Report: Seattle mayor made threat in response to effort to slow Jungle actions

Jun 6, 2016, 6:04 PM | Updated: 6:05 pm
jungle, seattle...
The American Civil Liberties Union is closely watching the work being done to clear out Seattle’s illegal homeless encampment known as the “Jungle.” (AP)

When the Seattle City Council passed a non-binding resolution stating it did not want the infamous “Jungle” homeless encampment cleared out so soon, it was touted as a move that came with the blessing of the mayor.

But it turns out, that blessing may not have come as easily as implied.

Related: Seattle council member wants to rename ‘The Jungle’

“This particular resolution is sending a message that we are together, that we really want to make a difference for people who are homeless,” Councilmember Sally Bagshaw said when the council passed the resolution on May 31.

The Seattle Times reports that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray exchanged text messages with Councilmember Bagshaw about The Jungle, and the exchange wasn’t so smooth.

Bagshaw spearheaded the effort to pass a resolution that stipulated no one should be removed from the homeless encampment before they are contacted by an outreach worker and given options for housing and care. It also stated outreach workers should document what offers of housing have been offered to each individual, and that garbage, recycling bags and needle receptacles should be provided in the Jungle. The resolution also declared that human waste needles and other unsanitary issues should be cleaned up in the area.

But 10 days prior to the passing of the resolution, Mayor Murray attempted to contact Bagshaw via text. Those texts not only reveal that even the mayor refers to The Jungle as “The Jungle,” but also that he was not – at least initially – working so close with Bagshaw on the resolution.

One text reported by the Seattle Times states:

If you do a resolution on homelessness restricting our ability to deal with the rapes and other violent crime and the bike chops shops down there in the jungle, I will stop all clean ups throughout the city and pull police off enforcement. We are losing the ability to control our streets.

The mayor also sent a text that he was informed by Scott Lindsay, from his office, that Bagshaw wouldn’t speak to him out of fear of being yelled at.

“I have always been with staff when I meet with you and I have never yelled at you,” the mayor said in a text message. “I have been forceful in my profound disagreement with you on how to approach homelessness, based on the consultants critique of the city.”

“Sally I don’t know what is going on, but for the sake of the city will you please speak with me?” he said shortly after in another text message.

The text messages were sent over the span of a few hours while the mayor was traveling overseas. Once home, city’s efforts in The Jungle began to attract media attention. The mayor held a press conference about the city’s efforts to contact homeless individuals and clear out the area. And Bagshaw’s resolution made its way through the council process.

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Report: Seattle mayor made threat in response to effort to slow Jungle actions