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Spady: Addiction and human trafficking are driving the Seattle drug war

In this Monday, May 7, 2018 photo, with CenturyLink and Safeco Fields in the background, two people walk past a half-dozen tents set up along a sidewalk at the Seattle waterfront. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Washington is the best state in America according to a new ranking released by U.S. News and World Report. According to our governor Jay Inslee “Washington state is an example of how climate action and a strong economy go hand in hand.”

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Honestly, who cares? Who cares that we have a best-in-class economy? Who cares that 70 percent of our energy comes from renewables?

None of that matters until we address the problems openly visible across our state – shelter for the 40,000 kids who are experiencing homelessness; a violent addiction crisis; and a lack of affordable housing. We need affordable housing in rural, urban, and suburban communities. Until we get people suffering from addiction into treatment, and until we, as Washingtonians, feel safe on our streets, we should stop virtue-signaling on the environment as our governor would like.

I had a big ah-ha moment on Friday when we had Erika Nagy of Speak Out Seattle on the show. Erika and I were discussing what is actually happening inside of the homeless tent encampments in Seattle. There was a big drug bust last week where officers raided two encampments in Pioneer Square, the International District, as well as the homes of the ringleaders nearby.

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These ringleaders are bringing the drugs into the encampments across the city. This moment helped me visualize that this isn’t the only drug ring inside the city of Seattle – there must be 25-50 individual drug rings moving meth, fentanyl, and heroin among our most vulnerable populations just like the two that were busted recently.

We are literally living in the middle of a small drug war that extends from where I live in the Central District — where we saw gang shootings earlier this month — all the way to where Producer Daron lives in Greenwood, where a drug dealer was shot in a 7-Eleven parking lot in broad daylight. This incident spawned a large SPD manhunt that came up empty.

These are not isolated incidents. We need to zoom out and look at the big picture. We have 6,000 people living in tents, we have loads of drugs flowing into the city and we can hardly ever walk down the street without seeing an addict shooting up. As citizens we can’t ignore this anymore. We need every single one of you reading this to confront what is happening in these encampments head-on.

There is trafficking of young women and youth in these camps. There is prostitution that is deeply prevalent. There is a rapid spread of communicable diseases including HIV. The people who live in the tents are not there because they missed a paycheck. They are addicted and they are getting these illegal drugs from within the camps. Our inability as a city to acknowledge this, our lack of empathy, and our lack of enforcement are the reasons this is getting worse every day.

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This situation is so much bigger than Seattle. It is spreading across the state faster than Jay Inslee can say “I’m saving the environment by running for president;” faster than Attorney General Bob Ferguson can say “I’m suing Donald Trump.” Let me tell you, the work of our governor and AG won’t make a smidge of difference on homelessness and addiction. It is time that we question why we voted for our elected leaders, and why we live in the state of Washington.

Our politicians want us to believe that racial equity is the number one issue, followed by plastic straws, and criminal justice reform. Of course those are important issues (minus the straws), but they need to be put on the backburner until we address the real problem in our state: safety and homelessness.

There is a very real threat of being attacked on the street by an individual suffering from mental illness or addiction. Realize that dangerous attackers out there aren’t pursuing you because of your skin color, your wealth, or your gender. They are attacking you because they are mentally disturbed, and no one is helping them. No one is helping you either, because we don’t have enough police in Seattle, and our politicians won’t dare come to our defense.

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This is a defining moment for the state of Washington. We need to stop obsessing about the president and wake up to our problems at home. We need to pay attention to who we are voting for here locally and what their message is.

We need new leaders who are willing to take action on the issues that should matter to us most. Not politicians who lie to our faces about how great Washington state is. It isn’t right now, but it can be soon!

Listen to the Saul Spady Show weekday afternoons 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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