Seattle Sued By Homeless People, ACLU, Over Cleanup Efforts
The City of Seattle has been conducting periodic sweeps to not only clean up unsightly homeless camps, but also apprehend criminal suspects. Now, the ACLU is representing two homeless people who are suing the city, saying these cleanup efforts are illegal.
Perhaps the latest chapter of 'this could only happen in Seattle' or the product of the city's very relaxed (even welcoming) attitude towards homeless people camping out virtually wherever they wish.
The ACLU has filed suit, says KOMO-TV, on behalf of two women and several churches who offer assistance to such camps. They want a U.S. District Judge to rule that the sweeps are illegal, to be able to contest the search and seizure policies, and allow the people to reclaim their belongings. The City of Seattle and the Washington State Department of Transportation are listed in the suit.
The ACLU says the Washington State Department of Transportation's cleanup sweeps endanger the people, and make them more vulnerable. While saying they cannot comment further on the lawsuit because they haven't reviewed it, the WSDOT has in the past said such sweeps are needed because the homeless camps often cause health and safety issues near roadways, off ramps, and other transportation areas.
They also said those who camp out on WSDOT property (underneath overpasses and other areas) endanger themselves, as these areas are often not accessible to service providers or emergency service vehicles.
Some critics say the issue has grown because of Seattle's 'welcoming' attitude towards homeless populations, even allowing them to set up camps in certain parks and other areas, including the notorious Jungle area. Now, it's starting to create public safety and health issues with the rest of the population.
Many of Seattle's camps have become areas for crime, drug trafficking, even prostitution and are a growing source of irritation for the general population.