JASON RANTZ

Seattle business owner looks east after having knife pulled on him

May 22, 2019, 7:28 AM | Updated: 7:45 am

Hamza Albadan owns Main Street Gyros in Pioneer Square and, like other business owners in the area, has noticed a change in locals.

“It is getting bad. The area is getting bad. Now, after 3 p.m. … you cannot walk, you’d be scared.” Albadan said.

This issue is an ever-changing number of aggressive, drug-abusing street-campers. Albadan said the homelessness crisis in Seattle, and specifically Pioneer Square, is negatively affecting his business as customers are often scared off despite wanting to eat at the restaurant.

“They love all our food. They say, ‘Hey, can you deliver to us? Can you cater to us?’” Albadan said.

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Why might customers be apprehensive? Maybe because of situations similar to what happened to Albadan the other day when he had a knife pulled on him.

Albadan says he approached a man who was camped on the sidewalk, blocking the entrance to his gyro store. When he began to speak to him, the camper brandished a knife. The most discouraging part of this incident was the response, or lack thereof, from police. Albadan said he called 911 around 11 a.m.

“After 4 p.m., they call and say, ‘Oh, he’s still there?’” Albadan said.

Albadan said this isn’t the first time he encountered a hostile street camper, nor is it the first time police couldn’t help. He said he was once pepper-sprayed when he asked some people to move out from the alley behind the shop.

“We called the police, and they came in and said, ‘We cannot do anything,’” Albadan said. “And I said, ‘But he assaulted me.’ And they said, ‘Yes, but we cannot do anything. Our hands are tied. The city tied our hands.’”

Albadan said he may have found out where some of the belligerent individuals are coming from. He said a pair of squatters on his property told him they were from the East Coast.

“They said ‘We are from New York,’” Albadan recounted. “They say the mayor of New York gave them $400 and a one-way ticket to Seattle.”

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Albadan is considering a move out of Seattle. He mentioned Bellevue or Lynnwood as possible destinations. Although, fed up with the homelessness crisis, he emphasized that not all homeless individuals fall under the same umbrella; it’s only the bad ones the city needs to do something about.

“The bad homeless that came from New York … are the bad people,” Albadan said. “We have to do something. What are we waiting for? The city is going down to hell, what are we waiting for?”

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Seattle business owner looks east after having knife pulled on him