Protests in Seattle, Washington, due to the newly proposed homeless megaplex in Chinatown’s International District (Chinatown-ID), have taken an interesting turn as homeless counter-protesters have started to rally against area residents, according to a video recorded by journalist Jonathan Choe.
“I’m not a criminal, why shouldn’t I live here?” yelled one homeless man at the crowd of Chinatown-ID protesters in a video Choe released. Many protesters fear the recent influx of homeless community members and the associated crime that inevitably follows will wreck what is left of their suffering community.
The homeless man blamed the Chinatown-ID protesters for the influx of the homeless, yelling, “Stop selling them heroin if you don’t want them here.”
The megaplex will replace a smaller shelter that can house 300 homeless people. The existing shelter has brought massive amounts of crime and driven many people away already, protesters said at the council meeting.
The proposed megaplex is a 500-person homeless shelter that would cost the county $66.5 million dollars to construct and $22 million dollars to run.
More than 200 Chinatown ID residents marched on the Metropolitan King County Council Tuesday, demanding the homeless megaplex, planned without community support, be moved to a different location. During the public comment period, numerous speakers cited the amount of crime that already exists in Chinatown.
A woman referred to as Miss Kay opened the public comment period, telling council members there is already “crime in front of my business.” She asked the council to address the current crime situation in Chinatown-ID before working about opening more homeless shelters. “Stop helping crime,” Kay said. “Soto (the shelter) will kill all of us.”
Another woman, Golden, told the council, “Why don’t you build the megaplex near you guys and you guys can see what we have actually been going through for almost two years? Again, I’m here supporting Miss Kay and all the students because again, we have children, we want to have passions just like you guys, but at the same time if we’re being stopped because you guys decided to build this megaplex, and don’t give us a chance to actually have a voice, where do we stand?”
The Executive Dow Constantine of Kings County, Washington, has pushed for Chinatown to be the location and construction of the megaplex, and has been labeled as a “traitor” by many protesters. The megaplex is part of a larger 9-year, 1.25 billion critical shelter and behavioral health services budget that addresses the growing homeless population in Washington.
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