Dori: Homeless vagrant vandalizes Seattle Art Museum, starts fire

Nov 3, 2021, 3:56 PM | Updated: Nov 4, 2021, 6:52 am
hammering man, Seattle Art Museum...
(Photo by "hairygrumpy" on Creative Commons, flickr)
(Photo by "hairygrumpy" on Creative Commons, flickr)

Without a doubt, tipsters to The Dori Monson Show are invaluable. This story – shared with us by someone connected to the Seattle Art Museum – is proof positive.

Here’s what our tipster wants you to know:

“I doubt if you heard about the fire a homeless vagrant started in a bathroom inside SAM (last week). They used matches in an attempt to rupture the bulb in a sprinkler head in that restroom. But luckily enough, the two smoke detectors in that restroom both activated which initiated the sprinkler pre-action system for the mezzanine and that sounded the fire alarms, which we think scared off the person before they could pop the head. That prevented the floor from being flooded with nasty, oily sprinkler water.

“But can we stop and ask why we are letting homeless vagrants into a museum filled with irreplaceable works of art to potentially destroy everything? What if the fire alarms were offline for testing or for service? Then there wouldn’t have been any notification and the water would have flowed continuously at about 150 gallons per minute until someone discovers the problem. Would this make the five o’clock news? Would the Seattle Crimes pick up that story? I seriously doubt it. … It would be buried like every pertinent news story that highlights the dire plight of our city, our county, our state and our Nation.”

So despite SAM’s $29 adult admission prices, vagrants can apparently walk in — for free — to use the restrooms in this 30-year-old world-class venue, featuring more than 25,000 pieces of irreplaceable art.

When our show reached out to the SAM for more details, spokeswoman Rachel Eggers emailed this response: “There was a fire alarm incident yesterday at the Seattle Art Museum. The protocols in place for such incidents were followed, and staff and visitors were able to return to the building within an hour.”

Ironically, barely two months ago, The Stranger reported on a boycott organized by a group of museum employees and community allies calling itself “Decolonize SAM.” This group denounced the SAM’s attempts to create safeguards for patrons, employees, volunteers and SAM’s priceless collections, exhibits and art libraries.

They set up bollards to deter vagrants from camping outside the museum, referred to as “hostile architecture.” They were also critical of the SAM’s move to hire a private security firm to patrol the building’s exterior.

Putting this kind of social justice activism above common sense is completely beyond me. If only Hammering Man could have nailed last week’s vandal/arsonist.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Dori: Homeless vagrant vandalizes Seattle Art Museum, starts fire