September 1, 2021 Dena Jensen
9/1/21: This project is a work in progress, will be updated daily until transcription of public comments is complete, and will include transcriptions of public comments from Bellingham City Council meetings before the Council started restricting their public comment periods to 15 minutes on March 22, 2021. The public comments transcribed will be for regular City Council meetings earlier this year, from January 11, 2021 through March 8, 2021.
In many cases the subject matter should be relevant to issues that still need addressing in our community. I am doing this project to gain a clear perspective on what people were saying to City Council Members during public comment at that time.
This project is also being done to review the comments in light of remarks by numerous City Council Members about the nature of public comment being made at City Council meetings during the period chosen for this project. Below is a comment by City Council Member Dan Hammill, from the City Council’s August 30, 2021 Committee of the Whole meeting, that reflects a perspective of which some of the other Council Members are supportive. Council Member Hammill’s remarks are related to recent proposals by Council President Stone to create workable options for public comment and increased public engagement:
“Yeah, I’m not interested in either one of these options, quite frankly. The level of toxicity that we’ve experienced – I feel like I’m in an alternate reality right now, that we are even having this discussion. The level of toxicity that we’ve all have received that’s in our homes, with our partners, our spouses, the things that were directed at us, that were wholly not supported and not true and then the subsequent high-jacking of the anti-scientific folks who have threatened the loss of our YouTube access now. I don’t know why we would invite more of this. It doesn’t make any sense to me to do that.”
Most public comments will be transcribed in full. If I don’t post a full transcription of a comment, I will post the link to the point in the meeting where people can listen to the full comment.
I will post the first name of the commenter. People can access meeting recordings or make records requests for information that is publicly available.
9/1/21: PART ONE: The first Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 11, 2021. The first public comment of the night is at 1:01:55 in the meeting recording (https://youtu.be/XpR-5LLSfnM?t=3713):
“Hello Council, can you hear me okay? Okay yeah, no, I appreciate you all getting together for a joint session today. And I felt like maybe we didn’t get as much work done there as many of us might have wanted to. I know I certainly did a lot of outreach with both the City and County Councillors to try to even get that to happen, so we could have a discussion about it.
“I remember that in this last meeting that President – Council President Stone was talking – reflecting on the halcyon days of being crammed into the Mayor’s room with – in the Mayor’s office upstairs, in that Council area – and we were all crammed in there. And there was the Chief of police, and there was the Sheriff’s deputies. And did I say I was there? Yeah. And other advocates were there too.
“And so I saw a lot of spinning wheels today in the joint session, with people either presuming what advocates wanted, or misrepresenting what advocates wanted. I just want to be clear that- I just want to say a few words about emergency winter sheltering. It’s the duty of government to provide that. You can’t just let people freeze on your lawn. It’s actually your duty to do it. It’s something that I was trying to get you all to come to water on and drink from that trough. That’s something that needs to happen.
“You just don’t put it on the volunteers who have showed up from your community to save the lives on your lawn. You don’t put it on them to provide the sheltering, okay? So, that’s backwards.
“What you do is you provide that sheltering to save these lives. The life-saving effort to save these lives and get them into a safe location – and then, let’s do outreach to find these partners that can help you. I can guarantee you, they’re out here. But we need to jump some hurdles, put before us by government, in order to help. That’s one of the problems that’s been identified in negotiations through this whole thing.
“Now, I know it’s a bad night for everybody who wants something free. But really, we’re talking about people’s lives here. And we’re talking about a fully fleshed-out plan here too. If you get an additional – plus the 25 more that were supposed to be bought by the County – if you get an additional 50 instead of 25, Mr. Fleetwood, and put them on a large enough lot so that you can promise to even buy more, if necessary – because that’s what we’ve really got, out here.
“You know, when you see up to 200 people at a time be camped out, out there, you’re not even counting the other 200 – I don’t know – 250, 300 people? – who are filing through, getting supplies and heading back out into the woods. Because they’re there too. You know, I applaud anybody who wants to come out there and bring any order and get people to sign up to services and everything. Because the window is open for services from the very beginning and they all denied it. They didn’t want to do it.
“So we come out of the last meeting with some sort of promise to each other that you’re just going to try to jam everybody into the Base Camp and we’re going to call that good. You know, indicating a willingness to purchase shelters with no date of delivery for people who are dying. You’ve got to help.”
9/1/21 PART TWO: The first Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 11, 2021. The second public comment of the night is Michael, at 1:05:17 (https://youtu.be/XpR-5LLSfnM?t=3917):
“Can you hear me? Okay, thank you. Hi, most of you know me. I am speaking to you as someone who appreciates the work that many of you have been doing for years on affordable housing. And you know that that’s usually what I speak about when I come to you.
“So, I recently heard a physician, Dr. Jack Garger, who works on affordable low-income health clinic, points out that the prescription for hunger is food, and therefore he ought to be able to prescribe for people who come to him malnourished. And further, the prescription for hypothermia is warm shelter, and this council has made laudable efforts to fill that prescription with shelter for unsheltered Bellinghamsters.
“There’s another crisis that’s closely related to the first two, another health crisis that I mentioned, and it’s home ownership and rental cost inequity. In my view, the prescription for this inequity that will restore the human health that affordable home ownership and rental equity supports in our community is a system of community equity that ensures there will be affordable homes for all in perpetuity.
“So, to achieve community home ownership and rental equity, we need to achieve shared equity ownership of at least probably half the homes both existing and yet to be constructed in our town.
“And in order to achieve this 50% equity is going to cost a lot of money, reworking of state and local land use laws. But we can’t wait to put maximum effort into addressing this health crisis, because real estate prices are soaring. And the cost to take residential real estate off of the speeding speculative market freight train gets higher by the week. We need to put the breaks on that train and offload our community’s rightful cargo as quickly as we can.
“If we can’t do this, Bellinghamsters are going to be forced to abandon their beloved community, leaving a transformed, gentrified city behind like’s happening in Vancouver and Seattle and San Francisco.
“As a City Council, you can focus on affordability issues through the lens of systemic change. That’s something you can do as a City Council. And it helps to set that example. We need to build an alternative housing system and we need to do it as quickly as possible. A slow pace of reform won’t cut it. The train is coming around the bend and heading down a steep grade.
“I implore you to redouble your already fine efforts, and I mean that – your already fine efforts – in this regard, by working even more intensely with state and federal legislators. And you have a great bunch of folks in our legislature this year to help us with this.
“Please, work even harder, through the lens of building a different system to stop this freight train pricing people out of Bellingham forever. Please, local advocates, put the breaks on the run-away freight train of housing affordability health crisis.”
9/1/21 PART THREE: The first Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 11, 2021. The third public comment of the night is Brel at 1:08:36 (https://youtu.be/XpR-5LLSfnM?t=4116):
“Good evening. Hi, my name is Brel…and I am a volunteer down at Camp 210 and have been involved in some of the conversations with the City and the Mayor about negotiating trying to set up this site that the Mayor mentioned in his comments, and it was part of a discussion today in today’s joint Council meeting.
“And so there’s this offer of 25 shelters on Cornwall as a low-barrier site, and so it’s something that we’re trying to discuss and see if it’s something that there is agreement amongst campers and volunteers that this is a good offer.
“And one thing that we’re running into is that, you know, there’s a real sense of solidarity amongst campers, in the same way that it would be really bizarre to go to a union and say, ‘Hey, so 25 of you can get a raise, but the rest of you can’t.’
“That solidarity is really preventing people from really getting on board and being enthusiastic about this. So, when you look at the real need on City Hall lawn, it is so much greater than 25. And that’s just a really, really, hard, hard pill to swallow and hard deal to even look at.
“And another question that gets brought up is, ‘Well, what about people that are labeled as sex offenders – and what about people that are – that do have active felony warrants – are those people just, what shelter are they going to have?’ – is a question that’s often brought up.
“So it’s really important for you to hear what is being talked about on the lawn, and what concerns are being raised, since those voices weren’t heard today at the meeting.
“So, yes, there’s a much greater need than 25. 25 is just, is not going to make a dent in what’s needed. Another thing that was discussed today at the 3 p.m. meeting was, from a few different Council Members of both the City and County that it would be really great to have a more accurate sense of what the needs are on the ground.
“And that’s something that, as volunteers, we’ve been talking a lot about too. And one solution that we’ve come up with is, we’ve found campers who have really – who are leaders down at Camp 210 and have built up really amazing respect and love down there.
“And so, what we’re hoping to do is to set them up as peer support counselors so that they can – the people that already have the most trust in the community can be asking those questions about what the real needs are. And so, would love support on that, if that’s something that really both councils think is important, we believe these people are much better equipped to -“
Time was called and comment was ended by Council.
9/2/21 PART FOUR: The first Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 11, 2021. The fourth public comment of the night is Heather at 01:12:30 (https://youtu.be/XpR-5LLSfnM?t=4350):
“This is Heather…American citizen since birth. Hello community, neighbors, and City Council, Mayor, staff – Mayor Seth and City staff.
“Each week I’ve continued to outreach and speak with our neighbors who are camping without safe shelter this winter and others that cover – that live outside and that are covered just by a piece of cardboard or plastic, or nylon. And I really appreciate the previous comment.
“The winters are especially intense, due to the strong winds, breaking tree limbs, tent poles and due to reoccurring freezing rain, snow, and ice. And I give thanks for the patience of our Bellingham Mayor Seth, our community respects his wisdom. And thank you, Council Chairperson Hannah Stone for your leadership here.
“I give thanks to our individual citizen volunteers who gift their time and resources with supplying a daily warm nourishing meal served outside in the elements, to both our camping citizens on our Lottie Street lawns, and as volunteer citizens are able, to campers further out in the woods and sidewalk doorways.
“We support the ongoing ask for purchase of additional severe weather individual sleeping huts, tiny homes, and the ask for a public warming center that is welcoming to all citizens, as our library used to be.
“I see a gap in the care of our most vulnerable citizens who are affected by limited financial resources. I see this gap on many levels. One of the gaps in cares from our tax-funded outreach workers, who in the past met their clients in person at their residences, even if their home was a tent on the ground.
“I see a gap in our behavioral and mental health agencies in serving their clients who do not have homes or shelters. There’s also a gap in care by our mental health outreach workers who have state authority to order help to anyone who is a danger to themselves or another, like our DCR, designated crisis responders.
“Another gap in care is the lack in internet or cell phone accessibility to connecting our unhoused citizens to new shelter options, such as tiny homes, and through the housing wait-list managed by Opportunity Council.
“Lastly, I wish to share I am most inspired by those I meet living outside. I witness their efforts to survive, moment by moment in our northwest weather conditions. I’m inspired by their creativity and their strengths, to survive, no matter what challenges come their way. Each one I meet looks me in the eye and shares the light of their courage. May we work together in community across our differences.”
9/2/21 PART FIVE: The first Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 11, 2021. The fifth public comment of the night is Melissa at 1:16:00 (https://youtu.be/XpR-5LLSfnM?t=4560):
“Hello. So yeah, I’m supremely disappointed, honestly, in the fact that the meeting earlier really would have benefitted from having somebody who has been on the ground this entire time, there. Having everybody spitball ideas and not know enough information to make informed decisions, really kind of sunk the ship, I felt like. And I’m really, really, unfortunately discouraged at this point with everything.
“We’ve been trying to get, you know – I heard Satpal repeatedly insist that people that are not allowed to go to Base Camp, go to Base Camp. And I, you know, heard them talk about services, services, services, when we’ve been trying to get their providers out here since day 1, and nobody will do this.
“All the kids that work at McDonalds are essential workers and your mental health professionals and your outreach teams for the homeless aren’t – I just can’t even comprehend why this is okay. You know, the volunteers are out there everyday, risking themselves with the PPE that’s been donated to us by the community.
“And you guys have – you have the ability – you have the ability to suit up and go do the job that you’re paid to do. And I just, I don’t understand why that can’t be done and I don’t understand what’s so complicated about sheltering people from the elements, at least until you can get them – you know, you need to shelter first, then you can bring services to the people.
“With COVID you need individual shelters so they can quarantine properly. I don’t understand what’s so complicated. And by the way, that County Council Member who said we wanted them to do drugs in the shelter is full of poo. And I just want the record to reflect that none of us has ever, ever talked about them being allowed to do drugs while they’re in a shelter. I know he was trying to really push some hateful rhetoric there. It’s just patently false and the record needs to be set straight.
“But we need you guys to help. Sitting around and talking about long-term solutions without providing us even so much as a warming shelter is ridiculous. Please, do better. I don’t know what to say. Do better. Like, give me shelter. I’m taking care of them already. Give me a place to put ‘em. Thank you for your time.”
9/2/21 PART SIX: The first Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 11, 2021. The sixth public comment of the night is Eve at 01:18:48 (https://youtu.be/XpR-5LLSfnM?t=4727):
“Hi, can you hear me? Thank you to City Council and County Council for meeting today. Appreciate you taking extra time to address this issue. With the national holiday coming up commemorating Reverend Doctor King, I just wanted to mention his last speech, ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop’ where he relays the story of the Good Samaritan.
“And in the story, you have someone who’s fallen and can’t get up, and needs help. And two men pass by and do not help him. And the men that pass him by ask, ‘if I help – if I stop to help, what will happen to me?’ And then along comes the Good Samaritan, the story’s namesake, and he asks, instead, ‘if I don’t stop to help, what will happen to them?’
“And I think that that question is so vital. It’s so important.
“Listening to some of the things folks said in the joint session today was rough, you know. Like, we’re not taking the time to really understand what it means to live outside, what it means to sleep outside, in the rain, every night, sometimes in the snow, sometimes with 50 mile per hour winds, blowing your tent over, soaking everything you own, not being able to ever get dry, not having access to showers, not having access to laundry.
“People do not choose to be houseless. People do not choose to live that life. There are things that happen. There is trauma happens. There are mental health issues that do not get resolved. There is lack of a support system. It could be simple as just not having a family who supports you. It could be one medical bill that puts you on the street.
“And here we are without solutions. 25 shelters are not enough. We have to stop and ask ourselves, ‘if we do not help, what happens to them?’ If people do not get shelter before the end of the month, with the Mayor’s deadline, what do we do? We sweep? And what do we do with things that get swept? They go into the trash.
“So, we don’t have the housing to put these people into. Then what is actually going to happen when you try to clear the lawn? We throw everyone’s stuff away? We throw our people away? We’re better than that. We need to do better.
“I know we have the resources in this community. We need to stand up. We need to show up for every individual, no matter what they own, no matter where they come from, these are human beings. These are fathers, and mothers, and sons, and daughters, and brothers and sisters. They have hearts, they have beating hearts. They have cold feet. And they need our help.”
9/3/21 PART SEVEN: The first Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 11, 2021. The seventh public comment of the night is Lia at 1:22:10 (https://youtu.be/XpR-5LLSfnM?t=4930):
“Hi can you hear me? Alright, I would like to start off by saying I’m a local housing case manager in the area and I’d like to thank you for your time. But I would also like to point out, as many people have said, that 25 to 50 single spots is not enough.
“There are 900 homeless people and unsheltered people in Whatcom County, and 25 is not going to fill anything, any needs at all.
“And the past two weeks, there have been two cases of trench foot at our 210 Camp. And also, as many people have stated, Home Base cannot fit everybody in the community that needs this help.
“Our unsheltered neighbors are still our neighbors, and I think a lot of the stigma that is surrounding our unsheltered community comes from a ‘not-in-my-backyard’ mentality that is incredibly harmful, and does, in fact, cost people their lives.
“Winters have passed, where up to eight people have died from exposure, and that’s not even including the fact that we are living currently in a pandemic where our most vulnerable population are those who are unsheltered. And they have nowhere to go when they need to quarantine and no way to take care of themselves if they do get sick. And it’s quite literally a death sentence if they are unsheltered and they get sick in this weather.
“I would like to challenge anybody who sees this as a non-issue, to go outside on one of these stormy nights and try sleeping in the wind and the cold and the rain, and then being told that you do not have access to laundry vouchers, that you do not have access to warmth, that you cannot change out of your dry clothes, and that you have nowhere to go to try to get shelter.
“I would also like to point out that our housing waiting lists, even through our Opportunity Council, which is a wonderful program, can last up to five years for some people, if they are not ranked vulnerable enough. So pretty much you – us, as a City are just waiting for people to get sick enough and vulnerable enough and hurt enough to be able to rank high enough to be housed. Which – housing is a basic human right. It does not matter where you are from, it doesn’t matter what your history is – we do not get to morally quantify who does and does not get housing.
“Every single person is deserving of housing and I would like each and every one of you to consider what it would feel like if somebody came up to you and you do not deserve to have a warm place to lay your head at night and have the right to live, essentially. Thank you.”
9/3/21 PART EIGHT: The first Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 11, 2021. The eighth public comment of the night is Nicole at 01:25:05 (https://youtu.be/XpR-5LLSfnM?t=5105):
“Hi there, can you hear me? Alright. Hi there, my name is Nicole…and I’m a Bellingham tax-payer and a voter. I really appreciate the others who commented before me, advocating for the houseless with such eloquence and kindness. I’m going to keep this simple, and with not as many niceties.
“I’m calling in today to tell all of you to work harder to connect the dots, loosen restrictions, and take necessary steps to get all of the houseless folks out on the street right now, into shelters.
“The City of Bellingham has known from various community members and City funded organizations, as early as 2018, that there were anywhere from 750 to 1500 houseless people living here. And yet, you went into this winter with the only option of shelter being a 200-person capacity space with restrictions that leaves many people unable to get in and hits capacity every night regardless.
“All of you have known since March that we’re in a pandemic that puts vulnerable community members at heightened risk and that homelessness would undoubtedly be exacerbated, and yet you did not make plans for any additional shelter. This is absurd.
“I want to know how many hours, both on and off the clock each of you are spending each day to ensure that your constituents are housed, because there are groups of community members who are low-income, working full time, caring for their families, going to school and paying rent, who are dedicating anywhere from 15 to 50 hours a week to volunteer their time to provide the community care that all of you refuse to figure out how to.
“I don’t care about the policies, the red tape, the precedents or lack thereof – 25 shelters, here or there, is an insult. This lack of significant action is violent. And you all have the capacity, power, connections and resources to do more, and I’m expecting that you do. Thank you.”
9/3/21 PART NINE: The first Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 11, 2021. The ninth public comment of the night is William at 01:27:35 (https://youtu.be/XpR-5LLSfnM?t=5255):
“Hello. Hi, I am William…It is day 60 of the occupied protest by unsheltered citizens of our community. Their protest has allowed relief workers to come in and provide service to the campers. The relief services have included the distribution of tents, sleeping bags, pillows, hygiene supplies, firewood, clothing, etc.
“Volunteers have worked 24 hours a day to distribute meals prepared, that come individually wrapped from people in our community, hot coffee and cocoa, other snacks, as possible. Volunteers have assisted campers with hygiene, health care, deescalation, and friendship.
“These conditions have allowed for community to form and healing to begin. Many campers routinely contribute to these efforts and all functions of camp, including cleaning the grounds. While this winter has rarely been freezing cold, storm after storm has battered camp. These storms have repeatedly destroyed any normal tent or canopy, leaving campers struggling to stay warm or dry.
“So it is very painful to hear the criticism that our refugee shelter our community is operating isn’t clean enough for some in the community. It’s especially painful, knowing how hard some campers work, despite their situation, to keep camp clean. It’s the constant struggle in the elements.
“And people are still suffering despite our community, as has been noted, with trench foot and just continual exhaustion from the weather. The people of Bellingham are showing right now that we can take care of our own, if the government would get out of the way.
“HomesNOW! has shown that if the government would make land available, then community would build tiny homes. Car after car brings donations to camp. Staffers from City Hall bring donations to camp. Workers, County staff thanks us for our work. People tell me they have cancer when they come down and they wish they could work, but they just wanted to bring some things down, so they’re going to stay by their car because of the COVID risk.
9/4/21 PART TEN: The first Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 11, 2021. The tenth public comment of the night is Mary at 1:30:50 (https://youtu.be/XpR-5LLSfnM?t=5450):
“Hello, my name is Mary…I would like to comment about some of the things that I heard in this afternoon’s meeting and about housing the homeless.
“And it was brought up that the people would not clean their own camp, and how they could be – how they could expect homes if they couldn’t clean their own camp.
“And what I would love for all of you to do, would be to spend just an hour down there, interacting with people at the camp. And I think that you’ll understand that there is so much more going on than just people trying to camp someplace for free and to have a place where they can freely do drugs and alcohol.
“I am a sober person for 12+ years now, and I can speak from experience that alcohol and drug use is a disease. It isn’t something that should mean a death sentence for the campers out there. It is a disease they are suffering with.
“So to banish them and to say they don’t deserve a tiny home because they are addicted to drugs or alcohol is banishing them for a disease that they really cannot – it’s not just a matter of just willpower to stop using. And everybody probably knows that because I bet every single one of you has somebody in your family who has an addiction to drugs or alcohol. And so you all know that this is a tough situation that affects every socio-economic status that there is.
“So, it would just be wonderful if you could get down – go down there, interact with the people, see the level of mental health issues that are there, see that these people are addicted, and understand, with a heart, that they need homes, that they need their homes first. They need a place to put a roof over their head so that they can get sober, so they can work on their mental health issues, so they can become functioning members of society again.
“So often these people are dismissed just because it’s not pretty, and they’re making a mess, or maybe they’re upset and angry and scary. But they’re humans. And you – we all – we need to open your heart and see them as that, for what they are. Thank you so much.”
The thing keeping us from sheltering the homeless people in Bellingham right now is the government. Make no mistake, there is nothing else getting in the way between the people who lived here taking care of those people, than the government.
“We need a larger, more sheltered location than the Cornwall site or City Hall. We need at least 100 shelters, and we can do the rest. Take on the liability. You missed the opportunity to do it by the book several months ago. Finally, Base Camp is not housing, and is not functional, as evidenced by those who have either declined to go there or are not permitted to stay there. It’s homelessness with a roof. We can keep people from spiraling down if you will provide these shelters. We can save their humanity. Thank you.”
9/4/21 PART ELEVEN: The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The first public comment of the night is Joe at 00:40:26 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=2426):
“Yes, can you hear me, please? Hello, my name is Joe… I live in the Samish neighborhood. I’ve lived in Bellingham since 1996. I’ve been cleaning up the graffiti on the side of City Hall on Saturday afternoon, after watching a replay of your January 11 video.”
This is an excerpt of Joe’s public comment. You can find the complete public comment at this link: (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=2426).
9/4/21 PART TWELVE: The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The second public comment of the night is Jorie at 00:44:06 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=2646):
“Hi, I prepared something to say before this meeting, but I just wanted to start with some replies to what Mayor Fleetwood had said earlier in the meeting.
“When you say someone could draw a parallel, I just want to point out that there’s a direct quote from a news source where you drew that parallel between Friday and the storming of the Capitol building in D.C. And you’ve also been ignoring deplorable acts by white supremacists who regularly torment and threaten campers and volunteers, including on Friday, and everyday since.
“And I want to know what about the health and safety of campers? And in what ways is the encampment coming to a close other than you deciding that you’re ready to stop pretending to be an ally and violently sweep, because any sweep is a violent sweep.
“You know who doesn’t support this action? People on the City Hall lawn. And you are the aggressors and you are the oppressors if you sweep, because sweeps kill.
“And now for my prepared comment – On January 11th you said our Council is fully dedicated to a commitment to making a better, more equitable world. Fast forward to today, January 25th, you are depriving our houseless neighbors of basic hygiene services by directing sanitary services to not remove trash or empty the port-a-potties at City Hall, and threatening City Hall campers with a sweep.
“This is directly making the world, Bellingham specifically, less equitable to a group of people who are already struggling [unable to distinguish] equity in this City and this society. I am firmly against this action you have taken against the camp at City Hall.
“When I was at City Hall on Friday, I was flipped off by old white people, yelled at and threatened by white people from their vehicles as they passed by, and all the while I watched, as volunteers and campers carried on caring for each other, providing meals, resources, friendship for each other. And they were providing community care, something non-profits are inherently incapable of doing, due to their structure.
“I saw parents bringing their kids by, explaining that all humans deserve housing first, people having conversations about solutions, something you’ve not done. Instead you flee through the back door with your overpaid cops and instead you made the choice to exaggerate the supposed threat of a sit in in a public space with right-wing media outlets ate up and it further endangered us.
“You’re making a choice to perpetuate the violence houseless individuals face everyday. And y’all are making David Duke proud. I suggest you listen to why people at City Hall don’t feel safe using services like Base Camp. I suggest you listen to why we need a no-barrier non-hierarchical option for housing.
“I’m asking that you not sweep vulnerable people from the lawn at City Hall and that you reinstate the sanitary services, as a start. Time and time again, you’ve shown us citizens that you’re only here to make landlords rich and white people comfortable. I think you have a lot of work to do to prove you’re as progressive and anti-racist as you think you are. Even then, you’d still have much more work to do so I’d suggest you get started right now. I yield my time.”
Here is a link to Mayor Fleetwood’s January 25, 2021 remarks related to events that happened at City Hall on Friday, January 22, 2021. Jorie referred to some of this material in her comment: https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=414
9/5/21 PART THIRTEEN: The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The third public comment of the night is Emma at 00:47:26 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=2846)
“Hi there, can you all hear me? I really appreciate this opportunity to speak. I also wanted to say that I echo all of the remarks by Jorie…
“I would like to say just a couple responses to Mayor Fleetwood and just, also, kind of talk about my experience on Friday. So, on Friday I came to camp. I saw the request for help. My time there was wonderful. I got to interact with a lot of the residents at the encampment. I spent time picking up garbage. It was actually pretty clean. It was organized.
“I’d like to say that if you were wanting to have residents in the encampment move 25 feet in response to dangerous conditions, that that would actually be creating additional dangerous conditions, and that the CDC has recommended that sweeps be suspended because you would be forcing people to move camps either closer together or to leave the encampment space.
“The majority of the people there were people like me. Young people and passionate, powerful young people. I have been a resident of Bellingham,Washington since 2000. I am only 22. I do go to Western Washington University. I love this city. I am proud to be a resident for most of my life. I am no longer proud.
“I would like to hear some more transparency about the heinous crimes that you have talked about being committed. And I would also like to emphasize that there needs to be no-barrier housing.
“The Base Camp is not an adequate space for houseless people to be just told to go to as an option from the encampment. There is limited space at the Base Camp and not enough space for all of the people at Camp 210.
“There needs to be no-barrier housing. There are people who have been kicked out and are not able to return to Base Camp. What are those individuals supposed to do?
“There are people who have had traumatic or disrespectful experiences with staff at Base Camp – which is a religious organization, and I don’t think that’s talked about enough. Religion can be wonderful and beautiful and I’m inspired by those people having faith to try and create housing options for people. But if someone isn’t Christian and they feel uncomfortable being forced to pray, that’s a little weird to me.
“I’d like you to acknowledge what action has been done to create this no-barrier housing. And I’m sorry, I’m pretty fired up. I just am very concerned and worried that if there is not adequate shelter created, that people will freeze; people will die. You will have death on your hands.
“And I just want to address that I think that in big groups people tend to get very passionate and inspired by each other and maybe I do think that some of the actions were intense. But I appreciate your time and I yield the rest of mine. Thank you.”
Here is a link to Mayor Fleetwood’s January 25, 2021 remarks related to events that happened at City Hall on Friday, January 22, 2021. Emma referred to some of this material in her comment: https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=414
9/5/21 PART FOURTEEN: The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The fourth public comment of the night is Wesley at 00:50:35 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=3035):
“Can you hear me? Thank you very much. I’ve lived in Bellingham not that long, about two years now. And it’s a nice little community and I appreciate the beauty that it offers.”
This is an excerpt of Wesley’s comment. You can find the complete public comment at this link: https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=3035
9/5/21 PART FIFTEEN The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The fifth public comment of the night is Kris at 53:41 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=3221):
“Hello, can you hear me? Hello? Oh, you can. Okay, cool, thank you. Seth, there seems to be a disparity of information regarding how the door was opened – whether it was pried open or opened by an employee and then people simply walked in. Either way, they left shortly later when asked to leave.
“You compare the people walking into the door to the insurrection in DC. You directly said that. That is a shameful comparison to make, that disgraces a long history of protests in our country. Even in your opening comments you claimed that the media had sensationalized the story, then backpedaled and drew the comparison again.
“Direct the right resources to these houseless people. Protect the people being threatened by white supremacists. People need help. Why are you not leading these protests, Seth?
“And Rick, regarding the – Rick Larsen – haven’t talked to you in awhile, but regarding the vaccinations in school districts – they’re not approved for children. As important as it is for – to protect our faculty and staff working with children, how are you preparing for uniform guidance to school districts to protect young children from infecting each other. Thank you.”
Here is a link to Mayor Fleetwood’s January 25, 2021 remarks related to events that happened at City Hall on Friday, January 22, 2021. Kris referred to some of this material in his comment: https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=414
9/6/21 PART SIXTEEN The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The sixth public comment of the night is Lindy at 00:55:07 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=3307):
“Yes, I’m here. So, a few previous speakers have commented that we need no-barrier options for shelters in Bellingham.”
This is an excerpt of Lindy’s comment. You can find the complete public comment at this link: https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=3307
9/6/21 PART SEVENTEEN The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The seventh public comment of the night is Sandy at 00:58:26 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=3506):
“Yes, good evening. Sandy…,Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism. Mayor and City Council Members, as you know the tourism and hospitality industry has been devastated by COVID-19.”
This is an excerpt of Sandy’s comment. You can find the complete public comment at this link: https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=3506
9/6/21 PART EIGHTEEN The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The eighth public comment of the night is Katie at 1:00:44 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=3644):
“Hello, my name is Katie… and I take an interest in the homeless community. As a mental health worker who has had the privilege of serving many homeless individuals like those on the lawn, I do not support the violence that has sadly occurred over the last week at City Hall. However, I do think that stopping sanitation services and outhouse services to the lawn is ultimately a disservice to Whatcom County citizens, in general.
“In addition to the individuals camped on City Hall lawn, there are many more, dispersed in tents throughout out community. It is the job of our local government to provide an accessible and equitable solution. Until we have a solution for more Housing First shelter options in our community, it is inhumane to stop serving those on the lawn.
“Until we have a solution, we are merely asking those who struggle to do so in hiding. It is inhumane and unacceptable. Thank you, and I yield my time.”
9/7/21 PART NINETEEN The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The ninth public comment of the night is Michelle at 1:02:01 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=3721):
“Yes, are you able to hear me? Okay, great. I just wanted to address the comments earlier. It was a lot about perception. And if we are worried about perception, then maybe we can prioritize housing folks, so we’re not in this situation at all.
“But I’d like to start off by saying, hi, my name is Michelle, I am a resident of the lettered streets neighborhood and I pass by Camp 210 regularly, as many of us do. I’m a City planner, and I understand that like many situations, this one has deep context, nuance, and paradox.
