A review of the latest Seattle crime statistics appears to indicate a correlation between the presence of RVs and crime in one neighborhood.
“We live this each and every day,” said Magnolia resident Harley Lever, a vocal neighbor fighting to reclaim his local streets from RVs and rampant crime for the past several years.
Lever operates Safe Seattle, an online community who discusses concerns about homelessness, crime and more on Facebook. Safe Seattle has argued that the recent trend of removing RVs from Magnolia roadsides has resulted in dropping crime in the area. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and some city council members, however, insist that there’s no connection between lower reported crime and the disappearing RVs.
That doesn’t change Lever’s perspective.
“We see it with our eyes and we can now confirm it with the Seattle Police Department’s numbers,” Lever said.
The SPD’s online crime map comparing crime in Magnolia from last year to the first two months of this year shows a considerable drop in crime where the RV’s had previously congregated.
Lever has frequently criticized the mayor and council for ignoring residents’ complaints, especially about the RV problem. But he says ever since the city cleared out most of them in the last two months, there’s been a dramatic change.
“We get one or two, here or there, but the dumping of the trash is gone. I haven’t found a needle in that stretch since we started [the cleanup],” Lever said.
But Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has refused to acknowledge any strict connection between RV’s and crime. In turn, he recently commented that neighbors complaining about RVs and crime have worked themselves into a “paranoid hysteria.”
“North Seattle wants to work with the mayor and the city council to solve the problems. Yet every opportunity he gets, he slams the neighbors who’ve had to deal with the situation. It’s too bad, but really this is a direct contradiction to what the mayor has said,” Lever said.
Mayor Murray wasn’t available for comment Tuesday as he was in San Francisco to tour a highly praised homeless program there. But he has previously acknowledged a link between RVs and crime in his televised January homeless address to the city.
“Some RV’s have been involved in crime. The police are identifying those and are actually making arrests. Others we’re trying to get in a safe place and move them into permanent housing. It’s not going to be easy,” Murray said.
Lever praises the Seattle Police Department for its recent response and says he and other neighborhood activists would like to continue working with the city.
But with officials criticizing neighbors, Lever says city hall continues to foment sharp division in the community.
“They just thumb their nose at it and say we’re all hysterical. You know, we’re here to help them. Because at the end of the day, when they fail we reap the repercussions,” Lever said.