the baseball bat?”
She said that when Seattle police homicide investigators showed up the next day she turned her friend in.
The attacker was arrested and is now in jail. He allegedly gave a false name when police interviewed him.
The victim in the attack, Ryan Georg, is the guitarist in a local metal band and an Army veteran who served four years in the military. A GoFundMe page was set up to help him with medical bills. Yesterday, an update on the site said Ryan was going home for Thanksgiving, though it will be some time before his life is back to normal:
We are going home tonight! Ryan’s progress has been amazing the last few days. We are so grateful to go home for Thanksgiving. We still have a long road to being normal and Ryan will be doing therapy on his speech to learn to talk again, and follow ups on his brain.
Residents of the tent camp were given three days to clear out. Kayla, the woman who says she turned in the attacker, seemed irritated by that. “One stupid mistake and we’re all getting punished for it,” she told KOMO. I guess that’s one way to look at it. The other way is that a lunatic with a bat nearly beat a man to death over, at worst, some insults. That’s a little worse than a mistake and, frankly, it’s probably not the only “mistake” residents of the camp have made, just the only one that has made the news.
Just days before this happened, the Seattle City Council moved to slow the expansion of the city’s “navigation teams” which are the teams the city employees to clear out tent camps like this one.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan had proposed expanding the Navigation Team, which includes outreach workers and police, by nine positions in her budgets for 2019 and 2020. City council staff said at least some of the positions already had been hired, using $500,000 allocated by King County over the summer to allow the team to expand to 30.
Mosqueda said her proposal would reduce that expansion to six next year, and seven in 2020, and would use the $724,000 in savings to give wage increases of two percent to more city-contracted human-services workers at nonprofit agencies than Durkan’s budget proposed…
Mosqueda’s proposal had begun leaking out earlier in the day, prompting push back. Mike Stewart, CEO of the Ballard Alliance, wrote in an email to the council before the vote that his neighborhood has had to “wait weeks and months for Navigation Team service.”
“If anything, the City should be allocating more funding to the Navigation Team to allow for additional capacity, faster response times and deeper reach into all of the affected neighborhoods across the City,” he wrote.
Seattle’s business community has been begging the city to do more to deal with the homeless problem, i.e. people sleeping and defecating on the streets often near local businesses. But one member of the Seattle City Council, socialist Kshama Sawant, has proposed completely eliminating the navigation teams that (slowly) respond to problems at the camps.