“After the summer, many residents have committed themselves to equity and deeply care about envisioning anorher world. And I’m not going to spend this time reiterating the demands of the Camp volunteers who know more about the situation than I do.
“However, I intend to make my time about the assertion about striving for a “better and more equitable and more sustainable world,” as the Mayor had stated in his January 11th comments.
“To that I say, we cannot state we are moving toward equity and sustainability without uncomfortably evaluating the parts of our places we call home that are deeply inequitable.
Not providing housing services to people who have nowhere else to go is deeply harmful, and it does not align with the goals as stated by our mayor, or even who we are as a community.
“Housing is not just about equity, it’s also about sustainability. And, as many items cannot be reused because they’re not protected by permanent housing structures, it leaves the 210 community, who is unhoused, with environmental inequity, as well.
“They are our neighbors, and if we believe in equity, then as public servants, we also believe that housing is a right and that they are deserving of that right, so they can be part of the community that we are all so fortunate to be a part of here in Bellingham.
“With Camp 210, we are faced with a possibility to squarely look at what is making us uncomfortable as residents. And many of us are pleading that you act with equity in your hearts and in your actions by offering no-barrier shelters for everyone on the lawn, so no – and no lawn sweep before doing so.
“Reaching equity is meant to be uncomfortable. If it wasn’t uncomfortable, we would have already achieved it. So, to those who are stating comments about perception, I hope we can look at what is causing the misperception and discomfort first. Thank you.”
9/7/21 PART TWENTY The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The tenth public comment of the night is Markis at 1:04:38 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=3878):
“Hello, do you hear me okay? Okay, great. I just – I know that there’s a lot of impassioned stuff going on out there and I’m just gonna try to – I’m gonna ask us all to please refocus on what the main problem is. And it is that these people are going to need some shelters before they die, wherever they are, whether they get chased back into the woods or whether they die right there on the lawn at City Hall for political reasons.
“I am deeply disturbed by all of the activities that have happened in the last week over this – in the last several days. I think that it was inappropriate and arbitrary to be trying to establish a 25ft. zone around the building there. I think that – I think it’s really a massive health hazard to have shut off port-a-pottie clean up.
“You have to excuse me, please. I’m a little bit addled because I’m on pain meds for the hip replacement recently. So, guys, please, can we all do this together now? We need to get the shelters that are necessary. Let’s help the County to shoulder the load of getting the tiny homes that we’re going to need.
“I’m still thinking it’s going to need to be somewhere around 75. We need to put 75 more online and have a big enough site with promise for expansion. You also need to be versatile enough to understand that there’s more people who may need to also not-die.
“So we need to get them in one location into small villages, where we can parse them out in a sensible way and help sort them out according to the services that they need. This is not rocket science. This is something that should have been done by government.
“I share many of the views that I’ve heard tonight from both sides. I’m tired of this too. Nobody wants to see these people living in tents. Tents are not viable shelter, and we all know that. Nobody wants to see them in the doorways of Holly Street again either. We really must move forward now.
“The inevitable has already happened. It’s inevitable that more problems will occur because of the absolute desperation that we see on the ground right now. This is beyond unconscionable. We have no participation from government in the actual boots-on-the-ground-helping out there on any level, and only further restrictions being handed down to these people.
“I do not associate with any of the violence or any of the groups actually. I don’t associate with the government as a government person, other than I’ve been appointed the homeless advocate for Whatcom County on the Homeless Strategies Workgroup. But my role is advisory and I have been there every step of the way and I intend to stay every step of the way to try to calmly get ourselves to the point where we can shelter these people and save their lives and then we can work on getting services to them together.
“A great, cogent plan has been put forward by myself. Others have put up a lot of paralleling plans. You are just not engaging them. I share the views, like I say, along with many other people. This thing needs to be [unable to distinguish]but not because it needs to be cleaned, because people need to survive.”
9/7/21 PART TWENTY-ONE The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The tenth public comment of the night is Red at 1:07:54 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=4074):
“Hello, can you hear me? Cool. Since you are all not aware, especially Seth, of the extent of your power radicalizing white supremacists, I encourage you, Seth, particularly to actually finish the book you told everybody about, ‘cause white fragility was all that was displayed the day of the protest.
“Let me enlighten you all on how you manage to mobilize fascism and white supremacy onto your own constituents while playing victim the whole time and claiming the individuals were anything like the racist capitol protestors recently when it’s you that is a racist nationalist.
“Since you, Seth Fleetwood decided to talk to Fox News, right wing media sensationalized a simple sit-in, you have successfully managed to radicalize white supremacists within all the systems of governance.
“Here is a more up-front example on this. After you said your piece, Seth, we have had white supremacists attack camp, racists brandishing guns and yelling racial slurs at the houseless community living at City Hall. You spoke of civility, but you have none because you have the cops watching these folks constantly, but you don’t call the cops on the white supremacists.
“No, you call because people burned the flag and staged a sit-in at City Hall. The hatcheted individual is on Facebook displaying his beliefs clearly and they are one of the white supremacists who have come to camp to antagonize and brandish weapons. It’s all public knowledge.”
This is an excerpt of Red’s comment. You can listen to the full comment at this link: https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=4074
9/8/21 PART TWENTY-TWO The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The twelfth public comment of the night is Katherine at 1:11:13 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=4273):
“Can you hear me? Alright, so I’ve been down at, you know, the camp since the first week, as a homeless advocate, interviewing these people, and their needs, surveying it – been doing that for two months. Haven’t been there most recently.
“And I was instructed by Opportunity Council, instructed by Base Camp, you know, how to do this, how to get these people back in, because apparently there’s a path; there’s resources available. I, personally, was yelled at at Base Camp, and I know many other volunteers have been, as well.
“I finally met with Bill and he was very nice. He gave me instructions. You know, I said I’m just trying to help these people. And we followed instructions, and I still can’t get any calls back. We were supposed to call in to find their pathway. There’s red flags, yellow flags – all this fancy stuff on paper. And it’s just simply not true.
“They’re not letting people back in – certain people. And there is no resources available for them. We’ve been asking for at least two months. Can you imagine living in your home and you leave your home for anything and all your stuff is gone?
“You know, we’re just trying to save lives out here and I’m tired of the fallacies. I’m also particularly tired of all – I don’t know all – but a lot of these non-profits hanging housing over their heads to get them to cooperate, so that they can put their ideals on people. Housing should not be held over anyone’s head. It’s everyone’s right to have food, clothing, and shelter.
“The perceptions on the Bellingham City Council meeting blows my mind because, literally, everyone deserves food, clothing, and shelter. And I can’t seem to see why we keep talking about it and can’t get anything done – these fancy dances.
“Yes, Council, you guys work hard. I can’t imagine doing your job and the fancy dance you have to do to appease everybody. But these are human beings that fell through the crack, that we’re talking about. And these services are not there for them.
“I have been on the ground working at this with a number of volunteers. And Base Camp is lying. Opportunity Council, where are they? They’ve barely been there. You’ve got all these resources and people can not have access to stuff when they can’t leave their homes.
“It’s everybody’s right to have food, clothing, and shelter. So, I appreciate we live in Bellingham, where you know, we’re trying to listen to every one, trying to build community, trying to work together. But man, with the perceptions we deal, the stereo-types – these are literally people’s lives.
“I appreciate everyone, and I remember hearing something on one of the meetings where we keep good work in tact. But there’s a lot of fishy business going on. And if you were to come down and volunteer, you’d find out for yourself. And unless you’re down there by your – for your own eyes, you won’t know it. There’s so many lies being spread.”
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
9/8/21 PART TWENTY-THREE The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The thirteenth public comment of the night is Anya at 1:14:24 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=4464):
“Hello, thank you for this time. Can you hear me? Thank you. My family has lived on this unceded Coast Salish land for four generations. I am a young professional from WWU’s Human Services program, where I learned the foundational wisdom which prepares social workers for their careers.
“What you see is systemic. Everything. We are all connected, and to take care of others is to care of ourself. To neglect each other is to neglect ourself.
“Katherine is right. There are not enough services available. Our city, and most of America, it seems, has been sold the myth that an individual is completely responsible for their lot in life.
“It takes a village and if anything, COVID has laid our interconnectedness bare. We adapt now, or we let people die. This myth distracts us from systems, bureaucracies, and budgets that do not serve to sustain our collective, only those that the system is designed to serve.
“Instead, the system chooses to leave hundreds unsheltered for months, during the pandemic – now, without access to clean bathrooms, port-a-potties, trash, and sewage wat- sewage, and clean drinking water. These items, shelter, water, sewage are environmental and humanitarian priorities.
“Therefore, the City has regressed Bellingham’s public safety by denying Camp 210 their basic human rights. Common decency and progress toward City goals has been lost.
“It is a City goal to steward our environment and our watershed. And by refusing to invest in basic services, such as housing, and relying on overwhelmed, underprepared non-profits, the City has neglected its systemic responsibility to the people and the earth.
“You serve all constituents, regardless of property ownership – address, or no address. The City has put our neighbors at increased risk, and therefore, systemically, the front-line workers, nurses and volunteers, at increased risk of illness during this global pandemic, as sewage and waste are COVID-19 contagion hazards, let alone toxic to the watershed and wildlife which is also our responsibility to care for.
“It is the City’s responsibility to take accountability for the ineptitude at preparedness planning, for Housing First works, and saves money, reduces waste, and saves lives in the long run. You, the City, our elected officials, have the duty and the privilege to create true public safety by addressing the root cause of Camp 210 and provide the services needed for public health and safety.
“Housing First works. And Representative Inslee, if there’s not enough vaccine, we need to focus on different systemic solutions, including a Housing First model and basic human rights for all, no matter what their criminal status or addiction status is, as addiction is caused by some disconnection or trauma in a systemic way.”
9/8/21 PART TWENTY-FOUR The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The fourteenth public comment of the night is Julie at 1:17:46 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=4666):
“Can you hear me? Okay, I’d like to echo all the comments of my constituents on their experience and mental health standpoint.
“I am a senior at Western Washington University in Fairhaven College, double-majoring in urban planning and sustainable development with [indistiguishable] concentration on food security. This is my work.
“I have just started immersing myself in Camp 210 on Friday after I alerted – I was alerted about the sweep. I am also a journalist working for the school. I am in a unique position, as are you. Journalists are not trusted and neither is government and your professional state.
“According to the Whatcom County Coalition to End Homelessness 2020 Annual Report, there is 707 homeless people: 103 are under 18, 29% of youth have been self-reported mental health disability; 38% of youth identify as LGBTQ; and American Indian/Alaska Natives comprise 2.7% of the population but are 8% in the counted homeless population.
“To prevent these numbers from climbing, we should acknowledge that, ‘proximity breeds care and distance breeds fear,’ a quote by YouTuber Emmanuel Acho on segments of, ‘Uncomfortable conversations with a Black Man.’ He was talking to white police officers.
“By creating more proximity from the camp you are breeding fear. These people do not have basic human rights, and society is fearful of that. We need to change that. The negligence of the homelessness is negligence of the health of the City.
“When I asked my father to park at Glass Beach – a place I am fond of – he says he doesn’t want to because he doesn’t want to look at the homeless people. To me the cold-hearted lack of empathy seething from his mouth, not only makes me realize his character, but the toxic – his toxic privilege.
“How are you keeping aware of your privilege? You are sweeping the problem away, just like putting dust under a rug. Please don’t perpetuate the problem. Instead, change the system.
“So, what can we do as people who are in Camp 210 and helping out as advocates? Peaceful protest was in order, but the values of each political group was different. The people who stormed the halls of City Hall had the – and the incident with the hatchet which – do not represent the whole population of homeless individuals.
“Sleeping outside in the streets, homeless people are jumped by American citizens. I know this because I have had numerous friends sleeping outside. Yes there was a hatchet incident, but I would like to remind the audience that the government does what it can, but people need sources of personal protection.
“I’d like to remind the audience, I’ve only been to the camp once. Take that what you will, but I know that despite religion, politics, and race, I instantly noticed an abundance of love and passion to motivate each other to fix this issue.
“From understanding one another, as you are doing with this meeting, there is vital moments to create a sense of respect and love.
“I’d like to conclude that homelesss people are vital life of complex web of City life and we need to work together, trust the collective, and allocate money, charitable governmental will help prevent the growing issue of homelessness. We need [indistiguishable] barrier housing not dispersed housing.”
Time was called. The comment was ended by Council.
9/9/21 PART TWENTY-FIVE The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The fifteenth public comment of the night is Jessie at 1:21:05 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=4865):
“Hi, can you hear me? Cool. I’m a volunteer at Camp two one o. I am born and raised in Bellingham, Washington. There are about 75 to 100 people at City Hall, with many others gathering in the daytime for food, drink, and resources.
“I understand that what happened last Friday is unsettling for our community, especially in the wake of what occurred in Washington, D.C. But I was there, working in the food tent, providing coffee, cocoa and hot food, as well as helping people find tents, supplies, and alternative options, including Base Camp, Housing First, etc.
‘Yes, people were angry. A combination of community members, campers, and volunteers were present. Approximately 100 people showed up, in addition to campers and volunteers, to support the camp.
“About 20 people, when seeing Seth Fleetwood looking out the window of his office, made demands for him to come out and speak to the community. It was loud and abrasive. I understand being scared in that situation.
“The door was rattled and pulled on, and at some point, I don’t know how, the door came open. Nothing was broken. The building was occupied for twenty minutes, with most people sitting calmly in a circle. No one at the Mayor’s desk – no one sat at the Mayor’s desk or tore down statues. And everyone left peacefully, as asked.
“In normal times, City Hall is open to the public at 11 a.m. on a Friday. And it’s a common place for the community to gather and express their needs. There was graffiti done outside, which I was not, personally, happy about, and that’s just me, as a person, and want to support getting cleaned up. Campers also expressed their distress with the graffiti.
“However, Camp two one o is an autonomous space. The people that occupied, which I consider much closer to a sit-in than a storm, decided to do that for themselves, and not necessarily for the larger group.
“On Saturday morning, a teenage volunteer came down, with support from their parents and fellow volunteers, to organize a pancake breakfast on a sunny day. We spoke with our neighbors, both housed and houseless, and while they expressed anxiety about the potential, imminent sweep, they also spoke about anger and frustration with the lack of respect for human rights during the housing crisis.
“I personally request the City of Bellingham, and Whatcom County to provide us with 75 homes with low to no-barrier access in a site with power, water, and basic resources like restrooms and waste disposable. I also request immediate resources for restrooms and waste disposable at Camp two one o.
“25 houses has been offered. That is not enough. In addition, basic needs like garbage and restrooms have been stripped from us. This sickens me. There are a variety of reasons why houseless people are not able to access other services that have been offered. We have volunteers and energy to support this mission.”
PART TWENTY-SIX The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The sixteenth public comment of the night is Tristen at 1:25:03 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=5103):
“Hi, can you hear me? You are using what occurred, January 22, as a scapegoat to push for violent sweeps and give yourself an excuse as to why it’s okay not to provide housing, and allows many to suffer/die this winter.
“Your sweeps just puts our houseless neighbors out of view, into the woods, so you don’t have to watch the conditions you have created, so you don’t have to be uncomfortable.
“Where do they go? Barrier housing has proved to not work. And this is the true safety issue during these weather and pandemic conditions.
“When I first moved here in 2018, the first thing I noticed was our houseless neighbors suffering and dying. Tourists, children, people see it whether it’s on City Hall or not.
“You are a coward politician, proving to constituents you are exactly what you said you wouldn’t be.
“Lastly, I just want to say that I think it’s dehumanizing to say the houseless can’t sit in a public building made to allow citizens to express their needs on a Friday at 11:00 a.m., when the building is usually unlocked. Sit-ins are an important part of any movement, and what better place to do it than a building made for public comment?
“Your – yes your, because you were the first to make that comparison, Seth – comparison to the Capitol, is just insulting and sounds to me like you are saying our houseless neighbors are not human enough to be considered for public comment.
“The blood of the folks who die this winter are on your hands, Seth. Lives over property. Lives over perception. Lives over putting money in your own pockets. Thank you.”
The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The fourteenth public comment of the night is Tristen at 1:25:03 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=5103):
“Hi, can you hear me? You are using what occurred, January 22 as a scapegoat to push for violent sweeps and give yourself an excuse as to why it’s okay not to provide housing and allows many to suffer/die this winter.
“Your sweeps just puts our houseless neighbors out of view, into the woods, so you don’t have to watch the conditions you have created, so you don’t have to be uncomfortable.
“Where do they go? Barrier housing has proved to not work. And this is the true safety issue during these weather and pandemic conditions.
“When I first moved here in 2018, the first thing I noticed was our houseless neighbors suffering and dying. Tourists, children, people, see it whether it’s on City Hall or not.
“You are a coward politician, proving to constituents you are exactly what you said you wouldn’t be.
“Lastly, I just want to say that I think it’s dehumanizing to say the houseless can’t sit in a public building made to allow citizens to express their needs on a Friday at 11:00 a.m., when the building is usually unlocked. Sit-ins are an important part of any movement, and what better place to do it than a building made for public comment?
“Your – yes your, because you were the first to make that comparison, Seth – comparison to the Capitol, is just insulting and sounds to me like you are saying our houseless neighbors are not human enough to be considered for public comment.
“The blood of the folks who die this winter are on your hands, Seth. Lives over property. Lives over perception. Lives over putting money in your own pockets. Thank you.”
PART TWENTY-SEVEN The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The seventeenth public comment of the night is Bodi at 1:26:45 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=5205):
“Hey, can you hear me? Aright, so, urgent help is needed. The situation at Camp 210 has never been more dire. The need for support from community has never been more immediate. The level of danger for the houseless individuals at camp has never been higher.
“Now is the time to redouble our efforts to provide food, clothing, warmth, safety, to pressure our elected officials to provide emergency shelter in the short-term, no-barrier, no-cost housing for the long-term.
“Mayor Fleetwood compared the events on Friday, which made national and international news, like Breitbart and Fox News, to the storming of the Capitol on January 6.
“This is dangerous. There’s a universe of difference between people entering City Hall to sit and white supremacists breaking into the Country’s Capitol with the intent to capture and potentially execute elected officials in an effort to overthrow an election.
“The ramifications of this abhorrent false equivalence has been and increase in threats of violence towards our houseless neighbors at camp; housed individuals driving through camp in loud trucks and honking their horns in the middle of the night to prevent campers from sleeping; brandishing weapons towards campers; and many people posting vile, reprehensible messages of hatred toward the residents of camp on social media.
“The fact that some people care more about graffiti on City Hall than they do about living human beings, is beyond me.
“Additionally, the City has stopped port-a-potty and garbage services at camp, the result of which will be an immediate public health crisis. Without basic sanitation services, the risk of illness and diseases multiplies exponentially.
“These actions seem to point to the City preparing to sweep the camp in full, using the actions on Friday as justification for doing so. This is morally bankrupt and void of basic care for our fellow human beings.
“Individuals who live in houses in the neighborhood aren’t a monolith, and neither are our houseless neighbors in Camp 210. They’re Marie, Autumn, Buster, Melissa, Jack, Lonnie, Sasha, Jacob, Eric, individuals with hopes and dreams, love and empathy, skills and integrity.
“Strip away the walls on all our houses and we would see an equal number of hard workers, couples in love, individuals battling addiction, demons being faced, and folks striving for the good.
“Sweeping the camp will do nothing but disperse our houseless neighbors at the height of winter, in the midst of the greatest public health crisis of the century. It will undoubtedly lead to death.
“We all need one another. There are countless times in all of our lives where we only survive through the kindness of strangers. Right here, right now, we have the opportunity to act, to let love guide us, let community unite us, and not let hate divide us. Thank you, and I yield my time.”
9/10/21 PART TWENTY-EIGHT The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The eighteenth public comment of the night is Heather at 1:29:37 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=5377):
“Hi Council. Heather…American-born, voting citizen in Whatcom County. Hello, Mayor Seth and City Council. I am grateful our winter so far has not been as severe as past winters. And I’m grateful for the neighbors who are respectful to each other and who share their time and resources with both their friends and strangers.
“I’m hearing today from the City reports that the time has ended for those living their lives on our Lottie lawns. What I’m not hearing is the location of where these neighbors can move to, that is, whether a medium-barrier emergency tiny village, or public/private location.
“I recall there’s no longer camping outside the Mission’s building, and that in past years there were many who camped outside when they were turned away at the Mission’s doors.
“When I talk to my homeless neighbors, I let them know I’m concerned for their well-being and that wherever they move to – as we both know, they are moved along constantly by City law enforcement – wherever they move to, we will find them, we will see them, and we will not give up, as a community, until each person has safe shelter.
“It’s incorrect for anyone in our state health department to imply that the majority of citizens who are unsheltered or sleeping on our Lottie Street lawns are dangerous. It is incorrect for the state to imply that any person who is homeless, living outside is choosing that living situation.
“Friday night when I was walking in town, I met an elder citizen who was living on Lottie lawn. He thanked me for stopping to visit him. He feared his desire was that no matter what his past mistakes he made in the past, his desire was to be remembered as a person who lived his life in gratitude.
“He was very grateful for the basic pallet hut that was screwed together by the aid of another camping resident, and covered with a plastic tarp,\: a simple emergency shelter that would withstand wind storms or snow storms, that previously had flattened his tents.
“Many of our citizens who are unsheltered do not have cell phones nor internet. Of the ones I speak with, I would estimate that 10% have access to cell phones or computers. For the record, they do not have access to listening to our public meetings, nor to giving public comment. The public library that used to have computer access is closed.
“I appreciate the previous speakers who state their personal witness of their care of our neighbors who are experiencing being temporarily homeless. It’s very hard to remain calm when your life is being threatened, but calm and courageous many of us will remain. I yield my time. Thank you.”
9/10/21 PART TWENTY-NINE The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The ninteenth public comment of the night is abie at 1:32:54 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=5574):
“Hi, can you hear me? My name is abie. I have lived in Bellingham for the last 6 years. I am not a university student. I am a working professional. And I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Coast Salish people and specifically the Lummi people who have been stewards of this land since time immemorial and are leading efforts to care for their land and their people.
“I would like to echo the statements made by my fellow comrades and neighbors regarding the alleged concerns around Camp 210.
“And I would like to respond directly to Seth and the claims that you’ve made about the threats to public safety that you’ve observed at Camp 210.
“How dare you say that public safety is threatened, not by the dire conditions of houseless-ness in the midst of a pandemic in the winter, but by staff who are allegedly threatened while working inside in a locked building?
“How do you distance yourself from the connection that you explicitly drew between a white supremacist action of storming the U.S. Capitol and a rebellion of our community’s most vulnerable who have been continuously neglected and dehumanized, deprived of basic human rights of housing and health care.
“I find it appalling that the City’s actions to protect public health include closing public buildings and a failure to open any accessible sheltering option. The City is intentionally depriving our neighbors of basic access to sanitary services like restrooms and garbage pickup.
“Our public services are willingly placing our neighbors’ lives at risk by refusing to allow ambulances to come anywhere near Camp 210.
“Our neighbors lives are at risk, and I understand that many were unsettled by what took place on Friday. And I want to say that this should not come as a surprise. This has been going on for months.
“And Friday was Treaty Day and I would like to make a request to all of our City Council Members and specifically to Seth. Please read the Treaty of Point Elliot. I suspect that you have not. And I would like you to honor the treaties.
“I would also like to address the claims that have been made regarding the despicable violence and the heinous crimes that were committed and just say that property damage is not violence. Paint is not violence. Property can be replaced, lives cannot. And lives are being lost.
“Absolutely nothing that happened this weekend makes any resident of Camp 210 any less deserving of housing or support. Every single one of our community members deserves support and there’s not going to be a single solution to it all. We need solidarity, not charity. We need housing now. Stop the sweeps.”
9/10/21 PART THIRTY The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The twentieth public comment of the night is Eve at 1:36:01 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=5761):
“Hi, can you hear me? Thank you. My name is Eve…I am a teacher, sister, renter, and I speak from the unceded lands of the Coast Salish people.
“First off, the comparison made by the Mayor concerning last Friday is dangerous, false, and has encouraged violence against our unhoused friends. There’s a vast difference between people entering City Hall to honor the age-old tradition of a sit-in, and the white supremacists breaking into the Capitol, armed with weapons, with the intent to capture and potentially execute elected officials in order to overthrow an election.
“Second, I am ashamed of our community for caring more about reputation and perception than community health. Only one week ago, we celebrated the Reverend Dr. King and his never-ending pursuit of justice. How are we continuing to follow his path? How are we showing up for justice in our community? We cannot only act in his image one day a year.
“We need to celebrate and put into action Dr. King’s words every single day. In his words, “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever effects one directly, effects all indirectly.” Each of us is responsible for one another and yet here we are, Bellingham, seemingly comfortable with sacrificing people’s lives for the comfort of the privileged.
“After an entire summer of Bellingham Police sweeping camps and none of you lifting a finger to prevent those sweeps, despite CDC recommendations, despite the 9th District Court ruling, despite Markis advocating for a stop to sweeps every single meeting of every week, we found ourselves inching towards winter with no emergency winter shelter.
“After a summer of throwing away people’s belongings and exposing our most vulnerable to the threat of COVID and the elements, we find ourselves here, with more than 100 campers surviving in community on the City Hall lawn.
“In community, Camp 210 has survived wind storms, snowfall, torrential rain, abuse at the hands of housed community members, false-hope offered without remorse from our government and daily needs that are met as much as they can be.
“It seems the City and County never had the intention to provide emergency winter shelter. It seems the City and County were hoping to do nothing this winter for those in need. It seems the City is only committed to the community that owns property, as if that is a quantifier to what you deserve as a human being.
“The sweep is confrontation. The sweep is aggression. The sweep is violence. How can a sweep be the correct response to trauma, to mental health, to poverty, to racism, and sexism, transphobia?
“At camp we respond to trauma with informed care and love. We respond to mental health with space and empowerment. We respond to poverty with mutual aid. And we hold each other accountable for harmful behavior.
“Who is holding you accountable for your harmful behavior? A group of working-class humans with jobs, schools, families, are navigating COVID life and engaging with their unhoused neighbors, building a community together.
“And what are you doing leaving behind our veterans, our youth, our vulnerable, our most impacted community? Sweeping them into a different corner? Perhaps one that is less seen?
“We need emergency winter shelter now for everybody at City Hall. We need permanent affordable housing now. We need to house our unhoused neighbors, we need to show up with love. We have the resources. We have the people. We have the energy. Let’s do this the right way. Let us be accountable to ourselves and each other and house our human family. Thank you.”
9/11/21 PART THIRTY-ONE The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The twenty-first public comment of the night is Maria at 1:40:04 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=6004):
“Can you hear me? Hi, I’m calling just to express my support of the Camp 210 and its volunteers. I do not support the extremely harmful lawn sweep.
“And as a housed resident in Bellingham, I urge the City to offer no-barrier shelter for everyone on the lawn and for there to just be no lawn sweep. Thank you and I yield my time.”
9/11/21 PART THIRTY-TWO The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The twenty-second public comment of the night is Nicole at 1:40:33 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=6033):
“Hi, my name is Nicole…and I am calling to vehemently oppose the stance that the City has taken on the encampment at City Hall.
“Mayor, your actions have been deplorable. Your comparison of what happened on Friday to the white supremacist hissy fit in Washington D.C. would be laughable, if it weren’t so violent.
“A group of people opening the doors to the lobby of the building, sitting inside, and then leaving when the police arrived is hardly the blockbuster plot-line that you’d like to imagine for yourself.
“If this action were so terrifying and violent, why were no arrests made? Why did the police simply leave after the group walked back outside?
“What’s truly disgusting about this is, not just the comparison of people standing up for human decency, with entitled white supremacists. It’s the fact that your comparison has actually encouraged entitled white supremacists to increase their presence and intimidation at camp.
“People with the absolute least regard for humanity and the most contempt for people living without shelter have been emboldened to constantly harass the camp in a multitude of ways.
“And you know what’s worse? Afterwards, all of these people go back to their heated homes, sleep in beds, and get up the next morning to be encouraged by your rhetoric of some imagined monster that’s living at Camp 210.
“These are people, and your demonization is inhumane. Instead of using your position to lead with integrity, you’re shrinking into cowardice and doubling down on your lack of care.
“You say that the actions of protestors that day put the homeless more at risk. I’m overcome with the audacity you would have to make that statement, when you have watched with absolute apathy as 100 people on your lawn have suffered through freezing temperatures, constant rain, and repeated wind storms that warranted extreme weather advisories.
“And after all of that, you threaten to sweep the entire lawn without anywhere for its residents to go. You say that you seek a peaceful end to the encampment, but there is absolutely nothing peaceful about destroying people’s homes and a hub for community support.
“You say the City will not be aggressors, but what exactly is un-aggressive about armed police officers removing people through physical force, threat of incarceration, or both?
“Everyday that you neglect to use your power to house these individuals and continue to vilify them and their allies, you are putting their lives at risk.
“To a few of the previous commenters, you were embarrassed about the optics of your image while people are literally freezing to death outside. Get your priorities together. Your lack of awareness of the reality of the situation is, quite frankly, the most embarrassing thing about Bellingham.
“And to the rest of City Council, where are you? Council President Hannah Stone came to the encampment on Friday and said she was unaware of the notice of the sweep. She said there’s little communication between the Mayor and the Council on what has been happening with Camp 210. Why are you not demanding this communication? Why are you not standing up for the people down there? Are these people not your constituents, as well?
“You’re all smart. You’re all educated. You understand power dynamics, bias, and the historical vilification of the poor by those in power and the media who serve them. I don’t believe that you’re naive. I believe you are complicit. I yield my time.”
9/11/21 PART THIRTY-THREE The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The twenty-third public comment of the night is Lauren at 1:43:49 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=6229):
“Hi, good evening. My name is Lauren…I’m 28. I was born here in Bellingham. I went to Western. I’m living on Coast Salish territory. I work for a local non-profit that serves this community’s mental health needs and I’m also an elected leader from the 42nd Legislative Democrats. But tonight my statements and views are entirely my own.
“I urge this Council to align with this City’s residents who are experiencing houseless-ness, and commit to not sweeping the 210 Lottie camp. There are families, veterans, and individuals, and more, who have benefitted tremendously from central access to emergency no-barrier sheltering that is offered at 210.
“The effort from folks in the community to support the camp is such a beautiful work of many hands and hearts. I’ve seen it first hand. The meal train organizing, the streams of donated food, clothes, and volunteer time and compassion, proves that this camp deserves more time to stay sheltered in place until both emergency sheltering, and no-barrier permanent housing is guaranteed and available.
“Similarly to like what Council Member Vargas brought up regarding the triage center project – an excellent work that was put forward by a dynamic group from this body of legislators – I call for a similar commitment to staffing and housing and mental health programs that are being called for by mutual aid efforts.
