Friday, June 3, 2016

The homeless "disappearing" act in Kent

Since I do not own a car and prefer to avoid taking a bus that is a waste of money for a five-minute ride, my way home from my current employment obliges me to take an excursion along the Interurban Trail that runs through Kent south to Auburn, since otherwise I would have to traverse a dangerous mile stretch of highway without any safe way to walk along it on either side. So I’m walking down the trail when I encounter some interesting graffiti spray painted in large letters on the angled face of a street overpass: 

“City of Kent steal (sic) from the homeless.” 

Now, from the perspective of the author of this complaint, he is quite right. From my perspective, however, he got exactly what he deserved. Was this guy brazen or merely stupid for setting up a tent right along the trail in unabashed plain sight for the usual parade of self-obsessed bike riders in their silly skin tights and joggers trying to work off the office fat? Someone was going to notify the Kent police about someone “camping out” under the overpass, and despite the fact that this location was several miles from the nearest urban residential area and basically in the middle of nowhere, that wouldn’t stop the bike cop patrol from taking a sightseeing tour in that direction. 

Homeless? There are homeless in Kent, but through long experience of cat-and-mouse games the “regulars” know how to avoid contact with the police. But this guy? He must be from “out-of-town” for being such an idiot for daring the local authorities with his presence. The first time I saw the tent over a week ago, I called out a warning to the person who might be occupying it at the moment that he was inviting the attention of the police. I didn’t hear a response, and for over a week I never saw the person who established himself there; I suspect that if I had seen him, he probably wouldn’t have taken my warning seriously anyway, maybe even uttering foul oaths or threating my person. But he was just a troublemaker, and it was just a matter of time before his encampment was removed, voluntarily or not; I was just surprised that he wasn’t either given a warning, or he ignored a warning to vacate, leading to the physical loss of his traveling homestead. 

But this is Republican Kent, where several years ago the Union Gospel Mission was denied a permit to establish a homeless shelter within the city limits, the “non-partisan” city council claiming that it would attract crime—not “progressive” Seattle, which sends in the volunteer social workers to suggest “alternatives” before it clears out an encampment. In Kent, they think that making a homeless person’s belongings “disappear” will make the homeless person “disappear” too.

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