Seattle Mariners forced to tap volunteer clean up crews to deal with local squalor ahead of All Star Game

“I've seen machetes, knives, guns, all of it. We see drug use, but in Seattle, it’s been decriminalized, so police don’t do anything about it.”

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
Squalor has gotten so bad in Seattle that, in anticipation of the upcoming MLB All-Star Week in Seattle July 7-11, the Seattle Mariners and local business groups are hosting a community clean-up event to get “key areas” of the city “ready for the national stage.”

On Monday, the Mariners, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and Together Washington announced “…an opportunity for community members across our region to roll up their sleeves and help get Seattle ready for the national stage. The organizations have come together to host a community clean up dedicated to the restoration of key areas within the city inviting all community members to join in this impactful event”  on June 23 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.

Participants will gather at T-Mobile Park to clean up Pioneer Square, SODO, and the Chinatown/International District, “…which have long been integral parts of Seattle's cultural and historic fabric,” but are also the epicenter of Seattle’s homeless and drug problems.

Participating organizations include The SODO and CID Business Improvement Areas, The Alliance for Pioneer Square, the Downtown Seattle Association, the Midtown Improvement District, The Port of Seattle Friends of Waterfront Park, former Sounders players, and “devoted Seattle fans” with a goal of and dedicating “time energy and resources towards transforming the selected areas into pristine and welcoming spaces for both residents and visitors alike.”

Seattle’s rising crime, rampant homelessness, and spiraling addiction crises have been the focus of national media attention.

Last month, a 51-year-old man leaving a downtown Seattle hotel was stabbed multiple times during an attempted robbery. According to police, the 42-year-old suspect ordered the victim to hand over his cell phone outside the Courtyard by Marriot Hotel and when the victim refused, the suspect stabbed him multiple times.

A security guard who works in the area told KOMO News at the time, “I've seen machetes, knives, guns, all of it. We see drug use, but in Seattle, it’s been decriminalized, so police don’t do anything about it.”

The area is close to 3rd Ave and Cherry Street, where open-air drug use and drug dealing are common occurrences.

Diane Forsyth, the owner of Hole in the Hall BBQ on James Street told the outlet, “They’re throwing a lot of money and resources at the situation and I don’t think it’s fixing a lot right now. We have to step over garbage and human waste. I want to have a compassionate heart, but I don’t know what the fix it.”

Forsyth added, “They’ll sweep the street, get the encampment gone, and then the next day it’s back. We’re dealing with the drug addicted and mentally ill - that’s more of what’s around than workers."

As the city and county have spent nearly a billion dollars in a ten-year effort to end homelessness in Seattle that has lasted over 16 years and only gotten worse, volunteer organizations like We Heart Seattle are being hailed as having the most impact on Seattle’s squalor.

The group works to connect the homeless and addicts with supportive housing and other services and cleans up encampments.

Recently, during a clean up the group found “…a stolen $150,000 valued construction forklift.”

On Sunday, two RVs parked below the Holman Road Overpass were fully engulfed in flames and the bridge itself was scorched, leaving neighbors concerned it might collapse.

Last month, King County passed the 2020 annual total of drug overdoses, only 6 months into 2023, according to data from Seattle-King County Public Health. Fentanyl overdoses occur so often that in January, the King County medical examiner was running out of places to store the dead bodies.

Additionally, the US Postal Service had to stop delivery to certain parts of the city due to rampant mail theft.

Violent crime has gotten so bad in the wake of the defund the police movement by the Seattle City Council that blood banks are begging for donors. Seattle's violent crime rate reached a 15-year high in 2022, surpassing the record set in 2021, with violent crime increasing by 4 percent in 2022 compared to 2021, which was the previous all-time high in reported crimes.

Totals in 2022 surpassed the 2021 record with 49,577 violent and property crimes and the department reported that aggravated assault and motor vehicle thefts were "significantly" high in 2022 compared to the five-year weighted average. 2023 is already looking to be another record-breaking year for homicides, complicated by the Seattle Police Department ordering officers to no longer engage in any pursuits. Additionally, over 600 officers have left the department since the city council defunded the police in response to the riots in 2020. Some officers were terminated, while others transferred or retired in response to the city’s COVID vaccine mandate. 911 response times have increased during an officer recruiting crisis.

Even assaults on firefighters have become so common that this week, the city council passed a new law that will classify obstructing a firefighter or EMS worker as a gross misdemeanor, in the same way obstructing a police officer does. According to the department, 50 firefighters have been attacked in just the last 6 months, mostly by the homeless.

The general state of the Emerald City has many questioning if Seattle is ready for the “national stage.”
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