“There are clear asks from the people that you are being spoken to by, and for months now, that know exactly what these campers are asking for, and they’ve worked hard to make sure you understand clearly.
“I want all that are listening on the phone tonight that have tuned into this meeting, as well as on the Council to join the hearts and minds on the right side of history and dig deeper into solutions you’re being asked to participate in. Thank you and I yield my time.”
9/12/21 PART THIRTY-FOUR The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The twenty-fourth public comment of the night is Michael at 1:46:20 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=6380):
“Cool. Hello! I must remind you that – I must remind you that the national news is watching – I must repeat, the national news is watching. The narrative is being controlled by a bunch of citizens who are not involved on the street level – citizens who are not homeless themselves.
“And no one has acknowledged that this is human rights of homeless individuals first amendment right. That will be the narrative that comes through on a national level.
“The first amendment thing – and that we all stand for as Americans – is being tramped on. And a pretend narrative by a Mayor who controls all [bleeped] which is continuing on in this town. He is not the new mayor that we voted in. I wish we had the last lady, who – would not have helped at all.
“But anyways, I’m degrading in the sense that we have our own demands and you must listen to citizens who are homeless. We have a lot to provide on the volunteer level. They’re helping tremendously.
“We are seeing citizens who are isolated creating scenes out in public, who come here, who are getting the community that they deserve, the community that we stand for and the values that we represent – which is not what you are doing by pretending this is something you control, that you can sweep away, because we will come back the next day after you imprison us. And we will camp the next day. We will keep camping.
“And there will be hundreds more that are going to be unhoused and coming into our society and this is [bleeped] that you can’t grasp the level that is before you because you control the narrative to our Herald and this is – I just can’t handle, Seth, what you’ve done to the Defund campaign. You have provided 3 trained provided officers who have [bleeped] mental health training which all officers need. They shouldn’t be involved at all.
“You have spent thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars on 20 bed facility that’s controlled by the jail. You are trying to pack the jails, just like you did before, in the future, and say our jails are inadequate for the community.
“And you pack these people – the abuse the police put on these people will be addressed. This is [bleeped]. These people have taken enough. They have PTSD and have to take medications because of what you have done to them. And nothing has changed. You have taken no money away from the police to help provide the basic services and it’s going to bite you in the ass. This is [bleeped]. I’m [bleeped] over it. Arrest me. Come again again.”
Words in this comment were edited out (noted as bleeped) by the City.
9/12/21 PART THIRTY-FIVE The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The twenty-fifth public comment of the night is William at 1:49:35 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=6575):
“My Name is William…I live on unceded Coast Salish land. One of the campers who I have developed a deep relationship with, who wants to get a home and a car, so he can get back to work, was telling me this morning that he was upset by the burning of the American flag on Friday. And then he told me he would rather freeze to death than go back to Base Camp. Everyone around the burn barrel agreed that Base Camp was not an option.
“Events on Friday were challenging, as are most days at Camp 210, yet once again people volunteering and living at Camp 210 are proving to be the adults in this town. They all met Saturday night and talked through what happened and discussed people’s differences and agreed to continue to work together, despite the fact that many of them were upset with the direction the protest took on Friday.
“Why? Because they understand that the violence that the government is perpetuating against people in our community is orders of magnitude worse than any graffiti or any door damage. The volunteers continue to seek both immediate solutions through mutual aid and political solutions through pressuring the government.
“This, while the politicians in this town appear to have lead a protest that wasn’t how the housed people like it to happen, steal the spotlight from the actual problem, which is that there are people who are denied their human rights to shelter.
“In this time that has passed since Friday, I have heard a lot of chatter about the Collective losing its credibility. Thoughts and prayers to you who are concerned for the Collective or wish it would operate differently. The Collective is not worried about their credibility. They are focused on navigating the multiple barriers being placed in their way as they work to keep in tact the humanity of the people experiencing homelessness in our community.
“From my perspective, it is the politicians and the government who should be concerned about their credibility. 100 meetings, thousands of hours of conversation, and yet our sisters and brothers continue to suffer without adequate housing. And the government remains the barrier to preventing housing. HomesNOW has shown that our community would build homes if you would give us land. Camp 210 has shown us that campers would build their own homes if you would give us land. If you can’t give them land by waiving your precious zoning rules, then use your powers of the purse and do it to your standards.
“Stop blaming the young people saving lives on the lawn from your failures. I am here to plead with you to understand what your conscience will bear if you continue down this path. You, as agents of government are engaged in unconscionable acts of violence by preventing the community from sheltering these human beings on our terms. It is not the federal government zoning law that is keeping us from housing people. It is yours, the ones you control.
“You need to either come up with a solution or get out of the way because right now you are complicit. Sethy has said in meetings that the social contract is broken, but continues to wield the power of the state to terrorize the people experiencing homelessness. That is a crime against humanity. I didn’t burn the American flag or open a closed door, but I would much rather bear that and answer my conscience for those actions than be complicit in the dereliction of duty you are all engaged in. As Amanda Gorman said a mere 22 years old herself, last Wednesday, ‘The new dawn blooms as we -‘“
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
9/12/21 PART THIRTY-SIX The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The twenty-sixth public comment of the night is Stacy at 1:52:54 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=6774):
“Hello. You can hear me, right? Cool, cool, cool. I’m Stacy. I’m a volunteer. I’m usually there between 4:00 and 8:00 a.m. So early morning hours during the times that the patriots are – the freedom-minded people are harassing us, as in driving over the curb and speeding down the road just to prove that they can in a state where the police have just run over someone, just for standing in front of their vehicle.
“I feel threatened by that not by the campers or being in camp. I feel personally threatened by Joe, the community helper, 360-201…, maybe you could look into that, and then I could take you seriously when you talk about public safety.
“Because, let me tell you something, I’m from Alabama and I didn’t consider anything in the UK Daily Mail or the Sun Times when planning my trip here, okay? I considered the education level, the safety level, the public health level. I’m from Alabama. We rank number 1 in the country here. I’m from he state that ranks number 50. So [bleeped] this [bleeped] about public safety, come on! Now I’m -”
Comment was ended by Council. Words in this comment were edited out (noted as bleeped) by the City.
Related to a reference in the comment above, this is a link to an article on a Tacoma police officer driving through a crowd, leaving at least one person injured. The incident happened on January 24, 2021 the day before the January 25 Bellingham City Council meeting.
9/13/21 PART THIRTY-SEVEN The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The twenty-seventh public comment of the night is John at 1:54:59 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=6899):
“Hello. Hi, I’d just like to start off today by saying, Mayor Fleetwood, I will never vote for you again. Your comments comparing the community at Camp 210 to white supremacists have endangered those you claim to represent.
“Since your comments, the camp has been the target of increasing white supremacist attacks. The cops you called to talk to your constituents – instead of yourself – have done nothing to stop these exact attacks.
“Your lack of action has already caused damage, and could continue to cause deaths. Your lack of action has shown that you do not care. Your comments to the media have shown you’d rather score a cheap political win than accurately represent the events which transpired.
“You claim to not be the aggressor while simultaneously removing people from their homes. You claim to not be the aggressor while simultaneously threatening community members with threats of violence. You have shown your true colors. You are the sensationalizer. You are the one denying people care. You are the one reinforcing and radicalizing white supremacists.
“Think about what you are doing. Admit you have not done enough. Quit endangering those who are already the most disenfranchised and own up to the mistakes you have made.
“Seth, I want a public apology for your comments and I’d like the City Council to condemn what you’ve said. I yield the rest of my time.”
9/13/21 PART THIRTY-EIGHT The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The twenty-eighth public comment of the night is Sara at 1:57:12 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=7032):
“Hello. It’s Sara…actually, so, and I’m a little tired but I’ll try to get through all that I had in my head.
“First off, I think a lot of your priorities are wacked-out, considering people are spending a lot of time talking about graffiti, a burning flag, a dirty lawn, or like, it not being walkable, when people are literally being forced to live there. Like a hundred people are being forced to live on that lawn in the middle of winter in tents.
“Like, you’re complaining about having to do a meeting from home or, oh, no, it’s too scary to go to work. Like, these people are living there! Like, I don’t know if you understand that, or if you get it. Like, there’s people living outside. So, maybe, like, I don’t know, get that into your head real quick.
“Two, I was walking home, the other day, from camp. I spend a lot of time at camp, or just like, talking to my friends who are houseless, and some woman told me they used three [bleeped] sleeping bags to stay cold the other night – three sleeping bags, to like – and still be cold.
“Oh did you cut me off for swearing? Okay, no, okay I’m good. Okay, I think it’s more disrespectful to cut off constituents than it is to swear, but that’s just a difference in personal opinion.
“But anyways, so three sleeping bags to stay warm out at night. And instead of, like, giving people housing, you’re talking about sweeping people out of the little shelter that they have – the little community that they have assembled. That’s murder on your hands. That’s blood on all you guys’s hands if you don’t step up to stop it.
“That’s really all I gotta say. Get your priorities in order. Start serving your constituents. You guys are doing something that’s actually just evil. Like, I don’t see how you can look at these actions and not see that it is evil to cut services to 100 people who don’t have housing and to literally evict them from the little shelter they have. Like, I mean, just – it’s evil. Yeah. Peace.”
Words in this comment were edited out (noted as bleeped) by the City.
9/13/21 PART THIRTY-NINE
The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The twenty-ninth public comment of the night is Alicia at 1:59:59 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=7199):
“Hi, can you hear me? Thank you. My name is Alicia…and I’ve been a constituent of Bellingham – which resides on unceded Coast Salish territory – for about seven and a half years. I am a Western Washington graduate and a local educator. I’ve been following the events of Camp 210 from day one and supporting campers in various ways that they are directly requesting.
“And, I’d like to start off by looking beyond Camp 210 for a moment and beyond this winter, by stating that there is no reason that the City hasn’t provided services to our houseless community members this winter. This is not an issue new to this season or year and cannot be seen as a surprise. The loss of life due to severe weather during winter in Bellingham has unfortunately been experienced in past years, and potentially this year, maybe, and there’s no excuse for the lack of support currently.
“Every community member deserves housing. It is disgraceful to continue to respond to these calls for action by saying, ‘go to Base Camp,’ as if that is a clear and obvious solution for all. Base Camp is, first of all, not large enough to support all of our houseless community members, or those at Camp 210.
“And you continue to disregard the legitimate and negative experiences of many at – who have been at Base Camp. This is an unacceptable response and I would request that you stop responding with that statement.
“Mayor Fleetwood, earlier in this meeting you stated that asking many campers to move 25 feet is a simple request. I believe that is a very ignorant statement. I would implore you to check your privilege. This is still a sweep. Asking campers to move belongings, whether 25 feet or 100 feet or 1000 feet, it’s still a sweep. And the only way to end camp peacefully, like you say you are committed to doing, is to work with the community to use creative solutions to support every single person, not just those that you deem deserving of supports.
“You can begin by working with Eric Johnston to resume services – sanitary services to the port-a-potties and dumpsters on Lottie Street, because that is how we create safe spaces for members of the public, as Eric Johnston has stated, specifically, is his priority.
“When your actions don’t match your words, you lose credibility. As public commenter Anya…previously stated, we adapt now, or we let people die. I yield my time.”
9/14/21 PART FORTY The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The thirtieth public comment of the night is Melissa at 2:02:41 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=7361):
“Yep, it’s me. So, shout out to everybody listening, the overflow shelter, the lights were turned on, which means they’re getting ready to sweep you guys soon, because they’re preparing the overflow. So, I just wanted to make sure that everybody at 210 has a heads-up on that.
“Yeah, so, this was a nice set-up, Seth. You know, sitting here, finally being able to step back and listen, after having to cut and run and, like, burn my ties because I knew – I knew that the second that they defended themselves against you, that you would turn it around on them, and that you would turn them into aggressors.
“And so, instead of the narrative being, Mayor leaves most vulnerable outside for three months in a pandemic, in the winter, now, all of a sudden, you’re a victim. That’s really cute, dude. And now you get to sweep ‘em, instead of providing shelter, that they’ve been begging, and begging, and begging for, for three months.
“And I just – it’s such a sweet set-up. And now you’ve got all the right-wing mags on your tail and now you can cite their own safety because now, the Trumpers are going to try to kill the campers.
“You know, you didn’t – you didn’t really care about the safety of the camper I had to chase down for two weeks to keep her alive, did you? Now I can’t even get in there to see ‘em because of the rift you’ve created. And now they’re gonna get swept and they’re gonna die because I’m not gonna be able to find them out there. You know what, I can’t talk. I yield my time. Shut me off.”
9/14/21 PART FORTY-ONE The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The thirtieth-first public comment of the night is Toph at 2:04:31 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=7471):
“Hi! Yes, I’m Toph. First of all, I’d like to thank y’all for the time that you’re giving me.
“Second of all, I would like to address the City Council Members. How dare you? How dare you sit high and mighty and call for safety concerns as City employees and look out of the window at people who are sitting on the ground, who are camping out there and have no [bleeped] choice but to camp out there. How dare you think that you are above all of that when they are dying out there, freezing.
“You talk and have these countless meetings as if these people are just theory living in your mind. Seth, you comparing them to white supremacists that are going into the Capitol, when these are just houseless people that are criminalized enough, by the community, by others that see them as lesser. How dare you?
“As a volunteer and a member of the Bellingham community, I hope and pray that you can look within yourself, and to actually see your community as community, as you see them as equals because, honest to god, as Council Members, you are already hopeless to me, so maybe quit your jobs. And maybe talk to people who are outside, houseless members outside. Step out, maybe, at midnight, 3 a.m., see, you know, like how cold it is. Imagine being there.
“Anyways, I’d like to end my statement with a quote from a community member of L.A., who said this to the piggy, Michael Moore, the police chief of L.A., Seth Fleetwood, you are a disgrace, [bleeped] -“
Comment was ended by Council. Words in this comment were edited out (noted as bleeped) by the City.
9/14/21 PART FORTY-TWO The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The thirtieth-second public comment of the night is Marquan at 2:06:27 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=7587):
“Excuse me. Hello, can you hear me? Okay, nice to know. There is one thing, and – a couple of things I have noticed from my whole time being here since November. We’ve all been in the implication of the [unable to distinguish] and misperception of what we needed to do.
“We don’t need a circle on what replications and regulations we need to provide these people housing. But more, the fact we need demonstrate the production of value towards getting the land to get these people housing.
“We’re not trying to get the weather implications of a 28 degrees to provide emergency shelter. We’re already there, due to the windstorms, the rain, the water, the drought, the grass that’s soaking it in.
“We don’t want to be violent entities. We want to be people who positively gain a futuristic outlook from this help, this assistance.
“And I don’t understand why the City and County Council just gets to sit home with their wine in their warm house, while we’re shivering out here trying to get these people warm coffee at night. That’s barely a struggle as it is.
“I am a [unable to distinguish] representative. I have lived on these streets and it’s still rough [bleeped/indistiguishable] sympathetic to see these people out here shivering three years ago, and they were still fighting for it the first time.
“So, I’ve been trying to hear where we need to have this implication of what we need to do to provide outcome of a housing within the next two weeks. Because if that does not happen, we’re going to go into the weather implications of winter. And that’s frost on the ground, frostbite, hypothermia, and a lot of stopping hearts.
“What do we need? And I’m liking to hear about it next week. I’m [unable to distinguish] my time. Good day.”
Words in this comment were edited out (noted as bleeped) by the City.
9/15/21 PART FORTY-THREE The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The thirty-third public comment of the night is Sie at 2:08:06 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=7686):
“Hi, can you hear me? Okay. Alright, so I’m not here to talk to Seth. I’m here to talk to my lovely audience, because I realize that – volunteering at Camp 210 since December, that Seth really has no power at all.
“So, I would like this – everybody talking today, to see that mutual aid works, that we don’t need the City to give us what our – these people down at camp need. We can give it to them. We can give it to each other. They can give it to themselves. They just need you to reach your hand out.
“All this passion I hear in your voices, you need to come down and bring it at camp. We need the people. We need the love. We need the bodies. I mean, the City Council, they don’t have any power. We have the power.
“I just want people to look at themselves and see if they are respecting property over people. Thank you. I yield my time.”
9/15/21 PART FORTY-FOUR The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The thirty-forth public comment of the night is Nicole at 2:09:37 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=7777):
“Can you hear me? Can you hear me? Okay, let me open my page. Alright, you all are an embarrassment, and quite frankly, a waste of my money. Shame on all of you for using my tax-payer dollars to fund your discriminations and your racism.
“Before Friday, when taking donations to camp, I witnessed a community of peaceful and loving humans helping each other, because the City of Bellingham refuses step up.
“On Friday, while holding a sign for equity on the corner of Camp 210, in support of emergency shelter, I witnessed County Court workers in their third floor office windows, using their tax-payer funded salaries to stand there gawking at us, thumbs-downing us, shaking their heads at us.
“I also witnessed media harassing the people who were denying consent to their photos being taken. I saw people in their cars flipping me off, revving their engines at us.
“You know what, Seth? You’ve made your intentions very clear. You and all of your privileged buddies have accomplished your goals of inspiring the white supremacists in Bellingham and Whatcom to come forward and threaten those of us who support basic services.
“It is disgusting that our government employees would prefer to conduct a violent sweep, rather than help the houseless community try to survive winter.
“Last Friday you whined about City employees having to take a shuttle from the senior center to work? It’s obvious your silver-spoon filled mouth has never had to worry about sleeping on the snowy streets in winter.
“And you know what? There’s a chance, there’s a slight chance that fate might serve you what you deserve, but it is certain that the time is coming when we will vote you all out.
“You know what? I demand you to not sweep. I demand that you either help us support our houseless community in a humane way or get the heck out of the way.
“And by the way, get your damn cops to wear masks in our neighborhoods. Thank you. I’m done.”
9/15/21 PART FORTY-FIVE The second Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was January 25, 2021. The thirty-fifth public comment of the night is Paige at 2:11:53 (https://youtu.be/DIKmyVITzmc?t=7913):
“Hi, can you guys hear me? Perfect! I just wanna say I have zero faith in the City or Sethy to fix any of the homeless problem right now, because if you guys really wanted to, you would have done it years ago.
“You guys wouldn’t have prioritized property over people’s lives. You guys wouldn’t be jeopardizing their chances of housing by sweeping them off the streets without finding another place for them to go.
“It’s really disappointing to see so many tax-payer dollars go into a broken government.
“And I think it’s really funny that Seth actually compared what happened on Friday to the events at the Capitol, because, like, ever since you’ve done that, we’ve had MAGA weirdos and chuds harassing the campers and the volunteers. We’ve had them threaten to [unable to distinguish] some volunteers, and campers! And it’s really inappropriate that you would even put us in danger like that.
“Like, I don’t understand what you’re trying to do for the community. You want to use some little story, but then you’re going to put half of your community in danger. And then your cops aren’t going to wear masks, and then they’re going to harass everyone and they’re going to stop everyone from donating at the camp.
“Like, I don’t understand what the hell your game plan is. You guys are wasting everyone’s time. You’re wasting everyone’s money. You guys got extra money for COVID. Like, what the hell is going on, guys?
“Sorry, like, I understand my language, but at the same time you guys are sweeping people, removing them from their literal houses that they have right now. They don’t have anywhere to go other than tents. Like, you guys are going to remove ‘em? And you are complaining about graffiti and language. You guys need to get your priorities straight. And you guys need to stop [bleeped] for dollars.”
Words in this comment were edited out (noted as bleeped) by the City.
9/16/21 PART FORTY-SIX The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The first public comment of the night is Kainui at 00:31:19 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=1879):
“Hi, can you hear me? Okay, I’m gonna go ahead. You can start the timer. My name is Kainui…and I’m a community member in Bellingham. And tonight I am speaking to Mayor Fleetwood and Bellingham City Council Members and community members listening.
“Tonight I speak to you about Camp 210. I will speak to you about the freezing weather, your City’s – and policy around sweeps; [unable to distinguish] going on since sweeps; lacks Of services; and the cost of the last sweep. I will speak to some of these things. But there are so many other issues I could talk to you about around the homeless.
“And tonight I will share with you a review of our conversations, questions about your lack of support to camp 210; commitments I asked you to make; an investigation on the legality of your sweeps; and thoughts on the City meetings that occurred today.
“By now Council, you’ve seen my email I sent you today, ‘Camp 210 was not swept, what’s next?’ located at tinyurl.com/camp210thought, for community members, as well, to see, as wells as, I shared my past thoughts with you and the City’s response at a previous article published, ‘Thoughts on Camp 210 sweep commentary’ at tinyurl.com/camp210thoughts, and for community, as well, to see.
“Some questions I have for the City are, what support has been offered to the camp at the new Camp 210? What is the City’s plan on supporting those folks here when snow and 12 degree weather is expected this week? Instead of trying to threaten campers and build tension, why isn’t the City more clear in working to find solutions?
“On the legality of camp cleanups: no doubt campers have issues with our police, which is why the police department acknowledged no one called to ask for things back. Every time I’ve seen police visit the camp, they’ve not been wearing a mask or wore their mask beneath their nose.
“The camp coordinator and their voice mail, which has just seemed to be changed – that sweeps and cleanups are not happening during COVID. Additionally, on the City of Bellingham website, for which I have shortened as tinyurl.com/sweepsdelay, it says that the camp cleanups have suspended for the time being.
“I am expecting bold solutions and legislation tonight, and productive responses instead of our City’s violent sweep of the past site of Camp 210, and sweeps in general. I encourage you to change 8.04.080, overnight camping, as a violation of overnight camping, prohibiting on park property except for written permission. A violation of the section is a civil infraction.
“On tonight’s City Council meeting: how much did that city – that sweep of Camp 210 cost? So far, Bellingham Herald reports it as – with the addition to State Patrol – $125,000, and that does not include the border patrol and sheriffs that were involved.
“You claimed that there was an armory within those pallets that were at Camp 210. It was just a pallet home. You claimed it was legal, but then you won’t have that at public session. Additionally you have seen the full drone footage of snipers on those build- “
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
Here is a link to the Bellingham Herald article related to the comment above in regard to City costs for the Camp 210 sweep: https://www.bellinghamherald.com/article249105190.html?fbclid=IwAR02ZoTsc7uITs4tdNvxqAN3HkgiG5giFVQhOehW_P7KTt4Xf0StZXFgbyw
Kainui had said he was referencing City costs, along with State Patrol costs which weren’t included in this Herald article.
Here is an email of Sheriff Elfo’s with his account of Sheriff’s costs and State Patrol costs:
“From: Bill Elfo
To: Tyler Schroeder, Satpal Sidhu
CC: Tyler Schroeder
Date: Mar 16, 2021 at 12:55 PM
Subject: Salary Costs Associated with Activity from Camp 210 by Sheriff’s Office on 1-28 and 1-29
Total Cost: $52,522.88.
I believe the State Patrol incurred approximately $54,000 in costs as well.”
9/16/21 PART FORTY-SEVEN The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The second public comment of the night is Nat at 00:34:51 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=2091):
“Hi, I’m here. Thank you. Hi, my name is Nat…I’m a registered nurse working here – working and living here in Bellingham. And to echo some of what Kainui was just speaking on, I would really like to see City Council take some bold action on this.
“I recognize that, as was discussed earlier in the day at various meetings, there’s this gap period where we’re waiting for construction to get done and waiting for other things to get done. And I certainly understand that. I’ve worked in construction. Things take time. And that does nothing to help the people who are, you know, risking exposure tonight.
“Further, and to that point, there needs to be some sort of commitment to finding an ongoing stable place until we reach whatever that end point is, because what’s going to happen, as you can all – have already deduced, is the camp’s just going to keep moving. So, rather than saying, like, okay, we’re going to spend another $200,000 and sweep another camp – potentially cause another spreader event – let’s come up with something that we can, at least, humanely recognize these problems.
“Another point that I want to speak to from earlier in the day, was there was some reference about how people were going to Camp 210, and thus weren’t receiving services that they had been receiving at Base Camp, and I feel like that was a poorly conceived argument. And the reason is, if somebody has the choice to go somewhere else and they choose to, and then at that place they’re choosing to be at, they choose to not talk to somebody, it’s not necessarily a healthy decision, but this is something I deal with all the time as a nurse. I have plenty of diabetic patients who continue to eat poorly. I don’t get to tell them, ‘no you’re not allowed to do that.
“So, the people are choosing not to go to Base Camp. I think is a more important question to ask why that might be, than saying, ‘oh people who choose to go to camp are obviously making a bad decision for themselves.’
“And lastly, you know, in finding an ongoing solution, of course try and work with care-providers throughout the community is great. And also recognizing that many of these people have worked with all of the care providers in this community and found the responses lacking in compassion and recognition of who they are as human beings. Thank you.”
9/16/21 PART FORTY-EIGHT The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The third public comment of the night is Mateo at 00:37:57 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=2277):
“Hi, my name is Mateo…I’m a Bellingham resident. I live on 20th street. I’ve lived here for 14 years now. Taxpayer. I’m also here as a board member of the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center and I’m here to read a letter that the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center has written and co-signed with a variety of other organizations:
“‘As a group of local grassroots community organizations concerned with justice and human rights, we come together to publicly condemn the openly militarized use of force displayed in sweeping the encampment at 210 Lottie Street on Thursday, January 28th.
“‘We call on the Mayor to reverse the course of escalating violence and intimidation and immediately cancel the sweep at the encampment at Geri Fields.
“‘We demand that the City abide by CDC guidelines for minimizing the spread of COVID-19 among people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, which state, “if individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are.”
“‘The guidelines further note that, “clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease-spread.”
“‘Instead of compounding the harm that has already been done to the residents of the encampment by subjecting them to further violations of their basic human rights, we call on the City to offer them options for temporary shelter, either at their current location, or another location to be mutually agreed upon, with the provision of electricity, water, and sanitation facilities adequate to serve residents’ basic needs.
“’In summary, we request that Mayor Seth Fleetwood and the City of Bellingham commit to:
1. Halt all camp cleanups and develop a permanent policy banning sweeps, and
2. Offer all Camp 210 residents adequate public services and options for temporary and permanent housing that accommodates for the needs of disabled people and those who are struggling with mental health issues and drug addiction.’”
“Among the signing organizations are, The Whatcom Peace and Justice Center, which I am here representing, The Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, Community to Community Development, Imagine No Kages, The Birchwood Food Desert Fighters, Bellingham Unity Committee, The Riveters Collective, Whatcom Democratic Socialists of America, The Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights from Western Washington University, Stand Speak Listen, Bellingham Girls Rock Camp, The Bellingham Deaf and Disability Justice Collective, The Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship Social and Environmental Justice Committee, Justin Goble, Indivisible Bellingham, The Bellingham Tenants Union, and 350 Bellingham.
“And I apologize, but when I received this letter to read it, there was two icons, who I don’t recognize the names of the organizations. Thank you very much.”
9/17/21 PART FORTY-NINE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The fourth public comment of the night is Eddy at 00:40:57 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=2457):
“Good evening Council Members and everyone. My name is Eddy…I am a resident of downtown Bellingham. Live just about two blocks from City Hall, so I’ve been, you know, on the ground this whole time as it’s played out.
“You know, I can say as a neighbor to Camp 210 and Base Camp, wherein, you know, much of downtown area since last March has been largely vacant. You know, these are my neighbors and I can tell you that since 210 was started, generally things were improved, in that by having a congregation of people experiencing homelessness in one place – yes, it may be shocking to see it all at once, but it was already there. It was spread around downtown in the surrounding park areas. At 210 it was better managed and better under control.
“And I understand it was not what we would call safe. It was not an ideal situation, not something people should stay in. But that’s the fact. And as a neighbor, I would have preferred it continue and not be – certainly not be removed in the way it was taken.
“And so, while acknowledging all of the significant and commendable efforts done by the City of Bellingham and other agencies, a dozen non-profits in our community serving this population everyday, hundreds of people being taken care of – there are many who continue to be left out in the cold. And without getting into the complex reasons of that, that’s the fact of how it is.
“And people are going to be camping outside, one way or the other. Making it illegal to do so, does not help them. The best solution here is to provide a legal framework that allows what’s already going to happen, that’s out of your control, to continue in a safer way, where services can be provided. People can be helped into better circumstances.
“And those that choose to – and want to stay there should be allowed to. Those that want to serve them and volunteer and work with them should be allowed to, in my opinion.
“But it’s not just that, it’s – there’s really no other option for you here, because even the City has acknowledged it is illegal to do encampment cleanup operations during the pandemic. That’s been acknowledged. The law that you were enforcing to clear the lawn was a civil infraction. That was – the police use of force was for a civil infraction, not actually a crime.
“And now we’re in a situation where we’re headed to lower than 28 degrees tonight, lower than 20 degrees tomorrow or the day after. And there are people left out in the cold now, without their winter camping gear and sleeping bags that were taken and held by the City. Not a single item taken from the lawn at City Hall has been returned to people who have been requesting and demanding for the last 10 days, to have their personal belongings and survival gear returned to them.
“This has put a burden on the community, on volunteers and everyone. It’s a risk and hazard to us all, not just to the most impacted, but to everyone. And right now there is an ordinance on the table that has been prepared, and is being considered by you. And I hope that you will thoroughly consider this option for an interim ordinance to enact, temporarily, to get us through the rest of this week and this winter into a safer situation, so we can continue to work on this issue more productively -”
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
9/17/21 PART FIFTY The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The fifth public comment of the night is Alicia at 00:44:24 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=2664):
“Hi, give me one second here, sorry. Alright, so I just – I – as a [background noise] – oh, what? Hey, can you hear me? Okay great.
“So I would just like to say I have some rebuttals to some of the points that were made. And I’d just like to start out with saying the sweeps a.k.a. cleanups are supposed to be suspended for the duration of COVID-19. [Council President Stone apologizes and asks if Alicia will wait one moment. Alicia continues.] It says that. And it says – if COVID was actually a concern, the officers could have all done a much better job wearing their masks properly, for one.
“Also, there were snipers on the roof and in the second story of City Hall windows and multiple people have pictures of this. Just because they weren’t actively taking aim, doesn’t mean that they weren’t there and ready to do so.
“Also, there was no armory made of pallets. There was a shed, where we stored tools used for building, but there was no actual armory.
“Also, in regards to the line being held, it was held against police to allow campers time to disperse and to allow other volunteers to be able to help them collect and transport their belongings. It was a defensive measure, and actually people were injured by the police. Protesters were also campers. At least two campers were arrested for protesting. There’s no division between the two. We are a community supporting each other.
“In regards to sanitary conditions, those would be possible with basic power, access to port-a-potties, and trash service. At the new location, volunteers have actually paid for these out of their own pockets and community donations after the City refused to do so. And the private companies hired were told that they were not allowed to provide services at Geri Field.
“We actually have communicated with social workers. I personally assisted the Opportunity Council with their point-in-time count at Geri Field. There’s multiple volunteers that have been contacting social workers and trying to make sure people are keeping their appointments, getting medications, and staying on track with rehab programs.
