Seattle kids return to schools with homeless camps on school property

This makes about as much sense as anything else in Seattle. Children at two Seattle schools are now returning to classrooms but just outside the schools, on school property, there are homeless camps that have been in place for months. Neighbors complain the camps have brought drug use and rampant theft to the area but the city doesn’t appear ready to do anything about it.

The presence of the encampments at Broadview Thomson K-8, located at 13052 Greenwood Ave., and Edmond S. Meany Middle School, located at 201 21st Ave., has stirred concern among parents and residents who live in the area. They are outraged that students will be back in class Monday and the district has not yet resolved what they describe as a dangerous problem…

“Obviously, nobody is taking the problem seriously,” said Bill Steele, who lives in the neighborhood next to Broadview Thomson K-8, where the view from the front of the school looks normal. The encampment is located at the rear of the school where up to 40 tents have been pitched. “All parents need to speak up and let the school board know that our schools are not camp grounds.”

“You question the judgment of those in charge of keeping your children safe,” said Ryle Goodrich, whose 6-year-old son was set to return to the school in the Bitter Lake neighborhood Monday for in-person learning.

Goodrich told KOMO, “I know a lot of parents who wanted to send their children back to school but are unwilling to because they don’t feel safe.” He and his family are currently shopping for a new home, somewhere out of the city.

This is not a new problem. The city had promised to have the camp at Broadview Thomson cleared out last year but months later it’s still there. One local resident says a woman died of a drug overdose in February and her body lay in the street for hours. Like Goodrich, she told KOMO News that it sometimes feels the only option left in Seattle is to leave the city.

Of course the real concern parents have is that they don’t know who the transients living next to the school are. Do some of them have a history of violence or mental illness? It’s entirely possible. The nature of these camps is that people can drift in and out so even if you could identify everyone at a point it time, the makeup of the camp could change a week later. Would you want your young kids playing a few feet away from a bunch of drug addicts with nothing to lose? Even the wokest parents in the city are going to have a tough time accepting that bargain.

There’s every reason to think the situation in Seattle is going to get worse. In February the Washington Supreme Court struck down a portion of the state’s drug possession law. That means that simple possession for personal use is now effectively legal in Seattle, at least that’s how some see the ruling known as State v. Blake. The case involved a woman who was arrested during a police search for stolen vehicles. Police found a small amount of meth in her jeans and charged her with possession. Blake claimed a friend had given her the pants days before the raid and she hadn’t known about the meth. She was convicted but the Supreme Court decided she should not have been because prosecutors hadn’t proved she knew about the drugs. The potential impacts of that decision are enormous:

Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act — known as VUCSA — makes it a crime to illegally possess narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogenics or anabolic steroids.

Under the act, possession is considered a less serious crime than possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance.

“The Blake decision invalidates every single VUCSA possession case — that’s the common understanding in our court,” said King County Superior Court Presiding Judge Jim Rogers. As a result, he said, “the statute is straight-up unconstitutional and invalidated for all purposes.”

The upshot is that even a drug dealer who was initially charged with VUCSA possession with intent to deliver but later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of VUCSA possession will have his or her conviction thrown out.

So not only will police not bother with arrests for simple possession (because they’d have to prove you knew you owned the drugs), this ruling probably also applies to thousands of past cases. In effect, all of the drug convictions for possession are likely to be undone and all of the people currently in prison or probation on those charges will be set free. And of course, they’ll all be able to continue using without fear of arrest. In short, if you want to be a homeless drug addict, Seattle is the place to be.

There are two video reports below. The first is from two weeks ago and shows the encampment in the Capitol Hill neighborhood adjacent to Meany Middle School. KING 5 reports this camp grew substantially after a large homeless camp at Cal Anderson Park was cleared out last year.

The second video below from KOMO News is about the camp next to Broadview Thompson K-8 school. Only the first two minutes of the clip are about the camp, though if you stay to the end the last part of this clip is about a homeless person throwing a large rock through the window of a woman’s apartment. She lives there with her 1-year-old child. It’s not related to the school issue but it does show how easy it would be for a homeless person with mental issues to hurt a child. All they’d really have to do is pick up a rock.