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Rantz: Homeless punching, urinating on workers in Seattle’s Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square. (Seattle Municipal Archives)

When Weyerhaeuser decided to relocate from their Federal Way headquarters to Seattle’s Pioneer Square, the City of Seattle made a point of turning it into a public celebration for the city. At the time, it was called a “game changer” for Pioneer Square.

Now? Employees are being urinated and spit on by the homeless. Perhaps this wasn’t the game changer we had hoped for?

Pioneer Square is plagued by out-of-control homelessness. Many homeless people loiter in the neighborhood, which offers nearby resources from the city, King County, and nonprofits. And it’s dangerous.

“Our employees have been spit in the face, urinated on, aggressively yelled at, chased by people wielding tent poles, punched in the face…” Senior Vice President and Chief Administration Officer Denise Merle wrote in an email to city officials, including Mayor Jenny Durkan and several city council members, according to KOMO 4’s Matt Markovich. “Our employees have to walk over needles, human waste and garbage. Often they have to walk in the street because the tents on the sidewalks block their access.”

She complains the neighborhood has gotten more violent since Weyerhaeuser moved there two years ago. Indeed, KOMO’s Markovich highlighted a recent assault of the director of the Foster/White Art Gallery, Phen Huang.

A homeless man demanded a glass of water from Huang. After giving the man water, he refused to leave and started to disrupt products she was selling. Then, he assaulted her with two opened palm slaps to her face before hitting her with an umbrella. She said she has bruises on her arms and neck.

The city isn’t doing much to address the problems. Sweeps are met with resistance from Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Mike O’Brien. Durkan refuses to acknowledge that Seattle police officers are saying — when they’re properly staffed — they aren’t being allowed to enforce laws because the City Attorney’s Office won’t prosecute many crimes.

Seattleites are fed up and by the time the council and mayor realizes how serious the anger is, they’ll mostly be out of jobs, replaced by community activists and politicians who are willing to do what’s right to help the homeless and protect citizens from being beat up and urinated on.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday mornings from 6-9 a.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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