“Volunteers have been working with City Council Members to pass this legislation, like Eddy just mentioned. Yeah, the legislation currently under discussion was actually written by camp volunteers.
“Really, you just – you can’t keep moving people around the City and telling them to go to Base Camp. It should – it isn’t and should not be the only option. Like, people are going to freeze this week if we don’t come up with some other solution, except for just kicking people violently out of their homes. Like, this is – that’s the real, like, public health concern. You know, you can’t just shut off services and keep moving people around. It’s disgusting.
“Anyway, that’s it. That’s my whole comment. I have 30 seconds left, but that’s all.”
9/17/21 PART FIFTY-ONE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The sixth public comment of the night is Makenzie at 00:47:32 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=2852):
“Okay, thank you, everyone. Hello Council Members. My name is Mackenzie Graham and I’m here as a concerned citizen and community member.
“Housing is health and a basic human right and a safe stable shelter is more important than ever during the coldest months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I join the community’s call to action demanding the Mayor and the City of Bellingham use their powers to provide emergency shelter, permanent housing for all, and starting with an absolute end to encampment sweeps.
“The City’s response to Camp 210 has left me feeling disgust – or sorry, disturbed and incredibly disappointed in our leadership. The Mayor told The Bellingham Herald just days before, that the City seeks a peaceful end to the encampment. And then the City did the exact opposite by sending in militarized police, SWAT teams, and snipers to force the individuals, children, and families away from their shelters, against CDC guidelines in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic.
“Sending an armed police force is the opposite of a peaceful ending. We need housing, compassion, and creative collaboration, to reach solutions. And yet this meeting was opened with comments that further other, and criminalize those in crisis at Camp 210.
“I stand with the community and with our houseless neighbors who are asking to be treated with basic human dignity, at the bare minimum.
“An eviction moratorium has protected those with housing, and the City needs to extend that protection to those without shelter until adequate shelter is available. We need more shelter, a diversity of housing options for all income levels in all neighborhoods, and treatment, instead of violence for those who need it.
“I want to be part of a community that values every member regardless of housing status, economic status, age, race, gender expression, and ability.
But the City’s actions have proved that that is sadly not who we are today in Bellingham.
“No one gets elected to office with 100% of the vote. But you all represent 100% of the people regardless of whether they have shelter or not. And right now you are failing all of us because we have all been dehumanized by allowing the housing crisis to reach such harmful levels.
“And we have been even more dehumanized by the City’s violence against our neighbors experiencing houseless – experiencing houseless-ness.
“COVID has shown us that we all may be just one step away from losing everything. Please show compassion. Stop the sweeps. And be transparent and open with all of us, your constituents. Thank you.”
9/18/21 PART FIFTY-TWO The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The seventh public comment of the night is Bridget at 00:50:24 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=3024):
“Can you hear me? Thank you. My name is Bridget…and I’m here to speak tonight to the Council about what I witnessed on January 28th at the camp sweep at Camp 210.
“I went as a concerned citizen of Bellingham because I wanted to see, first hand, as a tax-payer, as a resident of this City, what my city was doing.
“What I saw, at about 9:30 a.m. was complete chaos and utter sorrow. There were riot police, militarized police, and a group of volunteers trying to evacuate campers. We were evacuating people under threat of force, with no help from the City of Bellingham in sight.
“And I cannot stress this enough: there were no helpers other than the volunteers. There was a group of protesters trying to hold back riot police so that myself and other volunteers could help people evacuate.
“When 100+ people have to suddenly evacuate from an area that they have lived in for several months, there’s an incredible amount of belongings to move.
“What struck me most, were the shoes: single shoes without their partner, scattered amongst tarps, books, toasters, blankets. As I tried to move people’s belongings, there was great confusion. Where were we moving these things to? Who is moving it? Again, volunteers were completely on their own. Campers were on their own.
“My heart was racing the whole time and I did feel afraid – not afraid of the campers, not afraid of the young people dressed in black bravely keeping the police at bay while I tried to match up people’s things. I was afraid of the militarized police, of the snipers on the rooftop, of the armored vehicles.
“What a shameful day in Bellingham’s history. What a shameful event to explain to my children that night at dinner – what our City had done to human beings, what our City had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to do instead of buying people homes, instead of giving people shelter.
“And so, City Council Members, I ask you, I plead with you: no more sweeps, emergency winter shelter now. Thank you.”
9/18/21 PART FIFTY-THREE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The eighth public comment of the night is Tara at 00:53:13 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=3193):
“Hi, Can you hear me? Great, thank you. Good evening, my name is Tara. I’m a renter, a single parent of three young people, and a full-time worker in Bellingham. I live in the Lettered Streets neighborhood.
“I’m disappointed and angry about the City’s militarized response and the forceable removal of Camp 210 on the 28th. In my experience, no one camps to live at City Hall unless they have no other option for housing.
“To remove people in the middle of winter and take what’s left of their belongings under threat of militarized police and many other law enforcement agencies was unnecessary.
“It caused harm to the people in our communities who are the most vulnerable to hunger, to sickness, to this pandemic, and then to humiliation and violence.
“We have to do better.
“I am asking you, our elected leaders, to allow temporary housing encampments and not displace and dislodge unhoused people any further. We must, as a city, provide adequate sanitation and allow people to meet their essential needs while living at temporary encampments.
“We must have a variety of housing possibilities for the different needs that our communities have. There isn’t going to be one solution for everybody.
“The City must work with the people who are unhoused and not make decisions about their well-being without their input. And if it’s hard, then it is hard, but we have to do it anyway.
“This economy has never worked for the majority of the world’s people. The existence of poverty and homeless-ness as a problem – as problems is evidence of this.
“There’s so much evidence: this raging pandemic, the fact that poor people and Black and Indigenous and people of color are dying disproportionately from this pandemic is evidence of this cruel economy.
“At the very least, we have to allow temporary housing encampments. People have the right – everyone has the right to live, work, play, and rest safely, including people without housing.
“The last thing I want to ask you to do as our council and our mayor is to not tolerate racism and violence in our community.
“I saw the video excerpts from the BPD – that the BPD posted, and even their edited versions showed them being physically confrontational and violent towards young people who were protesting. They were holding a line. They weren’t being shitty people.
“They were – the police, what I saw, was that police were being disrespectful to the residents of Camp 210. They were being disrespectful to the young people. And although the video they posted overwhelmingly showed white protesters, they posted pictures of Black people today on Facebook and asked the public to take action and report them to law enforcement.
“The comments on it are hateful and violent. And when asked, the BPD refused to take it down, saying they were monitoring the comments themselves. This is despite the fact that the people on the photos are unsafe to walk around our city, knowing the vitriol that will be directed at them.”
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
9/18/21 PART FIFTY-FOUR The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The ninth public comment of the night is Brel at 00:56:28 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=3388):
“Good evening Council. My name is Brel…and I’d like to say that the City continues to excuse its violent and immoral sweep of Camp 210 by asserting that there is capacity at Base Camp.
“Many of you have asked the question, how many people at Camp 210 were eligible or willing to stay at Base Camp? We now have our answer. On the day of the sweep, only nine more people stayed there from the night before, totaling 158 people, leaving 71 beds open.
“We all know that the majority of people at Camp 210 experience substance abuse disorders and mental illness, in addition to criminal records that have been kicked out of Base Camp.
“There are no viable shelter options. Camp 210 relocated to an unused parking lot. It received another sweep notice. Every camper I have talked to says the same thing, ‘where do they want me to go?’
“I turn that question to you. Where do you expect them to go? If folks can’t enter Base Camp, then there is no viable answer to this question. Current code criminalizes homelessness. All of you have the legislative power to change this until there are viable options. It is immoral to criminalize someone’s very existence just because they don’t have a home.
“I urge all of you to be brave and do what is right. Tonight you have a piece of legislation before you that could temporarily legalize un-permitted tent and building encampments on public lands. This will give other operators time to begin operations of other encampments, including a third site for HomeNOW, Road2Home’s encampment for elderly and disabled folks, and possibly a very low-barrier encampment, which all could be operating in the spring.
“Give the community time to bring these options online before you continue to displace people who have nowhere else to go. It will allow people to receive basic services on public property. Pass this important piece of legislation tonight.
“Also, you need to do everything in your power to get indoor shelter tomorrow. People will likely die from hypothermia if you don’t take action. Use emergency funds and pressure the County to get motel vouchers out to all – out to all who need it. If you have to, open up any heated indoor space the City owns in order to save lives. The proposed legislation will also permit this action.
“Don’t let any deaths be on your hands. Do what is morally right. Pass the emergency legislation to stop the sweeps and decriminalize homelessness. And I’ll yield the rest of my time. Thank you.”
9/19/21 PART FIFTY-FIVE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The tenth public comment of the night is Geneva at 00:59:08 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=3550):
“Hello. My name is Geneva…I’m a resident of Bellingham. And I sat in on some of the meetings of the Council this afternoon, the Health and Safety and Justice Committee, and the Committee of the Whole. And I learned a great deal about the resources and services that are currently available, and notably, the gap between the emergency situation that currently exists for those who are unsheltered and what may be possible in a few months time.
“Severe weather is upon us now. I want to echo the urgency expressed by Council Members this afternoon to find ways to address the immediate acute needs of the people who are displaced from the encampment at 210 Lottie Street, as well as others who are living outside, dispersed throughout Bellingham and Whatcom County.
“For a number of reasons, some people cannot or have chosen not to make use of spaces that are available at Base Camp or the overflow shelter. And whatever your opinion of Base Camp, it simply cannot serve everyone. Couples must sleep separately, families with children cannot stay there. People who are not able to stay clean and sober are not allowed to stay. There’s no privacy and options for storing belongings are extremely limited.
“Tiny homes are the only other form of shelter available, but all the tiny homes we have are currently full. And no additional ones will be ready for weeks or possibly months.
“So I want to press the Council and the Mayor to keep moving forward from the conversation you started this afternoon. Get creative about broadening and bending and stretching the rules to find ways to keep people safe, dry and warm, and fed and get connected to services during the next few months, that will allow them some expectation of stability, rather than being constantly on edge, not knowing when they will have to pick up and move at a moment’s notice.
“Really focus on that gap and how it can be filled right now, not in a few month’s time. You can start by committing to ending camp cleanups and sweeps immediately.
“You have some legislation before you, I understand, that will cover much of these needs, so people will be assured that they won’t have to keep running.
“And now’s the time to redouble your efforts to build and rebuild partnerships with community organizations, religious institutions, government agencies and service providers, so that we can work together to address the immediate need, and find longer term solutions. Thank you.”
9/19/21 PART FIFTY-SIX The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The eleventh public comment of the night is at 01:01:58 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=3718):
“Can you hear me? Hello? I’m Gloria…And I live in downtown Bellingham. I rent from the Opportunity Council. And excuse me for how I speak. I have a neurological problem from court-ordered meds.
“And I’ll talk about how I became homeless. And I’m gonna talk something serious. Five years ago, I was living with my mother, and I have an issue with the Blaine police – they made me homeless.
“At first I slept in Birch Bay, in my car. And I was embarrassed to speak at first, since I come from an influential family, I am told. But now I’m not embarrassed any more – I want to see change.
“The sheriff kept asking me to move, so I came into Bellingham and lived in my car. I slept on the streets of Bellingham. I was scared. And I want to talk about safety, most importantly.
“In Blaine, I caused an investigation into them. I know how to call the Justice Department and all that. And I’ve done that about Bellingham and what happened here on January 28th.
“But, five years ago, I was sleeping in a car, scared. I had a knife. I wouldn’t even go outside to go to the bathroom.
“So, I was housed by the Opportunity Council and I was so grateful. And I’ll tell you, these case managers worked hard. But there was no change.
“I live in a complex where I can’t call the police more or tell the Opportunity Council. You want to talk about drugs and homelessness and guns? It’s been happening here.
“So I want to talk about when you house people, there’s gotta be rules and they gotta stick to ‘em. You don’t reward for unacceptable behavior.
“I live in a place that is so infected with meth, that it will have to be torn down. [unable to distinguish] I don’t have a life ring – For almost four years to try to get a life boat to come in and save us.
“But this camp downtown – I walk constantly – I walk through there. I got an idea to mask myself up where nobody’d know me, and go into the camp. A week or two before they executed without a solution – I have never seen – I am so embarrassed – with no plan, and the snipers I see. I saw videos, on our own American citizens.
“Now, there’s all levels of homelessness. There’s all different situations that bring people to homelessness. But I want to see change, and I want to see people do their job. I can’t cry out more for change.”
Comment was ended by Council.
9/19/21 PART FIFTY-SEVEN The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The twelfth public comment of the night is Daniel at 1:05:44 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=3944):
“Thank you. One moment. My name is Daniel…and tonight I’d like to address three matters.
“Firstly, I strongly oppose the January 28th clear-out of the City Hall encampment. Members of this Council have acknowledged that Base Camp is not a solution for everyone experiencing homelessness. Still the City’s message around the sweep has consistently been telling campers to go to Base Camp and citing its unfilled capacity.
“I know the early sweep was not a ruse and that the intent was to avoid a clash with protesters. But whatever the intent that early sweep hurt trust between the public and the City.
“I know the City has made progress with Swift Haven. I hear City leadership’s frustration at a rejected proposal for a similar project, but the fact is, at the time of the clear out, many campers still had nowhere to go.
“Finding solutions for emergency shelter and permanent housing is difficult, but we must finish that work, not simply clear campers out.
“Next, I want to briefly touch on, at the last Council meeting, which I watched till the end, many Council Members expressed outrage at the profanity used during last week’s public comment. And I appreciated the discussion in committee meetings this afternoon focusing their concerns on personal attacks and reaffirming the value of public comment.
“Council Member Stone articulated the expectations and the rationale behind them well at the intro to tonight’s public comment session. I do want to caution the Council Members, however, not to dismiss the content of what the public is sharing.
“However you feel about explicit language, I remind you that the unmet physical needs of our neighbors facing winter with no homes should upset us much more, and therefore take more of our attention and energy.
“Finally, I want to stress the needs of campers right now at Frank Geri Fields.
Number 1, they need a guarantee that they will not be removed from their current location.
“Ann Deacon shared this afternoon that some campers are individuals that it is challenging for the government to help, but other entities can help them.
“The current encampment can act as such an entity, so let them help. Prevent the escalation we saw up at the City Hall encampment. I ask you to either issue a permit for the present encampment or designate a new location where they can be.
“Number 2, Frank Geri Fields needs access to sanitation services. I visited the encampment this weekend and I heard from a volunteer there that water has been cut off from to the restroom facilities at the parking lot. These people need a place to use the restroom. They need a place to wash up. These are basic needs which are even more important during COVID.
“Please, please restore water to the restrooms to provide for campers’ needs.
“And finally, people experiencing homeless-ness in Bellingham need housing. I know you have started the work and I know it is difficult, but we must finish the work and not clear encampments with surprise and force, by providing diverse, legitimate housing solutions for everyone. Thank you, and I yield the rest of my time.”
9/20/21 PART FIFTY-EIGHT The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The thirteenth public comment of the night is Riannon at 1:09:02 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=4142):
“Hi. Good evening, my name is Riannon…I continue to be heartbroken by the behaviors and actions of the City of Bellingham.
“On the City’s website it states, ‘we remain certain that our response was necessary to protect the safety of everyone involved.’ Though I do not doubt that safety was an important factor in the decision-making, I do wonder about whose safety was prioritized.
“I wonder how those making these decisions believe people who were living at Camp 210 are now safer. The sweeps that have been mentioned are in violation of both CDC guidance and Governor Inslee’s proclamation that is effective through March of this year.
“For more than 12 years I was a partner with the City in a variety of capacities and sadly what has been demonstrated over and over again is that the goal of the elected City officials and those in positions of power at the City is not to solve homelessness, but to remove it from the public sight. Sweeping is effective in only reaching that goal.
“I decided to speak here tonight to ask that we, the broader public, and elected officials approach these camps and individuals with genuine compassion, humility, and truth to understand that these camps, and homelessness itself, is the result of systemic issues and that we need systemic solutions.
“Sweeping only causes more harm, trauma, and distrust. Sweeps do not make the vulnerable safer. It only further dehumanizes and isolates.
“I wonder what we could do if we remained diligent to be creative and collaborative. I wonder what we would and could do if sweeps were not an option for us to utilize. I wonder if we were prioritizing guidelines, such as Hannah reviewed with us all at the beginning of this, would we have had snipers on roofs? Would that be part of the guidelines? Would we have a militarized show of power? These guidelines and respect that is being requested fairly by the Council, but looks very much like a one-way street at this point.
“Let’s spend our limited resources and energy and time acting in ways that are grounded in the stated legacies and strategic commitments of the City of Bellingham. Some of those include, creating a sense of place; having a safe and prepared community; having quality responsive city services; and demonstrating our commitment to equity and social justice.
“These are the stated values of the City of Bellingham. One way to live into these stated values is to stop all sweeps and care for those who are in poverty as much as we care for those who are not. I respectfully ask that we stop harming each other as elected officials, we are looking to you to lead in those efforts. Thank you.”
9/20/21 PART FIFTY-NINE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The fourteenth public comment of the night is Katherine at 1:12:16 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=4336):
“Hello, can you hear me? This is Katherine…I’ve been a resident of Bellingham for several years, previous board member of HomesNOW, long-time advocate for the homeless, volunteer of the Food Bank, very rooted into the scene of poverty because I’ve been tossed aside by society because of a unique situation, and ended up homeless in Seattle, King County, in a tent with my children because of medical stuff.
“I want to first thank everyone who’s worked on this, especially the local community members, locals who have stepped up and joined this effort to take as stand against the narratives.
“This stand is growing momentum. More people are joining. And be real careful Council Members, you may find value in spreading accurate narratives, because everyone across the globe is watching. We have an opportunity to show the rest of the world what compassion really is.
“Today I learned about a family who was kicked out of a motel, basically because they were told they were too infested. And then the children were playing too loudly – not because of anything criminal, not because of anything civil – but they were – lost access and told to freeze outside.
“And Opportunity Council – they’re working directly with Opportunity Council – I see a message on Facebook saying they need drinking water because they couldn’t find drinking water. So now, the community outreach team has banded together to get them what they need out of our own pockets, out of our own money. Some of us, which we only have food stamps ourselves, because the paid people are not doing their jobs.
“And they’re spreading false information. I’ve emailed Opportunity Council through this whole thing. I’ve emailed, and brought homeless individuals to Base Camp. And I need accurate true information given to the community, because the community is watching and that you have to build trust with us.
“This family is now freezing outside. They don’t have any real resources. I contacted the Opportunity Council’s outreach team – the HOT team – I still have not got a call back.
“You’re not being – giving accurate information as Council Members from these organizations. I don’t know why. I don’t know – but what we’re telling you is true. It’s very frustrating. It’s happened to me as a human being. It’s happening to so many other people and this is gaining momentum. We know what we’re talking about.
“We’re not making this up and this is true. Our community lacks resources. I’ve also further went to contact other citizens in other states to find out what their encampments were going on. And it’s happening all over the place. I gander to say all over the world. Thank you.”
9//20/21 PART SIXTY The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The fifteenth public comment of the night is Morgan at 1:15:28 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=4528):
“Hello, can you all hear me? Alright, sweet. So, my name is Morgan…I go by J.J…. I work full time down in Seattle doing outreach and case management work in the University District with homeless young adults – houseless young adults, excuse me.
“Bellingham is my home town. I grew up there. I was born there. And I’ve been up on weekends, helping out at Camp 210, which is the subject of my call here tonight.
“The options that have been promoted by the City, as other speakers have said thus far, that being Base Camp and the Lighthouse Mission, I believe, among others, are complete non-starters, and this is obvious to anyone who actually does this kind of work. I’ve been doing this kind of work for a year.
“Not only do these sites lack the physical space to solve the problem, but the high-barrier model they employ reproduces the same oppressive atmosphere you’ll find in any “standard” non-profit shelter.
“It’s the same situation down here in Seattle. I have multiple people who have told me straight-up, they will not stay in shelters because it makes them feel unsafe and it makes them feel oppressed, especially if there are any LGBTQ persons.
“The City offers these non-starter options, feigns surprise when no one bites, because I think – I respect the City Council too much to say that they don’t know – I believe that they know – then employs incredible shows of force with tax-payer dollars rather than solve the problem.
“These sweeps are not only a waste of money, they are a public health risk, as others have said. It makes no sense to respect the expertise of health officials only when it’s politically convenient.
“If we’re making a big deal – as we should – about what Erika had to say, we should also be listening to the CDC, which I believe a few other speakers have said the direct quote. I’ll say the direct quote again: ‘Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers.
“I cannot tell you how frustrating it is, as a case manager, to try and find my client after a sweep has happened. It is near impossible, because on their mind is not their connection to their case worker, not their connection to their medication, it’s getting out of that area, because there’s 50 plus cops, fully loaded, snipers on the roof – they need to leave.
“So sweeps are not a solution. Base Camp is not a solution. And Lighthouse Mission is not a solution. The only real solution that we have is housing for all. And this is not an outlandish thing. We have the resources to do it. We have the skill set to do it. The only thing we’re lacking is leadership with the political will to get it done. And I think that’s something that can change.
“I think the political will can be gained. It comes from comments like this: ‘So, housing is a human right and it’s long past time we start treating it that way. It’s long past time our leadership starts treating it that way.’ Thank you.”
9/21/21 PART SIXTY-ONE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The sixteenth public comment of the night is Heather at 1:18:44 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=4724):
“Hello, City Council-persons, neighbors, and friends. Is my sound okay? Heather…speaking. I wish to appreciate our community’s efforts to work together to maintain our community health for all our people.
“I’m also sad for our community, especially this winter, experiencing how many more people are left outside without shelter, without a safe family.
“I was at camp late, the night before the January 28th operation on Lottie Street, assisting those who were attempting to pack and depart before the sweep.
“May we respect each human being. May our divisions be healed. May each person have the freedom and the safety to share their voice and to experience safety when they need to lay down to rest.
“I’ve met and listened to many of my neighbors who are unsheltered and living outside, who are humble, strong people, who share what they have and receive only what they need.
“I’ve not been able to find some of my neighbors who were forced out on January 28th from their simple tent or pallet-home shelters, while being surrounded by hundreds of community members, including armed law enforcement and, as videos have shown, humans with assault weapons on the rooftops, while loud helicopters were overhead, filming.
“I understand a timely decision was made by a team of staff. I don’t understand why a contact – contract to create another emergency tiny home shelter has been delayed for weeks. I understand concerns of safety continue, while the reality of healing from trauma, post-January 28th operation, continues daily.
“Each day there are citizens who lay down at night, not knowing if they will wake up surrounded by guns, strangers, news helicopters filming them.
“The trauma experienced, each time a neighbor is forced to leave where they have been resting and sleeping is immense.
“I’m thankful for the current privilege to experience safety when I lay down to rest. I’m thankful to have shelter from the strong elemental effects of rain, snow, winter.
“The weather is predicted to be colder these coming days. I apologize for repeating my requests from past months, past years: please take action to create, during this severe weather, a couple nighttime urban warming centers that provide shelter from the rain, wind, snow, and has access to fresh air, drinking water, bathroom access, a warming beverage, that is open to all our people, all genders, all cultures, all economic capabilities, all levels of health.
“May our collective humanity expand to include each of us in securing a safe place – “
Time was called and comment was ended by Council.
9/21/21 PART SIXTY-TWO The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The seventeenth public comment of the night is Scott at 1:22:04 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=4924):
“Hi, City Council. Scott…here. Thanks for the opportunity to share my experience. My family lives in the Puget neighborhood near Salmon Woods. There have always been signs of homeless camps here, but last summer the camps grew exponentially.
“We saw an increase in neighborhood crime. The camps spilled onto the main trails. My family members and I were harassed.
“The camps were swept and BPD informed us that over 60 needles were found. One of the campers had been party to a drug overdose fatality.
“The residents moved just one block west to the corner of Puget/Fraser, where they had been sent, and new campers moved into Salmon Woods.
“Despite all this, we were excited when HomesNOW announced Swift Haven. Doug and the HomesNOW organization has been great about communicating with the neighborhood and addressing our concerns. Their camp is clean, quiet and maintains itself. We need more solutions like this.”
This is an excerpt of Scott’s comment. You can listen to his entire comment at this link: https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=4924
9/21/21 PART SIXTY-THREE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The eighteenth public comment of the night is Liz at 1:24:20 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=5060):
“Hello. Am I on? Thank you. Council President Stone, Council Members, Mayor Fleetwood: Liz…here, homeowner for 15 years in the Sunnyland neighborhood. I’m also a volunteer member of your Community Development Advisory Board, speaking tonight in my capacity tonight as a private citizen, and not on behalf of CDAB.
“So, you guys, you’re missing a huge opportunity here. I’m here to ask y’all in the legislative and executive branches of City government – like, be bold, man! Like, now is the time to be putting forward a vision for our future for affordable housing, and you are missing out.
“Give us a vision for the future. Help us rally behind it and let’s get more affordable housing built. Pass the laws necessary to provide basic human rights now for our homeless neighbors during the pandemic, but also provide leadership. Give us a path forward.
“I am done being an apologist for our City’s policies. I almost resigned from CDAB after the first militarized sweep of Camp 210, and as a volunteer, this breaks my heart, because I helped get the Bellingham Home Fund passed. That wouldn’t have happened without people who are now on our City Council and who are now our mayor.
“And so it’s just – it’s mind boggling to me that we are in this situation where I’m having to ask you for this. We’ve built over 800 affordable homes – built or preserved – with the Bellingham Home Fund. I know your commitment to housing and ending homelessness.
“It infuriates me to see you, my friends, targeted personally, and at the same time, we can do so much more. I know how much we are doing. I know how much out non-profits are doing.
“But I’m done being and apologist, as soon as you put militarized police on the roof of our public facilities, and the fact that these sweeps happened with no assistance for the people to relocate and have another dignified option.
“So, this is your moment for boldness, come on! It’s time for policy solutions that actually put housing first. We can’t let NIMBYs bully us into keeping inclusionary zoning out of our single family neighborhoods. We need 15% of larger, multi-family housing facilities to be permanently affordable. We need to reduce barriers to development. We need to stop the sweeps. We need to create policy and infill. We can do this. Give us the vision.”
Time was called.
9/22/21 PART SIXTY-FOUR The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The nineteenth public comment of the night is Kat at 1:27:34 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=5254):
“Hello? Great. I just wanted to, like, kind of reiterate what everyone’s been saying. I agree with it. I’m just appalled that there were, you know, snipers and things in my back yard. I’ve grown up here.
“And I – I’m sorry. It is, like everyone said, below freezing. We need immediate action, but we also need compassionate action. And we need to, like, listen to, like, the voices of saying there are solutions, that there are solutions that we are ready to put in place – that we are ready to care for people and like, not putting that burden on people who are already struggling, and so ready to like, push that action forward and to give it to people and grow it with people who could, like, take it and do so much more.
“It’s really frustrating that the amount of money spent to sweep peaceful citizens of our community away, and out, and as far away as they can get, like, is more than most of us make in a year, with perhaps, like, the exception of some of the people on the Council and our mayor.
“But, like, you’re civil servants. Why are you not serving the houseless? They are part of our community, and as others have said, they’re, like, down and out on their luck. They’re in a bad place, and like, why would we torment them further? Why would we make their lives more difficult when we don’t need to?
“It’s very frustrating to have to like, you know, go in and give what you can – give someone a coffee, but like, you can’t give more, and I think that there is a lot of people who are putting the actions for those homes in place, and for like, getting the City, like, an affordable and safe and happy community.
“So there you go. Thank you. I yield the rest of my time.”
9/22/21 PART SIXTY-FIVE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The twentieth public comment of the night is Imogen at 1:29:53 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=5393):
“Hello, can you hear me? Alright, well, I think that a lot of what people have been saying is quite clear – what we’re asking, what we’re wanting. But I would just like to push a little further into your guys’ empathy, because the language that some of you guys have used to talk about Camp 210 residents, to talk about some of the protesters, is a little condescending, and a little lacking in empathy, and care, and compassion.
“Saying that some of the protesters are dangerous and that – sorry – that it’s dangerous and that it is offensive, I think that a lot of actions around Camp 210 could be described as dangerous and offensive.
“First of all it’s offensive that there is money for a militarized sweep of Camp 210, but there isn’t enough money, or resources, or time to be put into finding adequate shelter in support for this community.
“I think it is offensive that people who have jobs, and school, and other aspects in their life are giving all that they can, are spending all their time, and efforts, and getting supplies, and volunteering, and raising money, and helping this community, when that is supposed to be your guys’s job.
“If we can’t trust our officials to keep us safe, to help keep us housed, to have access to water – think about not having those things. And instead of sweeping and taking stuff that people put so much effort into getting for them, that weren’t yours to take, it’s disgusting, and it’s painful to see. And I just think we can do a lot better.
“I yield the rest of my time.”
9/22/21 PART SIXTY-SIX The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The twenty-first public comment of the night is Markis at 1:32:39 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=5559):
“Hello! Hello! Hi. Can you hear me? Hi, I just wanted to let you all know that I just, yesterday, had an email back and forth with Patrick Diller of Pallet Shelters and 100 tiny homes could be delivered onto your lot within three days. I just want you to know that.
“I want to talk to you about Camp 2, as they’re calling it. I want to talk to you about a lot of things about it, actually. But I’ve been hearing the stuff that’s been going on in the meetings today. There’s been a re-write of history. You’ll have to excuse me, I had to rush back to my phone.
“But let’s be careful about this. I know darn well from personal contact – with back and forth with Mission staff, with HOT team – they did not come in. We’re being told they came in repeatedly and then they were chased out. And that there’s some documentation. Bring it.
“But other than that – other than that, what I want to talk to you all tonight about is, please, let’s get these shelters going. I mean, please. They’re gonna freeze out there. It is your responsibility. Don’t let them die. Don’t let them die.
“Is there a protest down there at Camp 2? Has anyone approached them to ask? It’s a camp. Don’t let them die. Don’t let them die.
“These are my clients. I’ve known these people for years. Don’t let them die. These are my advocates and my co-workers who’ve been out saving these same people in your streets, for years. Don’t. Let. Them. Fail. Don’t let them die. Please. Does this sound, like, hackneyed or something? Don’t. Let. Them. Die.
“There’s no warming center available, like promised over three weeks ago by Satpal. There’s – we have no identified cold weather shelter and the cold weather is upon us. Would you like to step out into that right now and stand there without a jacket for a while? Don’t let ‘em die. Please, don’t let ‘em die.
“Don’t change this narrative either. If you want- do you want people to come and meet these people, you just tell ‘em to come on in and meet their people. If you’ve got their medications, you bring their medications, please. Ain’t nobody stopping you. That’s a lie. Don’t listen to that stuff.
