City Continues to Ignore Pleas for Remedy
Enough is Enough interviewed retail workers, businesses, and residents over the last two months in the areas surrounding encampments. Untold stories of assaults, harassment, hard drug use, human waste, and discarded needles plague the area while the city council ignores pleas for assistance. Many retail workers declined to speak publicly about incidents for fear of retaliation.
In the Enough is Enough video posted above, a retail assistant manager details an incident where a customer rushed into the store as three members of the encampment fought in the parking lot where she was parked. When the employee called the police from the front steps the individuals moved across the street to the encampment where the fight continued “One man jumped off his bike, and ran up to another man on his bike, attacked him and then was on the ground punching him before getting a pipe from nearby tent and striking him in the head,” said the retail worker.
This story was one of many the Enough is Enough team collected as they met with nearby residents and workers. Reports of regular nudity, public sexual acts, urination, defecation, and drug use escalated in August of this year. There is also a growing fear of violence with an increasing siting of machetes spotted in the hands of individuals in the encampment who often swing them wildly when they are under the influence.
While it was frequent during summer for businesses to find used hypodermic needles in the parking lot in early morning cleaning sweeps, recently more brazen users have injected drugs during business hours in plain view of the public on private property. A business owner described a scene where a group of customers in the parking lot watched as a man walked to the steps of the business, placed a rubber hose on his arm, and started to inject a needle into his arm.
A retail worker detailed a horrifying experience that has since repeated itself where individuals have waved needles around wildly.“We had customers waiting to come into the store who witnessed a man with two needles in his handles, mumbling and rocking back and forth,” said a retail worker in a video statement.
Scott Rousseau, an impacted business owner, described the feeling of confronting drug-impaired individuals, “I’m a former Army Officer, and not easily intimidated, when you look into their eyes it’s very unsettling. We’ve had difficulty opening the store because of people from the encampment under the influence of drugs, people from the encampment, sitting on our steps with needles in their hands, and we have difficulty clearing them out before we open.”
Many expressed concerns with sunset arriving earlier making it more difficult to be aware of surroundings and easier for thefts and trespassing to occur without notice. During a recent visit by the Enough is Enough team to a business that picked up eight needles the team encountered a series of events in just hours during broad daylight. Items were stolen from a local business after an employee chased down the thieves and in a separate incident, one member of the encampment had an altercation with a female in what appeared to be a disagreement over the cache of bicycles. Later that afternoon Medics arrived to start CPR on a man passed out in the street.
Cleaning Needles and Shoveling Feces
Businesses spend early morning hours scouring the grounds to remove needles long before customers arrive. It’s common to find three to eight needs in a single parking lot each morning. Two businesses reported drug drops in planters located on their property in planters and plant buffers. Morning maintenance also includes pickup of human feces, where campers use their property as a public bathroom. Enough is Enough learned that the Marginal Way encampment was utilizing a tent over a storm drain with a bucket modified with a hole in the bottom to create a bathroom facility onsite.
While that has decreased slightly since the installation of porta toilets, Rousseau highlights the human impacts, “I don’t see how it’s humane to let them stay in a place that has no running water, no place to bathe, no place to use the bathroom, in conditions where increasing violence is acceptable, it’s not humane.”
Workers and residents shared similar views with Enough is Enough, while they expressed concrete frustration with the increased criminal activity, vandalism, and medical emergencies, they are also sympathetic to the lack of services and plans by the city.
“The city stance this summer, and currently right now has been we will allow illegal activity everyday across the street in city limits and will not do anything about it is complete irresponsible. I don’t understand how tenting is illegal, but tenting is allowed. I don’t understand how drug use is illegal, but the city provides clean needles every day. I don’t understand how assault and battery is illegal, but that’s happening over there on a regular basis. It seems to me that is okay as long as it stays amongst themselves. At the end of the day the people of this neighborhood are being victimized by the city’s inaction to deal with illegal activity every day,” Rousseau expressed.