It's winter, and this is a single homeless man and small dog who dared to set up a single tent in a park and bother nobody while he tries to survive:
What about you @SeattlePD, you going to stand by and watch peoples personal property destroyed? pic.twitter.com/FqRT2hGJCT— Alex Garland (@AGarlandPhoto) February 12, 2020
To summarize, Riley and his dog, Babygirl, have been living tucked away in a corner of my local park. We met on Thanksgiving last year, chatted for a bit, gave him a care package, and we bonded over dogs. Sometimes we say hello, sometimes he dances in the park, he's always kind.— Alex Garland (@AGarlandPhoto) February 12, 2020
Just dropped off some tape to repair his tent and this man broke down crying because he just wants a little space for him and his dog. He loves to dance and says he prayed to find a spot where he can just live. Y'all, damn.— Alex Garland (@AGarlandPhoto) February 12, 2020
Each video is about a minute and 20 seconds long. I encourage you to watch each as this man tells his story. He also explains that he is unable to access a nearby homeless shelter because he was assaulted in the laundry room and he fought back too hard, so they kicked him out. Many others living in tents do so because they can't access shelters for various reasons, whether because it's transphobic, because staff is abusive, because of various hostile rules, or perhaps because they won't like you keep animals like Babygirl.
Riley explains the absurdity of this "sweeps" policy perfectly. He's just trying to survive day to day, he doesn't have enough money to afford a place, there is no affordable housing in Seattle and no I am not counting the so-called affordable housing apartments that offer a small discount on rent because $1,200 per month is not "affordable" for Riley no matter how you try to twist it.
So what should Riley do? He's asking for help, so if it was available he would surely take it. But it hasn't been. It's the same for every other homeless person. How does destroying their tents and stealing and throwing away their meager possessions help either them or the rest of the city? It just makes it harder for them to get out and more likely that they'll die homeless.
The existence of homelessness is a failure of society. This is Durkan's failure and Riley deserves an apology and compensation for his damaged property.