“Don’t listen to that stuff. Listen to your heart. Listen to your advocates. Listen to the people who you know you’ve been listening to for years, saying the exact same message, for years. Please don’t let them die. Let’s catch them all this spring in a common sense way. Let’s buy these shelters and make this go together, shall we? All together now, okay? Let’s do it.
“I don’t want to hear anybody denying there were snipers or what, what, what – the whole fact, that was a shame. And it’s an embarrassment . And it’s a black eye on Bellingham. It’s history now. Let’s step forward. Don’t let them die. Please, don’t let them die. I yield.”
9/23/21 PART SIXTY-SEVEN The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The twenty-second public comment of the night is Emily at 1:35:50 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=5750):
“Can everyone hear me? Great. I’m calling to demand that we – that you all pass the aforementioned legislation that will stop sweeps, while we find real adequate housing solutions, and that we are providing emergency shelter immediately with the impending freezing weather for our unhoused residents.
“It has been brought up, but it bears repeating that sweeps are advised against by the CDC, and are unlawful by our state ordinances.
“You are displacing people with nowhere to go. The sweep on January 28th was violent and shameful. We have somehow, decided to change the narrative. But it was our community standing up for our community.
“Mayor Fleetwood spoke about a body cam video where an officer shows restraint, but I’d like to bring up the videos that have circulated of BPD at the sweep not wearing masks over their nose, or the video where an unmasked cop is handed a mask and puts it on his – in his pocket, instead of putting it on.
“You are letting your citizens down, and you are trying to change the narrative to make it seem as though there is a common enemy, other than your all’s inaction.
“These – also I want to say, these are people. These are human beings. These are people with lives: the protesters, the residents of Camp 210. It is disgusting to do this to actual human beings. I am ashamed to be someone that lives here.
“I am devastated and outraged that my tax dollars go toward a militarized response, when your citizens have been asking for real, honest housing solutions for years.
“I have been regularly listening in to City Council meetings for the last four months and I don’t think there’s been a single one where it has not been brought up at public comment.
“In October when we were discussing the budget, people brought it up. It gets brought up all the time, because it is the most pressing issue we have in our community, and you all refuse to take it seriously.
“I am tired of hearing that things will be ready in a few months when there had not been a month when this has not been brought up. Your failures are leading to violence. You are hurting the people you claim to serve.
“I don’t know how you sleep at night. I would not be able to. But it’s not too late to stop sweeps and allow us to really work and make actual change for our community.
“Please. We are asking for something that is so crucial, and you all act like it is something that can be put off, something we don’t understand. Please, do what is in your power, which is so much more than what you are doing. You are letting your community down. You are falling your residents and you are failing your elected positions. I yield my time.”
9/23/21 PART SIXTY-EIGHT The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The twenty-third public comment of the night is Jack at 1:38:54 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=5934):
“Hello. Hi, I live across the street from Geri Fields. You know, walking around it this whole year, it hasn’t been used for much. I know why the tiny homes haven’t been built. You haven’t found a location and you’ve been trying really hard. And I acknowledge that.
“I – you know, it’s tricky when no one wants to have these people have a safe place for them in their area. I know that the Port bought the land the City was trying to acquire, and that the airport has said that they – that it’s against their code. But there’s a hotel in the area that’s also against the same code that serves them better.
“I know that even if these tiny homes were built, they have a lot of barriers for the people who need them. You have to be sober, for one. That’s the – what they told me when I asked the one by my house. And, you know, addiction is a huge reason people become homeless in the first place.
“And I believe that everyone deserves shelter and a place to exist that isn’t freezing. Until we are able to find a place for the tiny homes, these sweeps are only causing violence. I saw it when they moved here. So many people lost their things. Ever since they’ve been here, you know, they – they’ve been good neighbors to me.
“And I know that a cop said that there were a break-in at businesses across the street, and that’s part of the reason why they want to sweep it. But, you know, we have to make a decision whether we value the property or these people’s lives more.
“Please, please, ban these sweeps. They are unnecessary violence and let’s let these people have a place to be safe until the City can find more land. And also, you know, lower the barrier on these shelters so that all these people can have a place to stay. Thank you. I yield the rest of my time.”
9/23/21 PART SIXTY-NINE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The twenty-fourth public comment of the night is Jordano at 1:41:46 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=6106):
“Hello? My name is Jordano. And yeah, I support the City Council in passing emergency legislation to put a stop to sweeps and allow un-permitted encampments on public land and – for at lease 60 days.
“Yeah, I mean there’s needs for a variety of shelter options because not everybody, like, has the same needs. It just makes sense.
“And yeah, I guess I just wanted to remind you guys that, when the protesters show up, they show up as citizens and as individuals of the community, and when police show up, they show up with an entire oppressive state behind them and power to legally brutalize people.
“So yeah, I don’t thank law enforcement for their actions January 28th. And I don’t thank the Mayor for that either.
“Yeah, the police were there to kick people out of their shelters at the orders of the Mayor without the vote, as you know, of the Council. And it was community members helping campers move their belongings and holding the City workers and cops back from trashing people’s belongings.
“So yeah, I think that all charges against those – that were brought to those on January 28th should be dropped because the action by the City that day was unprecedented.
“And yeah, I mean, it’s not as simple as stopping sweeps. Your need decriminalize drugs and abolish the police and provide low-cost housing and no-barrier housing and start a rent cap, and yeah, just have more affordable housing. It’s a systemic issue and it needs to be treated as such.
“So yeah, I mean, a few months ago the community spoke, asking that you defund Bellingham Police Department and use the money for housing. And here we are, spending an exorbitant amount of money on cops to sweep the camp at City Hall.
“So yeah, I highly recommend the City Council all take some psilocybin and read Are Prisons Obsolete? I yield my time.”
9/24/21 PART SEVENTY The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The twenty-fifth public comment of the night is Heidi at 1:44:37 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=6277):
“Hi. Hi there. My name is Heidi. Can you hear me okay? Okay. I am fully in support of the Council passing emergency legislation to put a stop to sweeps and allow un-permitted encampments on public land for a bare minimum of 60 days.
“I would also ask that, instead of wasting the budget employing City workers to participate in sweeps, you employ them to actually enforce the dog leash laws in our parks for a change. Thank you.”
9/24/21 PART SEVENTY-ONE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The twenty-sixth public comment of the night is Allie at 1:45:31 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=6331) :
“Hello. My name is Allie…I’ve lived downtown on Holly Street for about 10 years now. I’m also here to indicate my support for my unsheltered neighbors residing at what we call Camp 210.
“I believe that the fact that the encampment exists, despite Base Camp’s presence, is de facto proof that it is needed in this community right now.
“It’s upsetting that some people seem to want to measure our housing crisis by how much they have to look at it. Nobody in Bellingham gets to gate-keep humanity or decide who’s worthy of, like, basic human rights.
“So here you are considering some emergency legislation that would put a stop to sweeps and allow encampments to exist on public land for 60 days.
“As I understand it, all you folks need to do is bring this to a vote tonight. So I am asking you to do so, and to please, vote in favor of such legislation.
“My neighbors have sufficiently articulated all my feelings about the moral reprehensibility and ultimate fruitlessness of that last sweep and the kind of militarized show of force that went along with it.
“So really, I would like to see my City following CDC guidelines for people experiencing homelessness, specifically the considerations for encampments. Let’s just say we need to let people stay where they are and we need to work together. And we need to ensure that nearby restrooms have soap and water and stuff.
“None of that really seems out of reach for Bellingham. So again, I’m just calling on the leaders of this City to please vote on and pass that legislation to stop sweeps and allow encampments on public land. Please tell us that you will end sweeps. Housing is a human right. Thanks. That’s it.”
9/24/21 PART SEVENTY-TWO The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The twenty-seventh public comment of the night is Nicole at 1:47:12 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=6432):
“Hi, can you hear me? Hi, my name’s Nicole…Usually I time myself so I don’t get cut off, but there’s so much to say, so – that I’m just gonna go ahead and talk until you do.
“First of all, I heard that you all have the possibility to bring a piece of legislation to vote that could stop sweeps. Even though, according to the City and BPD websites they’re already supposed to be stopped because they’re illegal.
“Please, for the love of all that is good, decent, or even logical, do this. City Council repeatedly says they can’t do anything but vote on legislation. Fine. Then it’s time for you to do that.
“The CDC says that encampments should be allowed to stay in tact and cities should provide additional sanitation services. Y’all really think you are smarter than the CDC? I, personally, am not having it. Listen to the experts, and listen to the crumb of logic and decency that I believe is somewhere inside of you.
“Stop the sweeps. Don’t let this violent absurdity continue for another moment. The temperatures are going to be in the teens at night this week, and there will be multiple dates when the daytime temperatures never even go above freezing. This is so incredibly dangerous for people who are living on the streets.
“Y’all need to get people in hotels, rent a heated warehouse, or provide about 200 propane heating towers immediately, or risk the very real possibility of hypothermia and deaths.
“Every single winter, this is an issue, and you’ve had since March last year to plan for an increased amount of homelessness, due to COVID. And yet all of your attempts to do the bare minimum to solve this issue are, number one: late, and number two: woefully lacking in the capacity needed. I’m sick of the endless talking. Take some action.
“Mayor, a lot of the same things I hear you say at these meetings, are the same things I see rabid Trump supporters say in the comment section of the BPD’s Facebook posts – like, literally the exact same.
“You’re commending the agency that has a $36,000,000 budget, yet attempts to crowd-fund detective work from its rabid, racist, fan base, by publicly posting a picture of a black woman and asking people to find them.
“You’re commending an agency who actively targets and harasses people who fight to defend human dignity while simultaneously looking the other way when white supremacists show up armed and ready to intimidate.
“Considering that you live in a house worth $750,000 that your mom gave you, you have a lot of audacity to talk down on young people who are literally putting their bodies in front of police to buy time for houseless folks to remove their belongings.
“You keep talking about the tactics of protesters, when you literally sent out a miniature army to evict people in the middle of winter without providing any other options, like you openly lied about the week before. Residents of Camp 210 were woken up with guns in their faces, so think about that.
“City Council, if you really want to show up, you’ll tell your mayor and BPD to stop targeting and harassing protesters. Tell them to drop all charges immediately and put that energy into the growing factions of far-right white supremacists that are being encouraged to -“
Comment was ended by Council.
9/25/21 PART SEVENTY-THREE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The twenty-eighth public comment of the night is Joseph at 1:50:27 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=6627):
“Can you hear me? Okay. Give me a moment. My name is Joseph…I use he/him pronouns and I am speaking as a concerned citizen of Bellingham. I’ve been living here for the past 6 years.
“And I just want to reiterate what my fellow community members have mentioned, especially about the immediate need for water to be restored to the campers. That is such a need for just using the restroom and hygiene, and that can be done immediately. So I’m just really pleading to City Council to do that as soon as possible for the campers.
“And I just want to say the consistent and violent attacks on the unsheltered community is completely despicable. During these freezing temperatures, during a pandemic, and when the houseless-ness is on the rise, such an attack on our fellow neighbors is simply sickening.
“When the – what little the Bellingham City Council has done and Mayor Fleetwood have done is not enough. We have been asking and pleading for months for temporary houses for unsheltered neighbors.
“Imagine what we could do if we put all of our energy into social services and housing these folks, instead of violently displacing them.
“All that stood between riot police and snipers were a small group of volunteers and advocates who were creating – [There was silence for a number of seconds and Council President Stone stated to Joseph that he could not be heard] – since that promise has not been followed up on.
“Bellingham has shown time and time again that they value property over human lives and how they have repeatedly treated houseless people.
“I want to address Mayor Fleetwood and the Council’s treatments toward organizers, volunteers and concerned citizens. It is simply despicable to even claim that these violent protesters – these are your neighbors defending themselves.
“And may I remind the Council and Mayor Fleetwood, Mayor Fleetwood did come to this sweep and watched this heinous and violent act happen, before he went behind police lines and was confronted with outrage over the violent displacement of unsheltered individuals.
“We are not going to forget what happened on January 28th, no matter how much you censor or ignore us. I want to plead with the Council – with the City Council and the Mayor to use the power that they have to put their energy toward lasting issues. I yield the rest of my time.”
9/25/21 PART SEVENTY-FOUR The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The twenty-ninth public comment of the night is Eric at 1:53:32 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=6812):
“Hello, we’re working on it. He’s coming. Yeah, go ahead and start the timer, he’ll be here in just a sec. Yeah, just talk.
“Hi guys. My name is Eric… You know, I represent 210 down here, you know, and we appreciate all the community support we’ve been receiving out here.
“You know you people can’t – you don’t have to be doing this, but you care out of the kindness of your heart, and we’re very much appreciative of that.
“And when it started out here, 210 2.0 isn’t – I instituted zero-tolerance for violence out here. Because I knew that some of my campers who I love and I know personally were being connected to violence that was slowing down the process of this. And so I put no tolerance for violence and it’s been working. We’ve had maybe 4 incidents the whole time we’ve been here, when yet – when at 210 Lottie we were dealing with incidents, multiple incidents every single day.
“So, we know this is working because it’s not chaos right now. But if we are given the opportunity to show the community that we’re willing to cooperate and respect ourselves then this can be something great.
“You know, I see this going all over the place, but this is like, the example. Give us a chance for the example we need. These people know how to respect themselves. Okay, and the people who don’t can be taught. It’s something you can learn.
“And it’s my personal mission to be behind this camp 110%. And I’m going to make sure to do what I can to make sure that safety and the needs of these people are met.
“And so, I’m here because I love the city and I love you guys and thank you for everything.
“You know, our mayor may be a little desensitized and what have you, but you know, without Bellingham, without you guys, we’d be just another group in the cold, just another jungle. But this ain’t the jungle, ‘cause we got a volunteer tank here, we got community support like I’ve never seen before. It’s unprecedented for me.
“You know, and so I feel like we can be the example and we can be the leaders and we can be the, you know, vanguard on this whole thing and spearhead a movement and it can go nation-wide.
“You know, people can take care of themselves. They can learn how to respect themselves and all we need are people who are willing to be accountable, willing to be held accountable, and everybody at this camp is on board with that.
“You know, we had a couple troubled campers here. They have decided they don’t want to live here anymore. So the vibes here is really good – really good energy. And those people at Base Camp that don’t feel safe, and want to feel safe, they can come here and this is a place where you can be safe and secure and you can have dignity and respect until something permanent is made for us to have.
“So thank you guys for all your participation, and reach out to the community. I love you guys out there in the community, supporting us. We’re doing the best we can.
“And we’re streamlining this. We’re going to adapt. Everybody’s behind adapting here. So, you know, there’s no reason we can’t organize on our own behalf. We have group meetings at night and we talk about it and we voice our concerns, so everybody has a voice here, and that’s important.
“So, thank you guys. I gotta get busy.”
9/25/21 PART SEVENTY-FIVE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The thirtieth public comment of the night is Emily at 1:56:55 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=7015):
“Hi, can you hear me? Hi, my name’s Emily…and I am a resident of Bellingham. I’m a student and I’m one of the people who has been down at Camp 210 trying to do the work, that you, our elected representatives, are meant to be doing.
“I stand behind most everything that the previous commentators have mentioned so far. I am here to demand an end to the violent sweeps, a provision of emergency shelter, and permanent housing for all.
“I want to stress again, the urgency of the situation. As previously stated, the next five nights are going to drop below freezing.
“People need shelter immediately. And if you think or say that there’s nothing you can do about it, you’re not only wrong, but you’re uncreative and lazy. Your ignorance and apathy are straight-up killing people.
“Additionally, even if you can’t actively help in the moment, the least you can do is stop the targeted harassment of houseless folks. Whatever you’re calling them, sweeps, cleanups, forced relocations, they are illegal. And if you don’t believe me, read your own bloody website.
“These sweeps don’t help or fix anything, all they do is traumatize and brutalize people. On January 28th, the police were not there to help anybody. They stood and watched with their guns and tasers and a fricking tank, while college kids scrambled to help people gather up their lives and all their worldly possessions.
“BPD recently posted a video on their Facebook page taken from a body cam footage. And within the first two minutes, I watched a police officer grab a man by the head and force him to the ground. That man, not the officer, was later arrested for assault on a police officer. And yet you still have the audacity to say that the police were there to help.
“Check your vision. Stop trying to cover the problem up. Stop lying to your constituents. Strap on a pair and actually do something useful. I yield my time. Good night.”
9/26/21 PART SEVENTY-SIX The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The thirty-first public comment of the night is Indi at 1:59:05 (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=7145):
“Hi, can you hear me? Hi. Good evening, members of the Bellingham City Council. My name is Indi…and I’ve been a Whatcom County resident for almost 10 years. The vast majority of that time, I’ve been a health care worker here in this town, so I’m deeply committed to providing care for this community.
“I’m impressed by the City and County’s ability to come together to keep COVID levels relatively low, and I’m proud to have taken part in that effort.
“I’m also a person who has previously been unhoused, and I – right here in this town. And I am very deeply troubled by what occurred on January 28th. And I urge you to do whatever you can to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
“The militarized police response, including the presence of Border Patrol, of all things, on January 28th, seems to suggest that our city views Camp 210 as some sort of terrorist organization. This simply is not the case. They are unhoused people organizing political action and civil disobedience during a very real housing crisis, which is their right.
“The Mayor attempted to make a distinct – a distinction between the campers themselves, who are ‘peaceful’ and those who showed up on January 28th with the intention of helping and protecting those campers – and characterizing them as, somehow, not the same as the campers themselves. It’s important to note that the campers, themselves, made no such distinction.
“Have there been instances of violence that have, you know, – that have made community members feel unsafe? Yes. But certainly the overwhelming police response was a dangerous over-reaction that only escalated the situation.
“I truly hope the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County will choose a more compassionate and humane approach moving forward. Please stand down.
“Many of these folks are dealing with a lot of untreated trauma, mental health issues, addictions, etc. and it seems only right that we take the high road as a community and come together to meet their basic needs.
“Putting aside the question of whether a militarized police response was justified, appropriate, or even necessary, it was absolutely not a compassionate or trauma-informed response.
“Your – this heavy-handed approach only served to re-victimize people who are already at the bottom of society, and without resources and support. Moreover, it was not at all effective at putting these people into safe, stable and accessible housing.
“In summation, I urge you all to reconsider if this is who we really want to be and how you want to use our resources and our police force as a community.
“Safe, stable, and accessible housing is the answer to homelessness, not law enforcement. Thank you.”
9/26/21 PART SEVENTY-SEVEN The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The thirty-second public comment of the night is Cassidy at 3:12:43, when Council had resumed after a break and attending to some other business, (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=11563):
“Hello, can you hear me? Alright, hi, I am Cassidy. I’m a community representative on the Community Development Advisory Board. But tonight I speak here as a Bellingham citizen.
“As I’m on CDAB, I understand the very small funding of housing and homelessness funding the City has. I also understand that you spent $75,000.00 on the militarized removal of a community outside your lawn, who were just asking for shelter.
“Yeah, the City used $75,000.00 in militant power over an actual housing solution. And, instead, this exacerbated the problem and you still have not provided any shelter with below freezing temperatures this week.
“I find it interesting that the Mayor said that protesters were dangerous and offensive. From my perspective, what is dangerous and offensive is a militarized removal, with snipers, against your own citizens.
“It is your job, Mayor and Council Members, to serve the community. But instead you deepen the trauma and feelings of unsafety of your own community members.
“Moving forward, I urge you all to stop the sweeps – they are illegal and violate the CDC guidelines – and to restore water to the new encampment to meet the very basic needs of your citizens who you are supposed to serve. And I yield the rest of my time. Thank you.”
9/26/21 PART SEVENTY-EIGHT. The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The thirty-third public comment of the night is Will at 3:14:24, when Council had resumed after a break and attending to some other business, (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=11664):
“Hi. Great, my clock is moving. I am Will. I am a resident of the City of Bellingham. I have spent a little bit of time down at Camp 210 – the first one – and I’ve just dropped off some supplies at the second one, as well.
“And I was just Zooming in to throw my support behind the emergency measure that you all have decided to, hopefully review with the utmost haste, at this point, so we might succeed at getting our houseless neighbors some shelter in these extremely cold times that are directly ahead of us – that are here now.
“I would like to continue in that vein and express my lack of satisfaction with the ability of the City to house these people ahead of the coldest weather of the season. That was imminent. Winter happens every year. There’s no reason that this should come as a surprise to you all.
“You know, just take some money and get these people housed. You know, Markis said there’s plenty of shelters ready to be delivered. You know, you might start by sending those right down to Geri Field. Put ‘em in the middle of all the sporting fields. We don’t need to use them for sporting activities right now.
“There is plenty of space if you treat this like an emergency. And I would contend that it is. And many of the other callers this evening also feel that this is an emergency. And I just – I urge you to act urgently.
“You know, find a way, please. I yield my time.”
9/27/21 PART SEVENTY-NINE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The thirty-fourth public comment of the night is Jordan at 3:17:00, when Council had resumed after a break and attending to some other business, (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=11820):
“Hello, my name is Jordan. First of all, it was just astonishing to me to see how many police officers were not wearing masks – either that, or wearing masks incorrectly, or wearing neck gaiters, which have been proven to be less effective than not wearing a mask at all. And to me, that’s not enforcing public safety. That’s threatening public safety.
“Additionally the City spent almost $75,000.00 to remove Camp 210. If the City of Bellingham has enough money to house people experiencing homelessness, why [unable to distinguish] to traumatize them.
“Also, Council Member Gene – I’m sorry, I forgot your last name – but I really urge you to reconsider your opposition to no-barrier shelters. Don’t you believe that everyone deserves to be indoors during freezing temperatures, and to be safe during a global pandemic, whether or not they are sober?
“So many people who I love have struggled with addiction, and it makes me honestly want to cry that you and others maybe feel this way, because we’re all humans and we’re all, you know, just trying our best, and have factors that we can’t control.
“In, yeah – it’s just ridiculous that I’m, like, a 20 year old student and literally doing, like, an art fundraiser to try and help people in my community get basic human needs met. And the City clearly has enough money. It’s just proving time and time again that it’s lacking the dedication to human rights it supposedly upholds.
“And, yeah, I’m just, like, so embarrassed to be living in Bellingham because of this situation, honestly. And it’s, yeah, it’s crazy how, like, a lot of college students and people who have so much less than you all do, City Council Members, are having to be the ones to look out for our community members and to demonstrate our basic empathy and respect for human dignity and equality.
“And people at Camp 210 are already so vulnerable, especially with the pandemic and the freezing temperatures, and they deserve, like, at the bare minimum, respect and empathy, not being chased away or treated unfairly and having their stuff thrown away.
“You know, they barely have, like, any physical possessions and to throw that – to throw away the only items keeping them even, like, a tiny bit warm and a tiny bit protected is just pure evil. Thank you. I’m done.”
9/27/21 PART EIGHTY The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The thirty-fifth public comment of the night is Amanda at 3:19:39, when Council resumed after a break and attending to some other Council business, (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=11979):
“Hey there. My name’s Amanda. I’m with Whatcom County DSA. Held in till the very end here. [Council President Stone requested Amanda give her full name for the record] Yeah, Amanda…
“So, three minutes is really hard to put all of the disappointed-mom energy I have into this.
And sometimes it feels really difficult, because it doesn’t feel like it might be worth it. It seems like so much of the things that people come to public comment with get ‘listened to’ or heard and then ignored.
“So, like, I give you credit, Hannah. You mentioned that you could have a meeting in-between the time that you guys don’t meet to talk about what is clearly an emergency within our city – something that we could have had solutions for before you swept it away, using money that we could have used to fix this.
“The demands have pretty much been the same since this started in November. And it’s just really difficult to, like, try to engage with government to fix something, when it just keeps getting turned into what it is now.
“And as Jordano said beautifully earlier, it’s really funny how this is becoming a repeat of the defund the police movement.
“So, we’ve got a huge section of the community pouring out, pulling together to make things happen and showing you what we would like. And we show up to these things – like, it’s almost 10:30 and we’re all still here talking about it, on repeat. There’s not been really not any other public comment.
“And we’re going to be heard, again, and it’s just such a bummer to see our tax dollars go towards that. And still, like other people have said, we’re in this pickle where we need money. We have no resources. The police budget has it all! And yet they don’t have the resources to teach their police to wear masks properly. I just don’t get it.
“So, yeah, I just really hope that we’re listened to. I know that these emergency ordinances were put in to a point where you guys couldn’t read them. But at least entertain them, or treat them with the importance and urgency that they require.
“Like Markis said – like, the fact that somebody has to come on to a City Council meeting and beg of you to not let people die in the streets is just something else.
“And to appreciate the police and the people who were outside helping clean up – it’s just crazy to me when – I just don’t – it seems really tone-deaf, and that’s a really big bummer. College kids are out there doing stuff.
“Just – I would love for you guys to work together with the urgency that this requires. And that’s all I gotta say.”
9/27/21 PART EIGHTY-ONE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The thirty-sixth public comment of the night is Ben at 3:22:42, when Council resumed after a break and attending to some other Council business, (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=12162):
“Hi can you hear me? My name is Ben… I’ve lived here my entire life. And I have this prepared statement.
“On the City of Bellingham’s website, they discuss their sweep of Camp 210, making a bold and reassuring claim: ‘safety for all people living unsheltered, volunteers, City employees and members of the public remains our primary concern.’
“Taking the City at their word, it seems they are handling the situation admirably. As it turns out, however, these words amount to next to nothing: a fleeting attempt from Mayor Fleetwood to take our eyes off the real injustice, the sweeps themselves.
“Safety appears to be the least of the City’s concern, as they continue to violate CDC guidelines, waste tax-payer money, and offer next to no alternatives for the 90 to 120 members of Camp 210.
“The guidelines that the CDC has laid out for dealing with homeless encampments during the pandemic clearly advise against sweeping encampments. They say, ‘if individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are.’ That doesn’t mean shelters nearing capacity like Base Camp, which seems to be the only alternative the City has offered. They mean actual housing.
“In addition City’s are advised to provide a number of sanitation services and support the camps to ensure their safety. They ask cities to ensure nearby restroom facilities have functional water taps and are stocked with hand hygiene materials.
“The City has also failed to properly maintain restrooms, even cutting off port-a-potty servicing at City Hall prior to their sweep. So how is safety the City’s primary concern if they continue to violate CDC guidelines.
“Elsewhere on their website, the City states – sorry – ‘based on recent court rulings, legal requirements, and COVID restrictions, occupied camps and vehicle clean-ups have been suspended for the time being.’ It seems the City can’t even keep their story straight.
“How about, instead of spending $75,000.00 on sweeping one homeless camp with heavily armed officers, the City dedicates the same money, time, and resources to providing housing and services to the homeless.
“After all, not only is it more humane to house the homeless when Bellingham is about to reach temperatures below freezing, but it is also cheaper. It’s less expensive to house homeless than it is to continually shelter and police them.
“It’s been done before federally, George W. Bush’s Housing First program helps reduce chronic homelessness by around 30% from 2005 to 2007. The Housing First approach put emphasis on permanent housing for individuals before treatment for disability and addiction.
“Finally, Biden signed an executive order that would provide cities 100% reimbursement for housing the homeless in hotels, through FEMA, until September. So the real question is, why isn’t the City doing anything to provide homeless people with a more permanent shelter?
“Instead of spending tax-payer money on removing the homeless from the public view and funneling them into shelters, the City should spend its resources more wisely by establishing housing and better programs to support the mentally ill, and those suffering from addiction. Thank you very much.”
9/27/21 PART EIGHTY-TWO The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The thirty-seventh public comment of the night is Rosa at 3:26:00, when Council had resumed after a break and attending to some other Council business, (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=12360):
“This is Rosa…I would like to say that I’m addressing all my animosity and vitriol to the City Council, the Mayor, and the County Executive.
“It will be below freezing everyday for the next 6 days in a row. I am disgusted, not at you as politicians, but as human beings, that you could be so heartless to people that are hurting because of your failures and policy.
“The one day of fascist action that you had could have bought a dozen shelters minimum. 1%, just 1% of the Bellingham Police budget would buy approximately 75 shelters.
“The fact that the community must tell you this and you haven’t known this and you aren’t acting to an emergency is an insult in the form of the tax dollars that pay your paychecks.
“I would like to continue. Furthermore, how dare you complain of obscene language? What is obscene is that the $50,000 to $150,000 would have bought dozens of shelters. The fact that it was 30 degrees the night of the sweep with snow and freezing rain and windchill that brought it down below the 28 degree threshold – and which there should have been emergency winter sheltering – the City of Bellingham has violated its own laws to defend fascist action against the homeless.
“Obscene and vulgar is the City of Bellingham’s treatment of the houseless population. It is obscene and vulgar spending $50,000 destroying people’s homes and stealing their things – you incompetent jack-asses!”
9/28/21 PART EIGHTY-THREE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The thirty-eighth public comment of the night is Virginia at 3:28:03, when Council had resumed after a break and attending to some other Council business, (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=12483):
“Hi, can you hear me? Hi, my name’s Virginia Herrick. I’m a 30 year resident of Bellingham. Thank you for your ongoing concern for and work on the problem of informal encampments of homeless people.
“Such encampments, with no services and only private volunteers, infusions of supplies and food, but no bathrooms, clean water, power, or security, create problems.
“Yet setting people adrift as has been mentioned multiple times, not only, is not advised by the CDC during a pandemic, but also is traumatic for an already stressed and vulnerable group.
“Camp 210 is not the only place that people are living rough in Bellingham. Others also need services mentioned already this evening, such as water and bathrooms. People who are camping should not be required to move unless there’s some place for them to move that meets their needs. Sweeps, without appropriate selection of alternatives don’t protect anyone.
“So, here are my suggestions. First, in addition to decriminalizing camping for the duration of the pandemic, and making water and sanitation facilities available, it’s urgent to immediately collaborate with local agencies and volunteers to set up multiple warming shelters.
“While alternative housing is being created or found, warming shelters should include several covered spaces with fire pits or other heat sources, benches, or space for folding chairs, socially distanced around the heat sources, (unable to distinguish) hot beverages, a staff person or people to supervise, if need be, eject people whose behavior is violent, and a kiosk where homeless individuals can leave messages for a case manager or social worker.
“One warming shelter could be near Camp 210 or some other downtown location. There should also be warming shelters on the north and south sides of Bellingham, at a minimum.
“Second, please fund emergency operation of a nighttime outreach van with three workers to seek out homeless individuals in distress between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
“Also, third, as soon as possible please establish as many tiny home villages as can be filled and administered by responsible agencies. This should not wait until spring.
“I particularly urge you to award the next available tiny home structures, space, and utilities to HomesNOW because they’re ready, right now, to create Swift Haven 2. They have a track record of local success and have earned the trust of of housed neighbors.
“Thank you very much.”
9/28/21 PART EIGHTY-FOUR The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The thirty-nineth public comment of the night is Emma at 3:30:51, when Council had resumed after a break and attending to some other Council business, (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=12651):
“Hi, can you all hear me? My name is Emma…and I’ve been a resident of Bellingham for the past several years.
“I want to echo the comments that my loved ones made tonight and speak with you about Camp 210 and the housing crisis. To respond to some of the earlier comments, of course Camp 210 is not safe. People’s lives are being threatened every single day by houseless-ness in the midst of a pandemic in the winter.
“But I can tell you that, as a camp volunteer, I’ve never been made unsafe by any of the campers. They’re my neighbors and they have shared care and compassion with me through months of trauma.
“The threat to public health and safety comes from our government’s decision to deprive our neighbors of shelter, not from people having to see our unsheltered neighbors.
“We did not want to be on the lawn in the first place. We want housing to be available to everyone. There is simply no viable option. We can’t keep them warm at camp. And people are literally choosing to go to jail so they don’t have to go to Base Camp.
“Seth, you claim that the militarized sweep was necessary to protect the safety of campers. Yet you evicted our neighbors and refused to offer anywhere else for people to go.
“You claim that your steadfast in your commitment to build capacity – and if I have to hear that one more time – and you’re actively engaged in this effort. And I want to make clear to you tonight that your incompetence and your refusals to take meaningful action to protect the health and well-being of our neighbors will literally cost lives, and we will never forgive you.
“Camp 210 formed in response to institutional failures. If you had adequate solutions to this crisis we would have never been there. But you have consistently refused to serve our community’s most vulnerable. You’ve denied our neighbors access to basic services and you have denied them of their humanity.
“Rather than investing in criminalization of houseless-ness and militarized sweeps, I urge you to invest in housing.
“We refuse to accept your continued rejection of responsibility. Offering housing for 25 or $50,000 for professional services was, and continues to be, an absolutely pathetic proposal presented in the face of the scale of this crisis.
“We took your offer to camp. And as a community, we decided that we would not leave anyone behind. Our community has only grown stronger since.
“And displacement is traumatizing and what you might not have realized is that we grew stronger through this process. We did not get to stay in the same place, but we did stay together.
“Camp 210 is a community forged in crisis. Camp 210 is sustained through mutual aid, and we will continue to do this ourselves.
“We will not leave anyone behind. We will not allow our neighbors to die as a result of your immoral apathy.
“You have the opportunity to take meaningful action immediately. I urge you to use all of your political capital drop all of the charges, deliver amnesty to those who protected our neighbors as best we could.
“You all are talking about buying yourselves some time to be able to breathe, but criminalize those of us who did the same in the face of displacement.
“Venmo is @camp_210. Thank you.”
9/29/21 PART EIGHTY-FIVE The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The fortieth public comment of the night is Lacey at 3:34:06, when Council had resumed after a break and attending to some other Council business, (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=12846):
“Can you hear me? Hi, Council Member. I would like to thank you for your time in advance. Having listened to everything everyone has had to say, the woman by the name of Amanda, who spoke recently, took the words out of my mouth. As a young mother in this town, I never thought I would have to – I never thought that I would experience, or witness what I saw with the police department.
“So, I’m not going to rehash every detail that all but one community member has stated, because I’m in complete agreement, except for that one individual who said we should make this the responsibility of the federal government. Yeah, we could wait that long, but why should we?
“Why don’t we be bold? Why don’t we do something that needs to be done because clearly, it’s not working. We can’t move people from place to place because the unsightliness and the discomfort that these people cause is not going to go away just by moving it to somebody else’s neighborhood.
“If we put those people in permanent houses, nobody ever has to see them again. And not only that, but they can get back on their feet.
“I haven’t heard anybody mention it, but there is a city in Alberta, actually the 7 largest cities in Alberta have instituted the plan, but there’s a place called Medicine Hat and they have eliminated homelessness because they did guaranteed housing for all.
“And as dirty as it seems, sometimes people just need to hear it in raw numbers. And one study in America found, it can cost each individual, every year, as much as $25,000 less, to provide them with a permanent home than to put them into the shelter model, which is clearly not working.
“So, while no-barrier housing is really uncomfortable for people who really have a lot of moral conflicts with these individuals, it doesn’t matter because these people are still going to be homeless. If you deny them the help that they need, they’re not going to stop those behaviors. The first thing we need to do is give them a warm place to sleep.
“And when you guys wrap this meeting up and go to bed at night, I hope you understand that by delaying any action, people will die, and I hope you can sleep comfortably knowing that. Thank you very much for your time.”
9/29/21 PART EIGHTY-SIX The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The forty-first public comment of the night is Sage at 3:37:17, when Council had resumed after a break and attending to some other Council business, (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=13037):
“Hi, my name is Sage… I’m a member of Whatcom DSA, and I’m also speaking as a previously unhoused person.
“So, number 1, stop the sweeps. It’s embarrassing that your excuse that this legislation is just crossing your desk – when you, as law-makers, should have written these ordinances two weeks ago when there were snipers on the roof, or better yet, three months ago, when the first tents went up at City Hall.
“You knew this problem was coming. It’s your job to solve it and it’s embarrassing that citizens had to write ordinances for you because you didn’t write them yourselves.
“Call an emergency session. Austin has bought a hotel. San Francisco has been reimbursed for all of the hotel rooms they’ve bought for homeless individuals. You have no excuses. There’s CARE Acts.
“I understand that you’re part-time employees. But we’re volunteers who have put so much time and energy into handing you the solutions that you conveniently ignore.
“I don’t understand how anyone who understands the legacy of mission work in the U.S. can dismiss the concerns about inclusivity brought up about Lighthouse Mission. Stop using Base Camp as an excuse not to provide safe and welcoming shelter for anyone in our community.
“The council as a whole, would you be allowed into the Lighthouse Mission on your muscle relaxers? Given that Lighthouse doesn’t meet the needs of our community, it seems like the only outcome of the sweeps is to repeatedly traumatize houseless individuals in an effort to placate the complaints of business owners who obviously have your ear.
“And, number 2, related to the comments you’ve made related to the sweep that did happen. Antifa is not an organization. You know that. Antifa means anti-fascist, and if you’re anti-anti-fascist, you need to simplify your equation. If you’re not, find a new scapegoat.
“And last, but not least, I just want to stress that the reason you’re dealing with our peasant problems is because the billionaire class prevents everyone in our community from living a dignified life.
“We’re all one really bad fit away from being houseless. You’re complicit in perpetuating the system. Washington’s tax system is one of the most regressive in the country. Amazon’s combined state and local income tax last year was 2.9%, while the average working-class Washingtonian paid 17.8% in taxes. Get your friends on state legislature to fix this. I yield the rest of my time.”
9/29/21 PART EIGHTY-SEVEN The third Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 8, 2021. The forty-second public comment of the night is Kathleen at 3:40:13, when Council had resumed after a break and attending to some other Council business, (https://youtu.be/tkMOEQPaYSc?t=13213):
“Hello, can you hear me? Hi, my name is Kathleen…and I, of course, whole-heartedly agree with – that I think the police interaction with the homeless people was – it’s – was terrible. But that’s been said a lot.
“I would like to focus on two things. One, that it sounds like the bathroom – the water to the bathrooms near the new campment was turned off, it seems like? Like, it was working and then the camp came, and they turned it off. And that also is in violation of CDC guidelines because the CDC guidelines specifically say that if there’s an encampment, you should work on sanitation and then that’s the most important thing.
“So, it seems like the City is continuing to violate CDC guidelines. And at the beginning of this meeting, everyone was so deferential to the public health person there, and seemed to really value expertise in public health. And so I encourage you all to – I think immediately there needs to be – somebody needs to turn on the water there, posthaste.
“And the second thing is, I really want to address – why are we letting the police walk around without masks on? I think there’s a big elephant in the room in that the police do not police themselves when it comes to wearing masks.
“And it seems so hypocritical that they would violently send snipers to attack these homeless people because it is a health and safety risk, when people who are homeless are more likely to wear masks than the police.
“And that is such – it’s such a flagrant disregard, especially when the police are supposed to be these beacons of safety, and they’re supposed to be the good citizen that the people can look up to, that little children can look up to and be, like, ‘I want to be a police officer someday.’ And yet they’re openly not wearing masks and disregarding masks. And I would like an inquiry into the culture of the police department in Bellingham. And that needs to change immediately.
“And I think it just – it’s just a slap in the face, when they say, oh we care about health and safety and that’s why we’re doing this. And then meanwhile, they are, like, laughing in our faces by not wearing masks.
“And yeah, so those are the two things I would like to highlight. But, yes, and I also think that for every dollar they spend sweeping encampments, they should spend that on motel vouchers and that’s one thing I would recommend. The police shouldn’t be able to do this willy-nilly. Thank you.”
9/30/21 PART EIGHTY-EIGHT The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The first public comment of the night is Christopher at 00:07:28 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=448):
“Hello, Bellingham City Council Members. My name is Christopher…and I work for Fred Meyer, store 667, on Bakerview Avenue in Bellingham Washington.
“I’ve worked for Fred Meyer for 13 years and I’ve been in the retail produce business for almost 38 years. I have the privilege of working with an amazing group of people daily.
“Unfortunately, this past year, a lot of the fun of being at the store with friends and co-workers has greatly been diminished because of the pandemic. Unfortunately this past year, I missed an extended period of time at work because of this virus.
“I initially started wearing a mask to work and was social distancing from customers and co-workers. I was the only employee doing this at the time. Store management had told me to stop doing this because it made co-workers and customers uncomfortable and presented a bad image for the store.
“I did not stop and I stood by my convictions, to protect myself, my co-workers, as well as my customers.
“Initially the store did nothing to help workers by providing PPE, and doing cleaning throughout the day, and monitoring how many people were in the store. Work had become a place of great stress, increasing almost daily.
“My worry for my wife and my co-workers became all-consuming. I did not want to get sick and infect a friend, a co-worker, or my wife.
“It became apparent our company was not taking this very seriously and we were not implementing any changes or safety precautions. On my doctor’s advice, I took a leave of absence due to health conditions, but returned a couple of months later.
“To all at the store, it had become very clear that our company has prioritized their massive profits, over the health and well-being of its workers. Cleaning is now, pretty much non-existent, enforcing customers to wear masks has become almost laughable, and social distancing, and customer count in the store is a thing of the past.
“But day in and day out, we all show up to work, do our jobs to take care of the same people who swear at us, threaten us, because this is our job, our livelihood. Yet we still do it, even at the risk to our health and our loved ones.
“We are not asking for the world with this request for hazard pay or whatever you would like to call it. Kroger is having record profits on the backs of good, hard-working people, but seems to think we are not worthy of any extra pay.
“I ask you as City Council Members to please pass this mandate, allowing us to receive a little extra pay to help us all out. I thank you for your time. And have a good evening.”
9/30/21 PART EIGHTY-NINE The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The second public comment of the night is David at 00:10:33 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=633):
“Good evening, Council Members. My name is David…I am a Bellingham resident and a frontline worker at the Bakerview Fred Meyer where I have worked as a checker throughout the COVID pandemic.
“The grocery industry is booming because of COVID. In fact, Kroger’s profits have multiplied over the past year.
“But the company is not investing enough in safety. And it has not rewarded workers for putting ourselves and our families at risk to keep the stores open.
“I’m here tonight to alert you to the safety issues that should concern the whole community. I’m also here to ask you take the steps to mandate hazard pay for frontline grocery workers in Bellingham, as city councils have done in Burien and Seattle, and a growing number of California cities.
“Every hour I’m at work, I worry about catching COVID. Stress is way up for all of us. But I go to work and put on a face for my customers, because that’s ultimately what I love doing most is helping my customers.
“And it’s heart-breaking, not being able to protect them the way I want to because my employer is not taking safety seriously.
“There are 4 things we’re all being told to do to keep each other safe: social distance, wear a mask, sanitize regularly, and quarantine when sick.
“Well, let’s talk about social distancing. I often work in self-checkout. There’s no such thing as social distancing. We have a sign, but nobody looks at it. Customers pile, up – whole families.
“We have flimsy dividers between the machines, but the company won’t take the simple step of shuttin’ down the middle set of self-checkout registers to allow for more consistent social distancing.
“And what about the rest of the store? Fred Meyer will tell you that they follow the state mandate by capping occupancy at 25%. That doesn’t work, because the 25% figure is based on the size of the whole store, but everybody congregates in grocery.
“And masks? The company refuses to enforce the mask mandate. Most people respect the rule, but some customers are getting bolder about not wearing them. A lot of customers are scared. They ask us all the time, ‘why aren’t you wearing – asking them to wear a mask?’ We feel like we’re not allowed to do anything.
“One time I approached and elderly customer approach another who wasn’t wearing a mask. She asked them to follow the rules. He intentionally coughed on her and said, ‘what are you going to do?’
“As workers, we live with this everyday. When it comes to quarantine, some workers have had to deal with threats or retaliation from managers for doing the right thing and going home when we feel sick. That puts everyone at risk.
“Now, here’s the bottom line: the company wants to maintain this facade of safety with signs and announcements, but they’re not backing it up with dollars and actions. They’re like that homeowner that puts a sign in a yard they have a security system. Guess what? There’s no security system in that house.
“Please join with your frontline, essential grocery workers, for they’re your friends, they’re your family, the people who gladly help you necessitate your needs. We need to demand better from our community providers: safer stores and hazard pay for frontline grocery workers. Thank you.”
9/30/21 PART NINETY The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The third public comment of the night is Sean at 00:13:43 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=823):
“Hello, Council Members. I’ve worked for the Kroger company for 10 years as of this July. The number of very real problems that Kroger allows to persist during this pandemic are too long to list, so instead, I’m going to name just a few of the moments that have stuck with me the most.
“In late February, early March of 2020, we were having a morning huddle by the bakery, and many of my co-workers were expressing concern about COVID-19. Some were asking about having people starting to wear masks. Others were asking if we were going to reduce store capacity to aid in social distancing.
“Rather than discuss any of these very real concerns with them, one of my managers simply said, ‘I don’t know where you guys are getting your information but no one is in danger.’
“A few weeks after this, we were in the early days of lock-down and a group of corporate higher-ups flew in from out of state to visit multiple Kroger stores. When they arrived at ours, one of my co-workers confronted them about the fact that the company isn’t making any effort to limit store capacity.
“After attempting to avoid the question, the higher-up finally said, ‘I’m going to be honest with you, we’re not going to do that.’ And almost a year later, that statement still holds true.
“While in the early months of the pandemic, we had people doing hourly cleaning on surfaces throughout the store, this practice seems to have disappeared entirely. Management seems more concerned with making sure we do our hourly sweeps in case we get a secret shopper.
“Despite alleging that they are limiting capacity in our store, there have been countless times that the building is so packed, that it’s difficult to get product from the stock room out onto the floor, and can quite literally be described as wall-to-wall.
“It was during the holidays that I found out that while we were keeping track of the numbers of customers shopping at any given time, they do not add the employees in the building when considering limiting capacity. And this is our company, in a very real way, not considering their employees as human beings.
“When it comes to making sure that customers wear masks when shopping in our store, management – who are the only ones allowed to talk to customers about putting on a mask – have been very lax. I’ve only seen management approach non-mask-wearing people when asked to by an employee, never of their own accord.
“And worse still, several times customers have refused to put on a mask. Rather than refusing service to that person, managers just open up a register so the anti-mask will make their purchases and leave quickly.
“In recent months, when a person refuses to wear a mask, I’ve seen management merely give up on the situation, walk away, and let the maskless person go about their shopping trip.
“Kroger’s sole purpose during this pandemic is very clearly to reap the benefits by acting as if it’s just business as usual, while doing next to nothing for their employees who are on the frontlines and risk exposure everyday.
“The examples I’ve given here, barely scratch the surface of what we’ve been dealing with for the past year, but hopefully it is enough to convince City Council Members to aid us in making sure that the Kroger company is doing everything it can to keep our community safe ant to mandate hazard pay for our frontline workers, as they have clearly earned it and continue to do so. Thank you.”
10/1/21 PART NINETY-ONE The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The fourth public comment of the night is Kai at 00:16:52 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=1012):
“Hi, I would like to be asked to allow to share a screen. I know that that was an option that I signed up and I know other people have. And I wonder if I could pause the time and enable access to share the screen.
[arrangements and interactions occurred which allowed Kai to share their screen]
“Okay I will share my screen. Can the people see this? [The screen displayed a list of demands and the Council President and City staff confirmed it could be seen]. Okay, well, you can start the timer now.
“My name is Kai, and I’m a – Good evening Mayor, Council Members, guests and community members. My name is Kai, and I’m gonna to speak to you tonight about acknowledgement, about reconciliation, about representation, and about housing.
“I speak tonight because I’m looking for community leadership tonight. I’m a settler of Bellingham for over three years, the PNW for 13 years. And I acknowledge that the land we live is the homelands of the Coast Salish peoples who have lived here since time immemorial.
“I share 3 of the following questions for you by an indigenous community member.
1. Will you commit to creating a land-acknowledgement at the start of your meetings? And what would that look like for you?
2. What projects is the City collaborating with the tribes on?
3. How do we make City projects more inclusive of the tribal community? Additionally, what tangible work are you committing to ensure reconciliation with tribes? These include creating things like healing long houses as suggested by White Swan Environmental.
“I would encourage City officials to meet with community leaders, and marginalized and grassroots groups in the City, who are leading the work toward structural changes.
“Tonight I speak as someone who has been previously unhoused. Although I did not consider myself chronically unhoused, I feel empathy for them, and believe that while everyone deserves shelter, they do not deserve barriers.
“I speak as someone of Chinese descent. Turning to Bellingham’s history [unable to distinguish] then-racist mayor helped expel Chinese people.
“I stand in solidarity with marginalized groups, including our houseless neighbors who carry diverse identities. And these neighbors are not looking for reconciliation that looks like arches – which is important – but importantly they need housing.
“I speak as someone that’s a Unitarian Universalist. This is a tradition that says to honor the inherent dignity of all peoples. I asked my congregation’s social and environmental justice committee if they would endorse the statement to stop the sweeps as many community orgs have done. And they easily said yes.
“I’m not a rep from any groups I mention today, but I stand in solidarity with them. These include the Bellingham Tenants Union, the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, DSA, and many others who have denounced the sweeps.
“These groups often say the CDC guidance on sweeps, stating that if no options are available, allow people to remain where they are, which I agree with, being a healthcare worker and healthcare student.
“I bring up identity, because when Camp 210 was swept, many residents were outraged: students, people of faith, environmentalists, peace groups, a deaf and disability collective, racial justice groups, and more.
“I ask of the elected officials tonight to connect 3 actions tonight that I mentioned in my message, and what many have asked for at the last City Council meeting:
1. Passed the bans proposed on sweeps/camp cleanups – that’s this demand
2. Commit to building no-barrier shelters
3. Drop charges on protesters in Camp 210
Acknowledgement, reconciliation, representation, and housing are diverse issues, but they are intertwined. Will you honor the many people in the coalition of organizations that are asking to put an end to sweeps? Will you honor? If so, your community will be here to support you.
“I look forward to hearing your responses. I yield the rest of my time. Thank you.”
10/1/21 PART NINETY-TWO The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The fifth public comment of the night is Tracy at 00:21:29 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=1289):
“Yes. Alright. Good evening Council Members, and thank you for the opportunity to offer comment. My name is Tracy…and I’ve worked in the grocery industry for more than 30 years. For the last eleven years, I’ve worked as a cashier at the Bakerview Fred Meyer.
“I am here to ask your help in getting our employers to do more to keep grocery store workers and shoppers as safe as possible. I would also ask your support to mandate hazard pay for essential frontline workers at large grocery companies for the duration of this emergency.
“As you may know, these companies have actually been profiting from COVID. Unfortunately, however, they have not shared their windfall profits with the workers who have been taking all the risk, and have been interacting with large numbers of people every single day.
“I have two immune-compromised children at home. I have to work because I am a sole provider. I can’t take time off work to make sure my kids are safe. If I did, I’d have no income and I’d lose everything.
“We are just not doing enough to prevent crowding, to enforce mask-wearing, and to keep our stores sanitized. You know, you go to some other stores around town and they’ve got people at both doors. They’ve got one entry and one exit. Our store doesn’t do that. I don’t understand why we can’t have somebody at each door, counting people coming in, making sure they wear a mask. And if people refuse to wear the mask, why can’t they be refused entry?
“Our lines are terrible. We don’t have enough help to begin with, because they’ve cut our hours so severely. And that makes it hard to keep making us sanitize regularly. And it makes it a hard move – and it makes it hard to move people out of the store quickly.
“So you’ve got everybody trying to go up the aisles and have to walk past these people waiting to be checked out. Our aisles are so tight, you know they get crowded in there.
“Our store has a grocery side, and a general merchandise side. And when they calculate our 25% capacity limit, management includes the general merchandise area. This doesn’t make sense, because most of the people are in grocery. I think they have a limit of just over 600 people in the store at a time for 25%, which is ridiculous.
“Being in the check stand we hear from the customers about their anxiety. They ask, ‘why are there so many people in here? It’s too crowded for me.” A lot of them make comments about the mask and people not wearing it right.
“Experts are saying we should all limit our trips to the grocery store and keep them as short as possible. If coming to Fred Meyer is scary for our customers, can you imagine what it feels like to work in that environment 30-40 hours a week throughout this whole pandemic?
“Kroger, which is owned – owns Fred Meyer, doubled its profits last year. They sent almost a billion dollars to shareholders. Oh – thank you.”
10/1/21 PART NINETY-THREE The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The sixth public comment of the night is Eamonn at 00:24:51 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=1491):
“Hello? Oh, okay. I wasn’t sure if the camera would be on or not. My name is Eamon…I joined the meeting tonight because I wanted to talk about Camp 210 and the houseless members of our community.
“I live in the Birchwood neighborhood with my wife, and our baby, and my retired parents. I teach high school chemistry and physics. My wife is a pediatrician here in town.
“We’ve only lived here for a few years. But in that time, it’s been obvious that Bellingham suffers from the same housing affordability crisis that a lot of cities do.
“I wanted to mention my family and status as a homeowner and a tax-payer to recognize my privilege, but also to – I had the impression in reading the Mayor’s press release after the sweep of Camp 210 and reading some Council Members’ comments that – I saw a lot of references to outside agitators and the sense that – it sounded to me like you were trying to chalk violence up to kind of young anarchists.
“And so I wanted to address the meeting to emphasize to you that there are uptight middle class, liberal, young professionals, like myself, that are also really upset by what we saw.
“I was – it was disturbing to watch the removal of the houseless community members that had camped outside of City Hall. I don’t understand why it needed to be – I think violent is a fair term. Antagonistic, I think, is about the most mild way you could phrase it.
=“I think that the decision was a morally convenient one, and your reasoning sounded hollow to me. I think the occupied protest was justified and I really admired that they took this issue that we all try to ignore, and walk past, and uncomfortably avert our eyes, and put it right at the seat of our government. I think that was the right thing to do.
“And I think we, as a community, and you, as our representatives failed in that moral test. I urge you to not continue to remove homeless members from their encampments. It makes a lot more sense to me that it would be easier to centralize services and try to help some of these folks if they’re not pushed out and scattered around the City.
“I think you don’t do questions and answers here, but I wanna leave you with one question, which is just – I saw a photo from the sweep of a sniper? On the roof? And I wanted to know if that was real or not. I’m shocked and horrified, if it is. Yeah. I’ll leave it there. Thank you for your time.”
10/2/21 PART NINETY-FOUR The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The seventh public comment of the night is Markis at 00:28:08 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=1688):
“Hi, this is Markis…Can you hear me? Hi, this is Markis Dee. I sit on the Homeless Strategies Workgroup as the Homeless Advocate there. It’s a County-appointed position. It is advisory.
“And it’s been my burden, my duty, and my pleasure to try to represent and to try to negotiate on behalf of the many unhoused neighbors that we have in Whatcom County, and specifically, that spent time at Camp 210, later to become – sooner or later to become known as the Collective – which is a group of campers who wanted to represent themselves and sent [unable to distinguish] people to try to speak on their behalf. I was glad to be any part of that.
“It is in that hope that – I’m hoping – I’m trying to pick up on – I’m hoping to try and pick up on the same negotiations where we left off.
“I’ve recently gotten together with a group of very strong outreach personnel who, we’re very excited to present: S.O.S. Bellingham, Serenity Outreach Services. And we want to help you all with – I noticed today, in the Committee of the Whole meeting that we were having – that you all are desirous of trying to fill that gap. And I’m – we’re hoping to help you fill the gap.
“We’re hoping to – with using outreach services, and boots on the ground, and real relationships with the people out there – get them hooked up with the services that are really here, identify the areas where they don’t work, and let’s just fix it together.
“We do want to be part of a sheltering program, an emergent need. We are in an emergency. I think that it’s very important that we all remember that we have extra emergency dollars around right now. And there are some really cool solutions brewing, but we have to take advantage of those dollars, right now, to buy tiny homes with, is one of the answers.
“And if you’ve got other answers, that’s great. Let’s hear it. Let’s talk about it. Let’s do that with that money. But let’s get it done. Let’s even ask for more money and make that happen, because once we own those shelters, then we can start to bring the social programs in under the same budget we’ve already got, roughly. And that would be great.
“So, S.O.S. wants to help you do that. S.O.S. wants to be a part of the solution. S.O.S. wants to be a partner with the other partners out there. And we want to help you all identify where the barriers are that are stopping clients from getting their needs met, and try to smooth that out, try to make it not such a bumpy ride from the top all the way down to the bottom, and all of a sudden, back up.
“Let’s try and graduate stuff and do it smartly.
“I’m looking forward to working with all of you. I’m looking forward to, very soon, a meeting with executives of both City and County. I appreciate all your time. And I appreciate all your efforts today in the Committee of the Whole meeting. It’s refreshing to hear you all stretching your brains on this. Let’s do it together. I’m right here. Thanks.”
10/2/21 PART NINETY-FIVE The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The eighth public comment of the night is Brel at 00:31:20 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=1880):
“Hi, good evening. My name is Brel…and I want to start by saying that I stand in solidarity with the frontline workers who are requesting hazard pay.
“At the Committee of the Whole meeting today, Council Member Stone asked the Mayor, point blank, if the encampment at Geri Field is evicted by the City, where will the opt – where will the options be that will be offered to residents who are forced to move?
“The Mayor’s response was predictable, yet frustrating. He had no tangible offerings. His solution is to bring in service providers like the HOT team, but he presented no actual alternative locations.
“I was very disappointed in Council for not calling him out on this obvious evasion of the question that was asked of him. I was also so disappointed that no Council Members responded to Council Member Lilliquist’s suggestion of exploring an alternative ordinance.
“Throughout the meeting lip service was paid to finding other solutions and having future discussions, yet when a tangible solution was being proposed as something to continue exploring, the silence was deafening.
“I would love to hear from any of you directly, later on in this Council meeting why you decided to not back your fellow Council Member on creating and interim emergency solution to a need that exists, when currently there are no viable alternatives for many people without shelter.
“During the meeting, Lilliquist and others named all the reasons why Base Camp isn’t a viable shelter for so many.
“Even Lisa Anderson, who objected to the proposed ordinance, suggested that the City provide alternative camping sites that are allowed by the City if they are going to be evict – if they are going to evict people from sites. She doesn’t want the City to just “continue moving people from one site to the other even if the City doesn’t have enough partners to operate sites.” Again, this idea was met with silence by the rest of the Council.
“No one offered a meaningful rebuttal to Rick Sepler’s insistence that the current code is adequate and that finding operators will solve this issue. Let’s be honest with ourselves, in this moment, no one in the community has stepped forward to be – become a legal operator for a very low-barrier encampment.
“I do have faith that an entity will someday soon materialize, but until that time comes, chasing people from one site to another, in the form of sweeps and camp cleanups is not a solution. It is dehumanizing and unethical behavior that the City’s enforcing.
“What was even more disappointing about the Committee of the Whole meeting was that the concerns raised by the City surrounding the proposed ordinance, could have easily been taken into consideration and amendments could have been made.
“In my email to you this morning, I also provided the amendments that would restrict encampments from being in critical environmental areas, or within 600 feet of schools or childcare facilities. You could have easily had more direct discussions about these concerns and amended the ordinance.
“As someone who helped draft the ordinance, it was frustrating, because writing ordinances is not my job, it is yours. And yet you were given a starting place by community members to create a real solution for our immediate emergency needs, but this opportunity was totally squandered today. Where is your leadership? What is holding you back?
“What do you say to the question that remains -“
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
10/2/21 PART NINETY-SIX The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The ninth public comment of the night is Sally at 00:34:35 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=2075):
“Hello. My name is Sally. But tonight I’m speaking on behalf of a comrade, and somebody who was living at Camp 210 at City Hall and was volunteering there, as well.
“And so these are their words:
“’Some might ask about what it is like to be homeless. To be homeless and living on the streets is something most have never experienced and some have never seen – forever being judged, humiliated, photographed, and recorded. For what the pleasure of having us exploited made to look like animals in the jungle, wild and untamed. No human decency of morals, so they say. We are humans too. We have feelings, just like you. There is no reason to fear us.
“’Maybe instead of being violent towards us, you should have some compassion and not judge for once. So the next time you see us walking down the street, on the corner at a red light, laying on the sidewalk, show a random act of kindness and say hi, or just smile and wave. You never know, it might just make their day.
“‘Being homeless isn’t easy. It’s the hardest journey I’ve ever been on in my life, but I’m thankful for this learning experience and this life lesson, because I now know what it is like to have nowhere to go, wonder where or when your next meal is going to be, wonder how you’re going to stay dry and warm when the rain, wind, storm, snow, and freezing temperatures hit.
“‘Thankfully I ended up meeting the most amazing group of volunteers and campers at a protest on the City Hall lawn for housing for the homeless. They are the most caring, compassionate, dedicated, hard-working, give you the shirt off their back types. They continue to show up for us, day in, and day out, rain or shine, even in the snow, and through very – and through every bad storm we endured, making sure we had all the necessities and then some, to continue surviving winter together.’
“And that’s the end of what Fonics wrote. I just want to say that they are also a volunteer and all of those lovely things that they said the other volunteers are.
“And, on another note, I just want to say to Fred Meyer workers – this is what happens when you live in a capitalistic society. Corporations just care about profit. They don’t care about people. And that goes for what we’re seeing with the City of Bellingham not providing housing for everybody.
“There are empty motel rooms, there are empty homes. There’s literally enough housing for everybody. Scarcity is a myth.
“And, yeah, I just – and yeah, it’s pathetic that we have police officers targeting protesters and, specifically, protesters that are black and brown, specifically – obviously racially profiling protesters. So we want amnesty for all of those being targeted by thug cops that you guys pay for.”
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
10/3/21 PART NINETY-SEVEN The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The tenth public comment of the night is Patrick at 00:38:46 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=2326):
“Hello. Hi, my name’s Patrick. In conversations that I’ve had with Bellingham City Council Members, kind of in the broader conversation that I’ve seen regarding housing for all, we keep getting told this lie that providing housing for all is just too complicated of an issue – that there are too many logistical or financial challenges with providing housing to everybody in the City of Bellingham.
“My question is, if the City of Bellingham is truly in such a state of financial and political crisis that it can’t meet the most basic requests of its constituents for housing in an unprecedented global pandemic, in one of the coldest winters we’ve had in recent memory, how is it possible that a militarized – a highly coordinated militarized sweep towards Camp 210 could be achieved? How were there the resources to dox protesters over social media?
“It’s really clear by these actions that there isn’t a lack of money, there’s a lack of – excuse me – there’s a lack of compassion. There’s – all of the people in power in the City of Bellingham lack any sort of compassion.
“So I reiterate the demands my peers have made to dropping all charges made relating to the January 28th sweep, that the 27 ongoing investigations and targeting of protesters needs to stop, and that permanent no-barrier housing be given to all.
“Every person who dies. Every person whose lives are irreparably damaged by your actions are blood on your hands. I hate you all. I yield the rest of my time.”everybody. Scarcity is a myth.
“And, yeah, I just – and yeah, it’s pathetic that we have police officers targeting protesters and, specifically, protesters that are black and brown, specifically – obviously racially profiling protesters. So we want amnesty for all of those being targeted by thug cops that you guys pay for.”
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
10/3/21 PART NINETY-EIGHT The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The eleventh public comment of the night is Gail at 00:40:39 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=2439):
“Hello? Hello? I’m – I haven’t had – I have, like, no volume up. Can you hear me at all? [Council President Stone acknowledges that Gail can be heard, but there is an echo] Okay, I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve just been sitting here and listening, and when I got on, it threw me off the entire meeting. [Council President Stone asks if Gail is listening on a separate device] I am listening on my computer. It’s been going fine, and then when you said my name, you said unmute. I unmuted and it threw me out. And I’ve gotten back in now, somehow, but – I’m sorry to have this echo. [Council President Stone assures Gail it is okay and that there is just an echo]. I see you Hannah. I see my name. [Council President Stone asks if Gail’s computer volume can be turned down]. It’s just about all the way off. Is that better? [Council President Stone responds that it is better.] Is that better? I can’t hear you now. Is that better? [Council President Stone repeats that it is better.] Okay, shall I start talking?
“Okay, my name is Gail…and I would like to differ with quite a few of the people who spoke before, this evening. I actually want to thank the City Council and Mayor Fleetwood for your calm leadership and your attempt to help out our homeless brothers and sisters.”
This is an excerpt from Gail’s comment. You can listen to her entire 2/22/21 public comment at this link: https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=2439
10/3/21 PART NINETY-NINE The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The twelfth public comment of the night is Alli at 00:45:06 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=2706):
“Hello, I’m Alli Willis. I live in downtown Bellingham and I’m here to speak in support of my unhoused neighbors this evening.
“I’m joining my community members in asking you all to please do your part to drop charges and investigations regarding protesters and community members at Camp 210.
“I am especially, kind of offended by the racial profiling, and just really, racialized component of the way that unfolded.
“And I am asking you to please enact no-barrier shelters and permanent no-barrier housing for all in my community – and to please enact a permanent ban on encampment evictions. I really would like to see more aggressive leadership on this issue. Please hear the community and the volunteers on these issues. Thank you very much. That’s all for me.”
10/4/21 PART ONE HUNDRED The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The thirteenth public comment of the night is Scott at 00:46:49 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=2809):
“Hi, it’s Scott…here. Hi, it’s Scott…here. Hello City Council and neighbors. This is the fourth time I’ve called into a City Council meeting as a resident of the Puget neighborhood and – to talk about the impact of the homeless camps here.
“Swift Haven continues to be a bright spot. The camp is clean, quiet, and dignified. I am proud to have this camp in my neighborhood. The City and HomesNOW both deserve thanks and recognition.
“The City also showed leadership and initiative by opening a warming shelter through the coldest weather recently.
“Camp 210 at Geri Fields and the camp at Salmon Woods continue to bring issues to our neighborhood. I would like the City Council to solicit feedback from the neighbors directly adjacent to the Civic Athletic Complex and consider that feedback separately from other public commentary.”
This is an excerpt from Scott’s comment. You can listen to the full public comment at this link: https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=2809
10/4/21 PART ONE HUNDRED ONE The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The fourteenth public comment of the night is Lauren at 00:50:29 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=3029):
“Hi. Thank you, Council. I’d like to start by saying that the Whatcom Democratic Labor Alliance, at their last meeting, mentored the hazard pay ordinance that Seattle just put through to get frontline grocery workers extra pay and support.
“Bellingham should look to Seattle’s ordinance as a template. The city council members in Blaine have had a similar hazard pay ordinance added to their agenda docket from today’s meeting.
“The grocery industry is one of the few sectors reporting record profits during the pandemic, meaning they should be obligated to support their employees who are doing valuable work. So let’s show them our support.
“Next, I would like to urge the Council to continue the work on short-term sheltering, and emergency housing that provides temporary survival support on a quick path to a permanent Housing First-modeled program.
“I’d like to call for the continued development and expansion of programs like the GRACE and LEAD programs, as well as the protocol to rely on unarmed behavioral health professionals to respond to mental and community health-related emergency calls, including matters concerning those in our community that are houseless.
“I would like to say I am proud of the work I’ve seen done at Camp 210 and the new, relocated camp. I’ve been someone that has had the privilege to volunteer there, myself. And I would urge anyone that is interested in learning more about the camp to consider what it would be like to live there.
“If neighbors that have called in this evening, and others around the community that I have heard having different feelings about the existence and efficacy of a camp like this, I would urge them to consider, if this is such a terrible place to live, imagine if it was also the best place you had to go to survive.
“If it’s as interesting to you as it is to the rest of the community to get this matter solved urgently, then you should be on the side of calling for direct emergency housing that would lead towards Housing First low to no-barrier housing for permanent housing.
“I thank the Council for this time and I urge the community to have a heart this evening.”
10/4/21 PART ONE HUNDRED TWO The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The fifteenth public comment of the night is Beth at 00:52:40 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=3160):
“Good evening, City Council. My name is Beth…I am here tonight to express my increasing concerns with the unsanctioned encampment at Geri Field and ask that the City take immediate action.
“I am fully supportive of the sanctioned and permitted HomesNOW site. Swift Haven is secure. It has facilities for its residents. There is no noise. There are no fires. There is no build-up of solid waste. There is no destruction of park property. The site and its residents adhere to COVID protocols. It also went through a process that included public input.
“Swift Haven provides shelter for people who are experiencing homelessness and it exists in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood.
“I agree that housing options are needed for people in our community who are experiencing homelessness. However, continuing to allow individuals at Geri Field to violate codes that are intended to ensure the well-being of all residents, and to inhabit a public space is not a solution.”
This is an excerpt from Beth’s comment. You can listen to the full public comment at this link: https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=3160
10/5/21 PART ONE HUNDRED THREE The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The sixteenth public comment of the night is Melissa at 00:55:13 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=3313):
“Hello, everyone. Hey, so, yeah, sounds like you guys need an operator real bad.
“I would first like to address the Fred Meyer workers. My heart is with you. I fully support everything you are asking for. I fully believe that you need hazard pay. And they really do need to start regulating that store. So, I hear you.
“So, yeah, we are here. We are Serenity Outreach Services and it sounds like you need us real bad now. So I just wanted to extend an olive branch and let you know that we are super, super ready.
“There’s an emergency, and there is a huge need for emergency low-barrier sheltering and outreach services and wrap-around services to ensure people in a low-barrier shelter can be monitored properly and get the additional services they need to stay healthy and out of trouble.
“So, yeah. So we’re here and we’re ready to work with you. I have sent you all an email today – a letter of intent, introducing ourselves and letting you know we are ready to resume talks about getting some sheltering, and we would love to do that as soon as humanly possible.
“This is a pandemic still. And we are still in the middle of winter. And I just got an alert on my phone that we’re heading into another really cold snap here real soon.
“And it sounds like you’ve got a lot of upset people down there at Puget neighborhood that are really, really wantin’ you to do something. But if you sweep, you’re just going to wind up with another neighborhood calling you at City Council and yelling at ya.
“So you probably, really do need to work with us. And we need to come together and get sheltering for these people so that we don’t have to keep doing this over and over again.
“I feel like we can break this cycle and we can do some real good work here. So we are looking really forward to working with you and I look forward to hearing from you very, very soon.
“Thanks for your time, City Council. Always remember that we are on Salish Coast land and we should strive everyday to acknowledge that. Thank you so much. Have a great night.”
10/5/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FOUR The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The seventeenth public comment of the night is Kathryn at 00:57:33 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=3453):
“Hi, can you hear me? Okay, great. I’m just calling to lend my voice in support of the demands to drop all related charges to the January 28th sweep, as well creating permanent no-barrier housing for everybody.
“You guys know what we want. I just wanted to lend my support to that.
“I am a little bit frustrated with the amount of Not In My Back Yard comments that are happening, but I’m not surprised. It’s rough out there guys. Let’s take care of people – all people. Thanks.”
10/5/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FIVE The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The eighteenth public comment of the night is Julia at 00:58:28 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=3508):
“Hi, can you hear me? Julia…Hello, Council Members and City of Bellingham. My name is Julia, and I am a volunteer with the Collective. I work with 210 and now at Civic Field. I acknowledge that we’re on Salish land and I don’t speak on behalf of the Collective or 210. I speak on behalf of myself.
“The people I interact with, campers and volunteers alike, they are not criminals and not degenerates of society. Please follow the CDC guidelines and respect the lives of Bellingham by dropping all charges on the ongoing investigations and targeting protesters from the January 28th sweep.
“You guys aren’t the only ones who have done this in this community. And this is violence. And I don’t speak on behalf of any BIPOC members of the community, but it scares me as much as I’ve seen it scare them.
“We also need permanent no-barrier housing. I attest to that, as well. I – we also need to understand that, you know, there’s people with mental health and drug rehabilitation issues on the line. And people who show signs of growth in rehabilitation is a way to develop social credit to pull people out of social, physical, and mental prison.
“With these sweeps, it’s inhumane actions of society, and you’re displacing these individuals and shoving them to the side. Just because it’s not in your back yard, doesn’t mean you don’t see it. And forcing this from one end of the town to the other is not a solution.
“You know, homeless people are not objects. They aren’t a spectacle. We can’t – you know, we don’t move them around like, you know, ugly lamps in your living room. These people need love. And you know, students need jobs. Use these two things to help one another.
“And I’d like to conclude by saying, please change the system from the inside. You know capitalism sucks. You’ve heard us all say it. Attempt to change our system of oppression by providing funds for mutual aid and making the community support and surveillance a governmentally funded system. I yield my time.”
10/6/21 PART ONE HUNDRED SIX The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The nineteenth public comment of the night is Leslie at 01:01:04 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=3664):
“Yes, can you hear me? Okay, first of all, I wanna start with, how many professions include the question every morning when going to work: will I come home alive tonight? To say the least, police deserve combat pay.
“On to the Geri Fields issue. The fields are across the street from the Bellingham trail system, where human feces and used toilet paper are being found. On the street, less than a block away from there – the children’s bike track and the skateboarding track – are used drug needles.”
This is an excerpt from Leslie’s comment. You can hear the full public comment at this link: https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=3664
10/6/21 PART ONE HUNDRED SEVEN The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The twentieth public comment of the night is Samantha at 01:03:28 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=3808):
“Hi, good evening Council City Members. My name is Samantha. I’m a downtown resident. I would like to take a moment to display my disappointment in the City of Bellingham.
“The City’s decision to sweep Camp 210 was embarrassing, as it showed an outrageous display of power by the Bellingham PD and overall lack of humility.
“I first moved downtown in August 2020. And one of the first things I noticed was the outright human suffering that was occurring throughout my new neighborhood.
“When Camp 210 was set up in November, I noticed a large decrease in displays of distress, less people going through my apartment building’s garbage and overall conflict.
“The City of Bellingham fails to recognize the benefits of homeless encampments. Homeless camps with proper services and support offer stability, safety, autonomy, community, overdose prevention, access to services, and storage for belongings.
“During a global pandemic, one would think that an open-air outdoor camp would be the safest option for this vulnerable population.
“The eviction that occurred on January 28th was distressing and traumatizing for homeless community members and puts at-risk people more at risk. It displaces community – people – it displaces people and makes it more difficult for them to get services.
“And what was the point of the sweep if the City had no valuable alternative? If the City’s goal was to evict those at Camp 210 because of concern for public safety, then the City absolutely failed.
“Ultimately housing is a human right. Shelters are not a reasonable solution because they deny services to those with criminal records, those with mental health problems, and those with substance abuse problems.
“I demand that the City of Bellingham comes up with an actual solution to tackle the housing crisis in the City. This begins with a ban on encampment sweeps like recommended by the CDC, and access to housing for all.
“Let’s get creative and come together with ethical long-term solutions with all community members in mind in order to further protect homeless and vulnerable community members.
“I also demand that accessible COVID-19 testing sites need to be available, and that vaccinations for homeless populations in Bellingham should be more prioritized. Thanks for listening. I yield my time.”
10/6/21 PART ONE HUNDRED EIGHT The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The twenty-first public comment of the night is Mary at 01:06:04 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=3964):
“How are you supporting businesses to pay taxes, to support non-profits, to support each other, and to provide jobs? You know, we just cannot be a organization, a community that just doesn’t support each other. We have to support each other.
“But it just doesn’t mean we get to have young people yelling and shouting and screaming about capitalism and this kind of thing. It’s just is a little weird.
“We need to actually have some community members, some business members, and get some input and just have some common sense. So, where’s the common sense, guys? I’m asking for my friends, and ourselves. Thank you.”
This is an excerpt from Mary’s comment. You can listen to the full public comment at this link: https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=3964
10/7/21 PART ONE HUNDRED NINE The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The twenty-second public comment of the night is Emma at 01:09:12 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=4152):
“Hello, can you hear me? Hello. Good evening, Mayor Fleetwood and City Council Members. My name is Emma…and I’ve been a resident of Bellingham for the last several years. I’m a working professional and I’d like start by voicing my solidarity with the frontline workers and their demands for hazard pay and safer working conditions.
“I understand that many of you have had issues with the pieces of legislation you that were presented to you, if you bothered to read them at all.
“And I feel the need to remind you that you are elected officials. This is quite literally your job as City Council Members. So, rather than hand-wringing and spouting off what-about-isms, I would ask that you introduce your own legislation to get the job done. But if you have nothing better to offer, you’re not contributing toward solutions, you’re only extending the crisis.
“I keep hearing many of you propose the same “solutions” that you’ve tried before, expecting there to be different results. But what you’ve done in the past has only gotten us to this point.
“You’re continuing to leave behind the same people that you left behind last year, and the year before that.
“You should absolutely identify, partner with, and fund more organizations to offer housing programs in our community. But finding more operators will only get us so far.
“The organizations that you’ve worked with, been working with, want to work with, only have the capacity to do so much. They will only house so many people, only support some people, and only for so long. And the need for permanent no-barrier housing is not conditional.
“The need for immediate solutions is so, so much larger than any of our local service providers and non-profit organizations are equipped to handle. And that’s not even a critique of those particular providers, but simply a reflection of the current crisis.
“This is a direct result of the systems we are living under, operating as they were intended to. This is where we find ourselves when our elected officials comply with business as usual. You are complicit in the dehumanization, in the disproportionate violence, and the premature death that our neighbors an our loved ones are continuing to be subjected to everyday.
“Now, I know most of you, if not all of the City Council Members consider yourselves to be kind people, strong on social issues, perhaps even liberal or progressive. And I want to make it clear, you are willfully choosing, each and every single day, to continue subjecting our community members to this violence and trauma.
“Earlier today, I heard Council Members commenting on their deep concerns for the impacts of un-permitted encampments, demonstrating their complete detachment from the actual conditions on the ground.
“You may not look – like the look of the encampments. Perhaps it reminds you of your own moral failures. I can tell you that there wouldn’t be so many – so much trash piling up if you provided more dumpsters. It took weeks to get even one to Geri Fields. There wouldn’t be public urination if you provided restrooms, so that one toilet didn’t overflow.
“If you’re so concerned about health and sanitation, you should be providing access to running water, rather than chasing folks down in the middle of a pandemic. If you genuinely wanted to provide stability and security to people, you would embrace the call for permanent no-barrier housing and to put a ban on encampments and cleanups.”
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
10/7/21 PART ONE HUNDRED TEN The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The twenty-third public comment of the night is Sin at 01:12:30 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=4350):
“Hello. Can you hear me? Thank you. I sat in the meeting earlier, which was reviewing and giving an analysis of the – what do you call it? ordinance change? Sorry. And some of the things I wanted to call attention to were, one, to start, Sepler – Rick Sepler, himself, mentioned multiple times that these ordinance changes would not be in the best interests of the public. And I want to ask, who is the public? Who is the public?
“Who are your constituents? Do they not include those that are living out on the streets? I bet that he would likely respond that, yes, it does include those people. But what is in their best interests?
“I want to call attention to the fact that Seth, on multiple occasion – on multiple times at that meeting had said that resources would be taken from places where they could be better allocated.
“And I ask you, where is it that you think those resources could be allo – better allocated than people who have significantly less than you, Seth, with your big house on the hill that your mom gave you? Like, these people have nothing, dude. Okay, think about that.
“We need to give resources to people who have less than you are capable of understanding. Okay, and everybody thinks that people that, like, people out on the street are slobs and disgusting people. But you would be just as “disgusting” as they are, if you didn’t have trash services.
“I believe it was – I think it – I can’t remember who it was – one of you all in that meeting – that was, like – I think it was Lilliquist, actually, finally – pointed out – he was like, yeah! This will be a real thing for us too, like, we’d be kind of messy and kind of dirty too, like, if we didn’t have access to services.
“So, I mean, stop focusing on how disgusting you think homeless people are and start focusing on where you’re going to allocate those resource, okay? I can name 5 people right now that are between the ages of 17 and 24 that there are no solutions for.
“I don’t care if you think that the PAD and Northwest Youth Services is enough. It’s not. Okay? “I want to hear about those hotel vouchers that you’re talking about for children and families, for those that are in-between the ages of 17 and 24 in complicated situations, because they are not lost causes. They are not lost causes, and this City treats all these people like they are lost causes. And it’s disgusting.
“We are out here doing this work. Give us the resources to take care of these people, because you don’t want to. So we will do it. Stop creating barriers. Stop it! I yield the rest of my time.”
10/7/21 PART ONE HUNDRED ELEVEN The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The twenty-fourth public comment of the night is Nicole at 01:15:38 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=4538):
“Hi, can you hear me? Hi, my name is Nicole…I’ve been watching these meetings every week since September and I’m routinely floored at all of your capacity to completely ignore the valid concerns of your constituents and instead, choose to tone-police us and straight-up hop-scotch over any meaningful action.
“Nothing has changed, and I’m literally bored to tears by the unoriginal tropes that y’all are obsessed with enacting.
“I’ll tell you what I want up front: I want BPD to stop targeting protesters and using their social media accounts to encourage their followers to play vigilante detectives against protesters standing for the homeless community.
“I want all charges against protesters dropped. I want a permanent ban on encampment sweeps. And I want permanent no-barrier housing for all.
“And, I also support the essential grocery store workers who’ve been calling in tonight. I want them to receive hazard pay for the disproportionate risk they’re taking in for the comfort of the rest of us.
“For all of you City Council Members, if you’re listening to these demands and thinking, ‘We can’t do anything. That’s not what City Council does,’ – I need all of you to stop being so boring and predictable in your inaction and try harder to get creative with what your powers can do.
“Additionally, to a previous commenter who asked if the photo of snipers on a roof on the day of the sweep was real: yes, it was real. Many of us watched them up there for hours.
“Additionally, I think it’s really telling that the callers from the Puget neighborhood are absolutely loving a tiny home village that’s enclosed with a chain link fence, that has bathroom, showers, and a kitchen.
“All of the things that you all are mad at Camp 210 for are results of a lack of services from the City. You’re mad about fires? It was 17 degrees last week. And the City hasn’t turned on electricity at Geri Fields.
“You’re mad about public urination. The City won’t provide bathrooms. If you’re uncomfortable about these things, feel free to either join us in advocating for housing for all, or redistribute your wealth and sponsor some port-a-potties and generators for heaters for the camp.
“On optics: It’s become increasingly obvious to me that many who both sit in positions of power, and within the community, are concerned about reputations, appearance, and optics.
“This is proven by Knutson’s, Anderson’s, and Vargas’s obsession with completely ignoring serious concerns about human safety to, instead, lecture commenters on their word choice, as if we are all Puritans. Maybe you are. We aren’t.
“This is further proven by the community commenters who wanna talk about how homeless encampments make the City look bad or hurt businesses.
“I think the focus is frivilous, but whatever. Let’s talk about optics. In the same week that Bellingham made national headlines for enacting a militarized sweep against an encampment. The City of Austin, Texas made national headlines for buying a hotel to permanently house homeless folks with money that they cut from the police budget.
“It’s interesting how progressive Bellingham is looking like an authoritarian nightmare, while a city in Texas is at least attempting some real solutions.
“I’ve got so much more to say. Like, I could go on for an hour. I’ll email y’all. I yield my time.”
10/8/21 PART ONE HUNDRED TWELVE The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The twenty-fifth public comment of the night is at 01:19:07 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=4747):
“Hello? Can I share my screen? I’m still not able to. Can you see my screen?
“Okay, so what you see before you is an armed white supremacist who decided to show up to last week protests, calling for the amnesty for all protesters and for charges to be dropped.
“These individuals – there were three of them – are known for harassing, targeting, and threatening the lives of activists all over Washington State. They are not Bellingham residents. They do not live here. They are not your constituents.
“That being said, I have not heard either Seth Fleetwood or BPD denounce them as outside agitators. There were children at this protest. There – everyone there was peaceful.
“And as you can see, he was carrying a gun. They all had knives and they were actively antagonizing folks.
“So I think it reveals, not only the complete lack of understanding displayed by the City Council, and our Mayor, but also the underlying, and at this point, blatant racism that is present in all of your minds.
“I demand that the charges against all protesters are dropped. I demand the BPD take down their public doxing of alleged suspects. This is disgusting. This is disgusting.
“And you guys are not only enabling, but actively allowing white supremacy to ferment within our town. I yield my time.”
10/8/21 PART ONE HUNDRED THIRTEEN The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The twenty-sixth public comment of the night is RJ at 01:23:45 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=5025):
“Hi there, folks. My name is RJ…and I proudly live in the Puget Neighborhood which is nestled within traditional Coast Salish land.
“I’ve chosen this City as my home. I love each and every single person that I’ve met here. I think the sunset on Bellingham Bay is more beautiful than any other one I’ve seen in my life time. And I can’t imagine what my life would be like without this city.
“The only thing that the City lacks is leadership. True leaders will ask for help. And they most certainly do not ignore it when it comes knocking on their door.
“To violently displace a cooperative effort to solve the crisis that the City has ignored for years is completely antithetical to the concept of responsible leadership.
“I, personally, have reached out to every single individual on this Council, at least once, since the sweep at City Hall on January 28th and have not received a single appropriate response.
“When I was finally able to reach a specific member of the Council, who agreed to meet with me, I was met with deafening silence as soon as I suggested a time and a place.
“I hope that this is a simple miscommunication, a result of being buried in an inbox, but it is very difficult to imagine that there is not a local government here in town that is just simply not interested in serving the populace it was elected to represent.
“For those that take tax-payer money, your responsibility is to your constituents. If you cannot make time to meet with these constituents, please step aside, so that true public servants can use your salaries to make change – or, please donate your inflated salaries to groups or individuals that make positive change in our community possible.
“For those on the Council and our community that are not directly affected by homelessness, please know that almost all of us – yes, you, yes, you – are much, much closer to being unhoused than you may assume.
“Any unpredictable natural disaster, such as the one we just saw, and is still ongoing in Texas, or wildfires in California, can literally strike at any time. If we cannot immediately house 500 people in this town, or 1000 people in this town, how would we help, if half of our city – which is getting closer to 100,000 citizens everyday – were to suddenly lose power, suddenly lose their house.
“This is a crisis that everyone here should be taking very seriously. The fact that we don’t have an emergent plan for this is quite alarming.
“I would like to also speak directly to my neighbors in the Puget Neighborhood. The comfort of some, cannot outweigh the survival of others. When the City, you know, stops removing crowd-sourced sanitation options – because, yes, the City did remove a port-a-potty that was installed, then waited a week to install their own – of course feces will be everywhere around our neighborhood.
“The solution cannot be to kick the can further away. We need immediate action and we should focus on the ways we can support folks, instead of pushing them away. Without providing an appropriate place for people to move to, we cannot ask them to move from their current location.
“I just sent all of the Council Members an email with my name and phone number in the subject line. I’m available all day tomorrow from 9:00 to 5:00. If you cannot take 60 seconds to call to let me know that you are actually listening, then I see no reason for you to hold office.”
10/8/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FOURTEEN The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The twenty-seventh public comment of the night is Heather at 01:27:35 (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=5255):
“Hello City Council persons and neighbors. Thanks for your patience for the technology. This is Heather… speaking.
“I appreciate the time to hear many public comments tonight. [There was a loud noise, after which Council President Stone apologized and asked Heather to continue] Okay, that was not on my end.
“Elisabeth, can you restart my time after the big screech. Okay, thank you.
“I wish to thank the decision of Mayor Fleetwood and the staff efforts of the City, and the City Parks Department, for creating the emergency warming center at the Depot Market during mid-February.
“I was able to volunteer multiple times and I witnessed the appreciation of many unsheltered neighbors who were welcomed to rest inside our public market center for one cold week of our winter.
“And I was witness to many housed neighbors behind the scenes, networking to fill in the gaps, bringing in newly packaged sleeping bags, blankets, hot chocolate, new hats, new gloves, even emergency new pants when there was an urgent need in the morning.
“Homelessness is a challenge that affects and concerns all of us, including those who have the privilege to rent or to own – a privilege that many of us don’t have. Homelessness is a challenge that can be solved.
“As a community, we have the land. We even have many empty parking lots and empty public buildings. And as a community, we have the motivation to create solutions to provide a safe location to simply rest – whether it’s a room, a house, a tiny home, or a winter-proofed geodesic dome tent.
“And we have the resources to create facilities to allow all our citizens access to public bathrooms and public drinking water. This challenge can be solved.
“Thank you, each, for your hard work towards creating real community solutions. I yield the rest of my time. Thank you.”
10/9/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FIFTEEN The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The twenty-eighth public comment of the night is Rosa at 02:01:03 when public comment had resumed after Council had attended to some other City business, (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=7263):
“For my comment, I would like to read the demands made by BOP Mutual Aid.
“Demand #1, amnesty – ‘drop all the charges relating to J28. Halt the 27 – 27+ ongoing investigations and targeting of protesters.
“Demand #2, ‘permanent no-barrier housing for all.
“Demand #3, ‘permanent ban on encampment sweeps and evictions.
“The reasons for these:
“’It is unjust that BPD is using their resources to endanger the lives of protesters through racist targeting of our community members. They are showing a gross display of power.
“‘All of those violently arrested on J28, were done so defending their community from illegal eviction. All charges and investigations must be dropped.
“‘BPD lied and stated that residents at camp had left willingly and that protesters stayed to cause violence. This is untrue. Protesters slowed down police forces so residents could pick up their belongings in time.
“‘BPD and COB have used the intentional verbiage of outside agitators to isolate members of our community and ignore the validity of our demands. Historically this term has been used by white supremacists and segregationists to justify their violent actions.
“For demand 2, the permanent no-barrier housing for all:
“‘The COB has the resources necessary to house every individual. The spending on police proves this. Housing is a human right.
“‘The COB continuously characterizes Camp 210 as a public safety hazard, using this as a justification to displace. If the City cared about the health of its residents they would house everyone. Housing is necessary to properly socially distance and quarantine, as well as live comfortably and safely.
“‘City officials have gaslit those who emailed, commented, and called since May 2020 with regards to the housing crisis. Houseless people know the solutions, so why don’t you – paid City officials know the solution.
“’Everybody, regardless of who they are deserves housing. Housing is a human right, therefore it cannot be conditional.Non-profits continuously deny service to those criminalized, and those with mental health problems and substance abuse problems. There needs to be an alternative that provides resources to everyone.
“Finally – ‘While it is unacceptable that the COB has evicted people in the middle of winter, during a pandemic – encampment sweeps are unjust to begin with. They simply displace our most targeted, offer no solutions and must be banned permanently.
“J28 sweep violated CDC regulations, which states, ‘do not clear encampments during community spread of C19. This can[…]increase the potential – “
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
10/9/21 PART ONE HUNDRED SIXTEEN The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The twenty-ninth public comment of the night is Cam at 02:04:31, when public comment had resumed after Council had attended to some other City business (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=7471):
“Can you hear me okay? Right, my name is Cam…[unable to distinguish] City Council [unable to distinguish] I’m a homeowner in Bellingham and my comment is specific to the homeless issue in Bellingham and the steps we can take, as a community, to address this problem.
“As I see it, there are three distinct causes of homelessness in our community: drug addiction, mental illness, and economic factors. Bellingham [unable to distinguish] to address economic factors in this jurisdiction which, if performed successfully, can reduce the aggregate resources needed for mitigating homelessness caused by drug addiction and mental illness.”
This is and excerpt from Cam’s comment. You can listen to the full public comment at this link: https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=7471
10/9/21 PART ONE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The thirtieth public comment of the night is Aida at 02:07:47, when public comment had resumed after Council had attended to some other City business (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=7667):
“Hello. Can you hear me? Okay, great. I’d like to share my screen too, if you could stop the clock. [A graphic with a white background and bold black lettering that said “SIT WITH IT”, came up on the screen]
“There’s a variety of people watching this call and I need to watch my language, but that was the only one. And I suspect that the viewers watching this call are also aware of the inherent and ongoing violence and imposed on our community by Bellingham Police Department.
“This is a reminder to all tax-paying citizens of the City of Subdued Excitement, that your money has literally been spent on waking up people with guns, forcing displacement from their homes – because yes, if you haven’t realized yet, that tents are homes for house-less individuals, they are – and to actively profile and target BIPOC and LGBTQ+ advocates to attempt to intimidate them into mobilization.
“And that includes the 27+ active investigations that are ongoing from the January 28th sweep. And I demand that all of those charges be dropped.
“To Gail and Scott who were on the call earlier, I hope you stayed on long enough to hear why there’s trash and poop and pee in your neighborhood. And next time, try addressing the root cause of that issue, instead of the symptom. And think about that while you sit in your discomfort.
“To Chris and David and to all of those homies who are working at Fred Meyer and the Kroger industry, this is an example, again for all of us, of the constant struggle of – I’ll air quote – a ‘typical citizen’ struggling with the effects of the capitalist structure that we currently reside in. This is not okay, y’all.
“And I put this up, this image – credit to Xavier Alexander Vasquez, check out his book – to sit with it. Again, to Gail and Scott, you’re having to sit with discomfort.
“To our Council Members and to all of the executives and folks that are working in City Hall, we’re there for a reason, and that’s for y’all to sit in that discomfort – to sit in that discomfort and understand why we’re here, how we got here, and to instead, you know, real about these past temporary solutions, or past, you know, ideas that haven’t solved the problem to, again – since again of, like, the time that we’ve started – I’ve started, you know, at least, like, having these conversations with y’all [unable to distinguish] to find creative solutions and to take some risks. And we’re seeing precedents all over the world, actively.
“And to Markis and Melissa, like, a genuine thank you for sacrificing your sovereignty to become a cog in the wheel of a broken system. And I honestly say that genuinely because that is the only option right now.
“But again, outreach is one thing – outreach is one thing. That does not give people a warm and safe and secure place to stay. And that’s why I stand by Housing First, the second demand.”
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
10/10/21 PART ONE HUNDRED EIGHTEEN The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The thirty-first public comment of the night is Jeremy at 02:12:33, when public comment had resumed after Council had attended to some other City business (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=7953):
“Hi. I share in a state of trauma. The same power structure – [Council President Stone asked Jeremy to state their name] Hi, I’m Jeremy B. I share in a state of trauma. The same power structure of long-standing Council Members who you will witness rearing the unofficial grand-fathered tradition of policy and process at important moments, such as recent budget decisions, have been with us through a long history of oppressing legitimate citizen testimony of horrendous human rights violations: defunding listening series – which you are all guilty of; First Nations’ treaty violations; 4 year Birchwood food desert fight; numerous jail tax cons; farmworker immigration justice, which I’ll talk about now.
“WWU’s Blue Group and C2C’s listening and professional workgroup’s-designed policy were all completely discarded. City of Bellingham re-stamped old policy with allusions to not encouraging BPD and Whatcom County Sheriff’s office to work with ICE, despite citizen evidence showing otherwise.
“We should know other agents of power abuse within our city government, for example in the case of city lawyers. The Bellingham Herald celebrated the hollow policy as a win for Bellingham as progressive, while the Latino immigration justice communities were hit hard with a lesson in oppression, despite participating by acceptable political means, and sharing the suffering in public eyes.
“This was in – within the first few seasons of Trump’s presidency, during the height of fear and uncertainty. The disappearing of our community members that we are seeing, the human-rights-violating Northwest Detention Center, during that time and since, are destroying communities, as you did January 28th.
“After over a year of civil disobedience and weekly vigils, it took two years to earn an immigration advisory board. We do not need more listening to establish if BPD is acting ethically. We do not need to have – figure out, in years, how to convince you that we need to expand the Housing First policy which gives individuals housing so they can get stable.
“Additionally the voices of homeless individuals experiencing systemic abuse by our traditional law enforcement agencies need to be heard. I mentioned the immigration crisis strategy, and strategy of government appeasing in the face of legitimate citizen disparity because the exact same form can be seen at the homeless rights occupation on City Hall lawn.
“Evident and continued false narratives by politicians, in and out of public meetings, together in private meetings, and hugely to the communication of lies that The Bellingham Herald and other media proudly regurgitates.
“I should not have to describe how our politicians and the Mayor have helped support decades of continued white supremacy violence, which we acutely witnessed, November till Februrary, with homeless individuals targeted, who have no other differences than economic and housing status.
“This violent culture is in line with Bellingham Police, as your own citizen listening series have continually established, as is seen by BPD brandishing of hate groups, and in the actions evident throughout your community, and in police behavior seen in video on January 28th.
“I will be fighting for important civilian oversight board of local law enforcement in unison with a civilian deescalation organization to keep unsafe police encounters from traumatizing more citizens. Defund police now. We have all agreed – you have all agreed to keep working on these public safety solutions. These solutions are especially needed with interactions between homeless citizens and law enforcement.
“This police culture and blatant white supremacy -“
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
10/10/21 PART ONE HUNDRED NINETEEN The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The thirty-second public comment of the night is Will at 02:16:33, when public comment had resumed after Council had attended to some other City business (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=8193) :
“Hello. My name is Will…Can you hear me? Great. I would first like to acknowledge that we are all existing on traditional Coast Salish land.
“Next, I would like to remind the residents of the Puget Neighborhood that their sanitation concerns are directly related to the City’s denial of sanitation services at that location, which is a similar problem as was experienced at the original Camp 210, which was then later used as an excuse to sweep the area.
“Moving on, I would like to stand with my brothers and sisters who are calling for the charges against the protesters to be dropped, and like all ongoing investigations into the protesters of the J28 fiasco to be halted, as well as the immediate end of the police doxing of protesters, which will invariably embolden the hateful elements in our society to take action against their perceived enemy, who are merely trying to stand up for our houseless community members.
“The citizens who blocked the police from hastening the removal of the campers at 210 on the 28th were merely acting in defense of those individuals, in support of the CDC guidelines against sweeps of camps during the ongoing COVID pandemic.
“Additionally, their presence has hastened the Council’s action to find a solution to this problem. So to punish them for that is obviously something that we should not do. If it was not needed, then you all would have acted sooner.
“That’s really all I have to say about that. I appreciate that you are all, now, working earnestly towards a solution. I would like you all to get on with Markis and Melissa. They are good people and they are going to continue working really hard and I would request that you give them the tools to do so.”
“That is all. I yield my time.”
10/10/21 PART ONE HUNDRED TWENTY The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The thirty-third public comment of the night is Alicia at 02:19:14, when public comment had resumed after Council had attended to some other City business (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=8354):
“Hi, is my screen share working for this one? Is it – does it work now? Okay, great.
“Yeah, so I just wanna – wanted to address some of the concerns that were brought up, as far as one of the snipers, and also, you know, police being antagonistic.
“So, I have a few slides. One, there was a – as far as COVID concerns were brought up, like, that’s one of the things that were mentioned, as far as, like, having a reason to sweep, and I’d like to point out that all of these very militarized police, one, they’re not wearing masks right? So that’s kinda just a really invalid thing, like, it – maybe you could just be consistent on that.
“Here’s a sniper in the City Hall window. There’s another police officer not wearing a mask correctly. There is also another police officer not wearing their mask correctly. [Council Member Lilliquist interrupted to say he sorry, but he was not seeing Alicia’s images – And those images so far during this public comment were not being displayed in the video from which this transcription was taken]
“Are you not? [Council Member Lilliquist said he was not, but maybe others were] Are – is anyone else? Let’s see. Oh, here we go! Let’s try. Ah ha! I think it should be working now. Is this working now? [Council President Stone said it was showing ’screen broadcast’ but it was spinning and that it looked like it was trying to load].
“Well, okay. It says I’m screen sharing now, so, let’s try. Alright, you guys – do you guys see those? [Council Member Stone confirmed she could see the image].
“Oh perfect. Okay, so these are the snipers that were on the roof. There – those are clearly guns that were on the roof. [weapons were circled in red in the photo being shared]. They were pointed at protesters while this was going on.
“And the rest of the things that I’d just like to point out were, like I said, the COVID concerns. None of these officers are wearing their masks properly and were interacting with protesters on a very close level – face to face.
“Oh, there’s another sniper on the roof at City Hall. There’s another officer here, clearly not wearing a mask properly. There’s another one right there. You can see, it is not even covering his nose. Oh, that’s the sniper picture again.
“And this is also just, you know, the white supremacists literally attacking people that were just trying to peacefully protest. So, there’s that.
“This is a guy that’s being punched for just literally trying to, like, deescalate the situation. Same. These people are being attacked. Also, those people aren’t wearing their masks, either. And this is them directly harassing an actual homeless person that was speaking earlier.
“There is another sniper on the roof. That’s the same guy. That’s also all of the equipment, there’s like prices for that, so there was multiple that going on.
“There’s another cop right there – no mask. Actually – oh the sanitation workers are also clearly not wearing their masks properly. There’s another one. And another one. Two more. Sanitation workers, police, not wearing masks.
“Just more heavily armed, like, Border Patrol officers for some reason. You know, just more of that. Another unmasked police officer. The chief of police, I believe [the photo was not of the Bellingham Police Chief, but the officer was not wearing their mask over their nose] clearly not wearing his mask properly.
“And that’s really it. I mean, just go over all the other concerns, as well.
“The sanitation is a direct result of the City of Bellingham refusing to give services. We were supplied, finally, with one port-a-potty -“
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
10/11/21 PART ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-ONE The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The thirty-fourth public comment of the night is Em at 02:24:10, when public comment had resumed after Council had attended to some other City business (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=8650):
“Hi, my name is Em…Can you hear me? [Council President Stone asked Em to state their full name] Em, e, m, [they stated their last name]…That’s my full name.
“I just want to begin by stating that all of your positions are illegitimate because you are reciting in your colonizing native land. So all the decisions you make are illegitimate because you are literally ruling ashes.
“Secondly, I want Lilliquist to address an email that he sent someone else and double down and have him describe what he thinks homeless people look like. In fact, I want all of you to describe to me what you think homeless people look like.
“I also don’t want to hear any of you talking about patting yourself on the back for Black and Indigenous liberation. Don’t mention, even, Black history because you have done nothing for that.
“You know, people have been speaking since May, and you have done nothing that they have said. Also, for people who just recently hired a Latinx individual to translate everything for you, your shelters for homeless people are sure looking a lot like the ICE detention centers you so claim to hate.
“It’s honestly disgusting how, Lilliquist, you, continue to gaslight entire peoples. And y’all were talking more than 3000 people telling you what to do and you’re ignoring them.
“So all of you are the pure example of white supremacy in this City. Particularly you, Lilliquist, I really don’t like you. People of color really don’t like you. [Council President Stone asked Em to address the Council as a whole] No, it’s – he mentioned it in an email, so it has to be addressed, and you guys need to be held accountable. All these procedural things you guys do to not hold yourselves accountable is quite literally disgusting.
“I want you all to talk about how you have contributed to white supremacy here in the City. None of you have done. You don’t look around you and see, wow, there’s too many white people here? Why are we making decisions for entire peoples?
“Also, housing for all and permanent no-barrier housing is literally cheaper. And it’s your job to look at the precedent and not ours. And the precedent is there, so, like, why don’t you look it up?
“You guys are paid, six digits or more. And it’s not like we don’t know what you guys are up to. Pinky Vargas and Knutson, we know you all benefitted from a – “
Comment was ended by Council before three minutes had expired.
10/11/21 PART ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-TWO The fourth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was February 22, 2021. The thirty-fifth, and final, public comment of the night is Ashley Butenschoen at 02:26:55, when public comment had resumed after Council had attended to some other City business (https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=8815):
“Hello? My name’s Ashley Butenschoen and I would just like to ask the City Council, what’s your plan as far as the homeless and those who are mentally ill, those who have addiction issues? Can you present us with what the plan is, along with the Mayor?
“What’s the plan to protect the businesses? What’s the plan to protect citizens? What’s the plan to help these people?”
This is an excerpt from Ashley’s comment. You can listen to the full public comment at this link: https://youtu.be/R0fEOpNh8LE?t=8815
10/11/21 PART ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-THREE The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link:
The first public comment of the night is Veronica at 00:55:50:
“[Council President Stone told Veronica they should be able to unmute and share their video] I didn’t have that function a second ago.
“Good evening City Council Members. I am Veronica…spouse of Christopher…, employee of Fred Meyer, Bellingham, 667, on Bakerview. I’m currently a housewife. My husband works at the Fred Meyer there.
“My background has been in the medical field, working in hospitals, including office manager, an intake coordinator, genetic counseling at Stanford University Medical Center.
“Because of my background, I knew and had an acute understanding of this insidious COVID-19 virus and its viral transmission.
“I immediately took precautions against the virus, by making masks for my husband, myself, and his co-workers before it was mandated.
“The pushback from my husband’s employer was immediate. Fred Meyer management told my husband that they didn’t want him to wear a mask because it made customers uncomfortable and created panic.
“It was clear by their attitude that we needed to take care of ourselves, because of our underlying health conditions put us at high risk of serious illness if we contracted COVID-19.
“He decided to stay home for the two month lock-down period. It wasn’t until Governor Inslee’s COVID mandates were made that my husband went back to work.
“We were hopeful that his health would be protected. Sadly we were wrong. There has been little to no compliance at Fred Meyer: no cleaning, no social distancing, no enforcement of mask-wearing by customers.
“The stress is unbearable. Not only has it led to exhausted employees, but the mental health of my husband – crying in his car, worried what would happen to his wife if he got very sick or died from COVID.
“We have exhausted our savings, his sick pay, personal days, as well as all of his vacation days for him to stay home away from his job.
“My husband has been a hard-working employee. He’s been with Fred Meyer for 13 years and this industry for 38. He should not have to choose between his life or his job. We shouldn’t have to go broke to be safe.
“All of these men and women have worked countless hours under relentless hazardous conditions because they have bills to pay and families to feed deserve better from a company who has made record profit on the backs of these brave workers.
“I’m asking you to support hazard pay – “
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
10/12/21 PART ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FOUR The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link.
The second public comment of the night is at 00:59:24:
“Hello. Okay. My name is Kai, and I’m a community member in Bellingham, living here for several years now. I am a worker. I am a student. I am a health worker. And tonight I will be speaking in support of grocery workers, Camp 210, and land acknowledgements.
“I was told in a meeting with the Mayor, Council President, that you are in charge of potentially changing the structure to enable a land acknowledgement at the beginning of the meetings, which I believe should be instituted at each of the meetings, as common as the pledge of allegiance. So, I would look forward to your response and how we can institute that.
“I also speak tonight because, please pass – I urge you – the ordinance to pay grocery workers hazard pay, the one headed by UFCW.
“And I am also asking for you to drop the charges on all the protesters that have tried to support those at Camp 210 at City Hall, all the ongoing charges. And I am asking you to please stop the sweeps, to pass the ordinance that has been brought forward to you by community members, and to keep the ball rolling on reviewing that, and also, with knowing that many organizations, at least 13, are in support of passing an ordinance like this.
“Housing is a human right. And we shouldn’t be moving people, as per CDC guidance, in a pandemic of this COVID, to – when there’s no reasonable alternative. I keep hearing the call for Base Camp. That’s what people keep hearing about. But there’s a reason why this Camp exists. There’s a reason why nine more people went to Base Camp that night that Camp 210 was swept originally.
“I think that we should keep the focus on no-barrier shelters. I believe that you’re redefining your low and medium barrier shelters to very low, but you can look as some successes of [unable to distinguish] but ultimately housing is a human right, and at the basic level you could stop sweeping.
“Additionally, I just wanted to address the FAQ that you made. You said that the police – your March 8 FAQ on the cleanup of Geri Fields that will be coming soon, that police will be in full gear.
“Does that mean the same response of snipers, Bellingham Police Department and Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department, and Border Patrol and other agencies? Will they be wearing masks this time, properly? [unable to distinguish] on buildings with snipers?
“I appreciate the need for recreation – for baseball and softball – but housing comes for a priority. There – what about the things that the Camp has done: building wheel chair-accessible ramps for restrooms, giving people jobs? Anyhow, thank you, and please consider this. And I look forward to your response. Thank you.”
10/12/21 PART ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link.
The third public comment of the night is Stefania at 01:02:46:
“Can you hear me? ‘Kay, thank you so much. My name is Stefania Heim. Thank you for allowing me to speak. I am a resident of the York neighborhood of Bellingham. I am a faculty member at Western Washington. I am a mom. I am a local citizen.
“And I am speaking today about what I think is an urgent matter for our whole community, which is hazard pay for grocery workers, who are essential workers, and are frontline workers.
“I just want to say, I know, hopefully, lots of people will echo this, but I have been shocked during the past several months, especially in my experiences at large supermarkets, like Fred Meyer’s, at the situations in the store: the incredible crowding in the aisles; the lack of masks or the ill-worn masks; workers fielding so many customers without the time to take care of their own safety or cleaning their spaces.
“This is so significant to me as a shopper, for protecting my family, that I stopped going to these stores. These workers don’t have that choice. These workers have worked through the last 12 months of the pandemic putting themselves and their families at risk, daily. This is not something they signed up for. And this is not something that they are being compensated for. Meanwhile, the large corporations that they work for are making record profits.
“So I just want to say that this is an urgent issue for the safety and dignity of the whole community. Grocery workers must receive hazard pay. And I hope that you all will make that happen. Thank you so much.”
10/12/21 PART ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-SIX The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link.
The fourth public comment of the night is Amanda at 01:04:46:
“Can you hear me? Yeah, my name is Amanda…I’m gonna skip the video. It’s late at night.
“I’m just here to stand in solidarity with my grocery worker comrades. I think, pre-pandemic – as somebody who once worked at a grocery store – the expectations of grocery store workers are already overburdening.
“So to ask them to deal with so much more complicated, and complex, and risky things during this pandemic is something that they should be heavily compensated for – especially considering most of these grocery store chains are raking in insane profits over this pandemic. I think that those profits are just unpaid wages that need to be given directly back to workers that are at risk everyday out there.
“I mean, I know, kind of like – I believe it was Veronica said earlier – a lot of my friends that work at grocery stores have horror stories of crying in their cars between shifts and having to go home and fearing being at risk of something as terrifying as a pandemic – you know, something that spreads with aerosol, and people pull down their mask to talk on the phone; pull down their mask to cough; pull down their mask to sneeze; pull down their mask to do whatever – fight you about wearing a mask.
“The job description for a grocery store worker doesn’t need to entail being a mask policeman. It’s too much to ask of our grocery store workers. So, I just ask that you pass this ordinance. Yeah.”
10/13/21 PART ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-SEVEN The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The fifth public comment of the night is Harry at 01:06:52:
“Harry…On the one hundred and eleventh anniversary of the Socialist Party of America’s, International Working Women’s Day, I ask the City Council to drop all charges relating to the January 28th defense of our homeless neighbors, and stop all 27 politically motivated investigations.
“City Council’s $100,000 sweep violated federal law and the CDC requirements to let homeless people shelter in place.
“Two, permanent no-barrier housing for all.
“Three, permanent ban on all encampment sweeps. City Council must call off its rabid police force. Services like water, waste management, electricity, and storage lockers – not costly sweeps in service of gentrification profits for a few real estate speculators and career politicians funded by real estate portfolios.
“I agree with the previous speakers that flat taxes are regressive and should almost always be opposed. However, as previous speakers expressed, capitalism’s gentrification crisis has put three thousand five hundred of our neighbors in tents. So I support this flat tax only as an emergency survival measure.
“The deadly pandemic that capitalist profit-seeking has spread to millions, and killed 500,000 of our fellow workers, is still spreading out of control. Bellingham City Council must also pass hazard pay for Bellingham grocery workers. Grocery workers are frontline, essential workers who have risked their lives in this global pandemic.
“Corporate grocers can afford to pay hazard pay. Profits of companies like Fred Meyer, Safeway, and Haggen have skyrocketed because of the pandemic – because more people cook at home. Companies are using these additional profits to buy back stock and compensate CEOs, not to pay grocery workers more.”
10/13/21 PART ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The sixth public comment of the night is at 01:09:13:
“Hello, can you hear me? Alright, my name is [bleeped], and I want you guys to drop all charges, and drop all the pending investigations on the protesters from January 28th.
“I also want you guys to support full-barr – low-barrier housing and housing for all immediately. It’s kind of ridiculous that you guys are asking to put this tax, when you guys did just, like, give the police department more money. So, like, that’s really crazy.
“And also, the money that you used for the sweep, could have provided a lot of resources. But instead, you guys spent that money, and you’re going to do it again, without letting the residents of the camp know. That’s really [bleeped] awesome that you guys did that.
“Also the idea that we can’t [Council Present Stone called for no profanity] – That’s cool. The idea that we can’t call out City Council Members – like, if you guys make us mad, you guys can’t expect us to sit there and be quiet. So that’s really funny too.
“But, yeah, you guys really need to do something because it’s not enough, and we’re not going to go away until you guys figure this [bleeped] out. Bye.”
Words in this comment were edited out (noted as bleeped) by the City.
10/13/21 PART ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-NINE The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The seventh public comment of the night is Michele at 01:49:30, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed :
“Thank you. Hi, this is Michele…I am a resident of Bellingham, Washington. I live off of State St. and I’m here to talk about hazard pay for grocery workers, and I’m in support of the ordinance that has been proposed, that is being researched.
“I believe that grocery workers have done a huge job in going – continuing to go to work under really straining and stressful conditions that have placed their families at risk.
“In that this is something that other stores are doing in our community as well as around the state of Washington, I think this is not a huge thing that we could do, but we need to support our grocery workers. They stepped up. They went to work and they made sure that we had food at our tables.
“So I just wanted to thank all the grocery workers who’ve done that. We know that some of the grocery stores have made huge profits, and even some of the small stores have made 69% above what they made last year. So – and some have made as much as 270% more.
“So these are things that they can afford to be able to give their workers some of the profits that they have gained during this pandemic, and reward them for being good employees that came to work under very difficult conditions.
“And also looking at that, that we need to ask stores to step up, especially some of the Fred Meyer stores, in the way they clean, and protect their employees. These are things that are very important.
“I want to thank you for this time, being able to speak, and I hope that you all consider to support hazard pay. And I also forgot to say that I’m the president of the Washington Central Labor Council and I’m also representing for the office in support of the hazard pay ordinance. Thank you.”
10/14/21 PART ONE HUNDRED THIRTY The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The eighth public comment of the night is Yoshi at 01:51:42, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Thank you. Can you all hear me? Hi my name is Doug…My nickname is Yoshi. Thank you, members of the audience and staff, Members of the City Council, and Mr. Mayor, for your attention.
“What concerns me is the political climate that we’re in now. I’ve heard – I think it’s wonderful that you state no personal attacks. I wish that this was something we could say to everybody, please, no personal attacks. And it happens on both the left and the right – the demonizing of the other side that – I’ve heard it on both sides, that the right demonizes the left and the left demonizes the right. And it’s a terribly uncomfortable situation.”
This is an excerpt from Yoshi’s comment. You can listen to the full public comment at the )1:51:41 mark of the video at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
10/14/21 PART ONE HUNDRED THIRTY ONE The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The ninth public comment of the night is Sage at 01:55:01, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hi, good evening Council. My name is Sage…and I’m here to speak in favor of hazard pay for our grocery store workers in addition to the [unable to distinguish] which I did not comment on earlier.
“First of all I have critical support for the housing ordinance. We’re in the middle of a crisis, and although I do support a yes vote on this ordinance, I also encourage all Council Members who vote yes on this ordinance to pressure our state representatives to legislate for a progressive income tax during the next session.
“The issue of taxation for social programs is not one that will go away without bold state action. Please use your position of power to pressure your fellow legislators.
“And on the hazard pay issue, a year into this pandemic, this is not a job that most grocery workers signed up for knowingly.
“Yet in times of unprecedented unemployment, many workers are left with no option but to take on inappropriate risk for meager wages they are being paid.
“I’ve seen grocery store workers verbally harassed for asking customers to wear their masks and consistently exposed to COVID at high rates.
“It feels like grocery store workers are being asked to – as a previous commenter said – act as, you know, police – the mask-police, to act as almost behavioral health workers, to, you know, act as people’s therapists as they go through the line in a horrible pandemic that we’re all dealing with together and, like, they’re really the, like, face of this pandemic. They’re some of the only people I see in person on a week to week basis. And they just look so drained.
“And I just want to do what we can to support them by increasing their wages because, you know, grocery stores have increased the price of food over the course of the pandemic. And they’re seeing record profits, as people are cooking at home more and just spending more time in their homes, but grocery store workers are suffering, while, you know, the rich get richer. So I really support the hazard pay initiative and hope that you all will vote for it. Thank you. Good night.”
10/14/21 PART ONE HUNDRED THIRTY TWO The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The tenth public comment of the night is Cami at 01:58:15, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Can you hear me? Okay, my name is Cami…I am demanding that you defund the Bellingham Police Department and use those funds to house our houseless neighbors without barriers or conditions.
“Currently, all housing options in Bellingham have at least some conditions to provide housing, which means there are still people being excluded from the City’s supposed Housing First model. There needs to be a variety of shelter options due to how varied the needs are for each individual living without secured shelter.
“This winter the community had to step up to provide folks with shelter when the City should have been providing motel rooms for them to keep them out of the cold. And really the City should have been providing long-term housing in the first place, but that’s capitalism for you.
“What gets me about the housing issue here is that the City of Bellingham is putting so much money into the police budget – essentially paying the police to criminalize community members – and then once you do have a mark on your criminal record, for whatever reason, it makes it harder, especially for low-income folks, to secure housing and jobs, making it more likely that they will become houseless, leading to more criminalization because cops harass folks for merely existing without shelter.
“Not to mention the Bellingham Police Department is actively targeting protesters for the – from the militarized sweep on January 28th.
“And I demand the City provide amnesty to these folks who were holding of militarized cops, Border Patrol, and the SWAT team from forcibly evicting folks from their shelters during a pandemic, in the middle of winter.
“The resources the City is using to sweep and jail and harass houseless folks could be used for resources that would actually holistically improve people’s lives or at the very least treat them like the human beings that they are.
“Putting more money into the Bellingham Police Department’s GRACE program, as is heard said – spoken in meetings before – or in public comment before – is not the answer. And I know that many folks living without shelter do not trust the police because the police are the ones who actively harass and steal from them on the daily.
“So, if you’re worried about public health, you’d have had the health department providing COVID tests and Narcan down at camp the entire time and you wouldn’t have withheld port-a-potty services, and you’d open the bathrooms at Civic for them, so that they could have sinks and proper bathrooms to use.
“And there are fires at camp because people need portable heaters and campfires to stay warm because they’re living outside, which I just feel like there’s a lack of understanding of what you have to do to survive outside in the cold.
“So I am happy that there is some talk about affordable housing and behavioral health services. But you don’t need to increase taxes and put the burden on individual spenders to provide funding for services, when you can defund the Bellingham Police Department and use some of their inflated budget to fund these things.
“And I agree that we need to attack these issues in a systemic way, and you can start by doing that by defunding the police and put that money toward services that are not hierarchical programs because we’ve seen that non-profits provide conditional services which is not an effective to help people.”
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
10/15/21 PART ONE HUNDRED THIRTY THREE The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The eleventh public comment of the night is Mary at 02:01:36, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hello? Okay. Hello, my name is Mary…and I live here in Bellingham. I’ve lived here for thirty-one years and I would like to reiterate about the gentleman who talked about the personal attacks and people having respect.
“I thought that was a very good point and I believe that cussing at chamber meetings is – should not be stood for at all, and they should be removed from speaking if they can’t respect the rules.”
This is an excerpt from Mary’s comment. You can listen to the real public comment at the 02:01:36 mark of the video at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
10/15/21 PART ONE HUNDRED THIRTY FOUR📌✏️✏️ The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The twelfth public comment of the night is Misty at 02:04:55, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed
“Many of us who carry lawful medical mask exemptions are being discriminated against because businesses are not informed of the law.
“And people like myself do not necessarily have bank accounts and online access to order food online. I have been completely ostracized from the Bellingham community and it’s appalling.”
This is an excerpt from Misty’s comment. You can listen to the full public comment at the 02:04:55 mark of the video at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
10/15/21 PART ONE HUNDRED THIRTY FIVE The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The thirteenth public comment of the night is Hannah at 02:08:35, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hi, can you hear me? My name is Hannah…and I’m here to speak in favor of the hazard pay ordinance here in Bellingham.
“Every time I’ve been to a grocery store, particularly the large chain-owned grocery stores, it’s just been a mess, right?
“Like, workers are in there for hours, inside. And, you know, people clump up near registers. People take their masks off and do all kinds of things.
“I’ve seen it’s been very difficult for people to continue wearing masks. And the – most people’s ability to not work during a pandemic is minimal, at best.
“Grocery store workers have taken on a huge amount of risk that we’ve all benefited from over the past year, and continue to be paid just absolutely poverty wages, which is just disgusting.
“Meanwhile grocery store corporations have made enormous profits, none of which is kept here in Bellingham. The Kroger Corporation has literally doubled its profits – profits, not income – over the last year. And that’s going into, you know, share buy-backs, CEO compensation, none of which is helping our community, and all of which is on the backs of workers.
“So I really encourage you to not just – like, take a leap, and actually pass a hazard pay ordinance. Other cities have done it. I think it’s the right thing to take care of – take care of our community. That’s it.”
10/16/21 PART ONE HUNDRED THIRTY SIX The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The fourteenth public comment of the night is Seth at 02:10:49, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hi, can you hear me? Alright. Good evening Council. My name is Seth…I am speaking tonight in support of the hazard pay ordinance that has been discussed with Council Members recently.
“While I left for other reasons early last year, before the COVID-19 hit, I worked within the grocery industry for nearly a decade. I know how hard working in customer service is when there isn’t a pandemic, and in discussions with my former co-workers and friends still in the industry, it’s only gotten worse.
“This has led to many people leaving the industry because of the stress and lack of safety. Former co-workers of mine who have left have been coughed on at the register.
“So this truly is a hazardous time and a hazardous job to be in right now. And obviously, I agree with all the rationale in passing it when it comes to the dignity of these workers expressed by other speakers.
“These large national chains have been making record profits during this pandemic, and passing this ordinance would work to keep more of that money within our local economy through the wages that are earned by these workers and then will be spent, and the taxes collected on that.
“And so I’m also glad to hear that, you know, solutions to houseless-ness have been discussed this evening. Workers being paid what they’re owed is absolutely part of that. So thank you for your time.”
10/16/21 PART ONE HUNDRED THIRTY SEVEN The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The fifteenth public comment of the night is Clara at 02:12:37, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Can you hear me? Okay. Hello, my name is Clara…and I’m a resident of Bellingham, and a Western student.
“I want to speak to you tonight about our unhoused neighbors and your ongoing persecution of them and those who stand with them. I say the following as an individual with only the intention of speaking for myself and about my experiences.
“As you continue to dehumanize and terrorize our unhoused neighbors, your community has been stepping up. They have been providing meals, clothing, and survival support for the most vulnerable members of this town.
“Your collective refusal to provide resources, to provide support of any kind, or to even stop terrorizing folks long enough for them to breathe, has demonstrated your immoral and inhuman tendencies.
“Your actions are violent and uphold systems of oppression and white supremacy. I hear you and other members of the community complain about the conditions at Geri Field. And I would like to note, as you must be aware, said conditions are a result of basic survival needs not being met.
“These are systems of an exploitative and violent system that you are presently enforcing. And they will not go away until people’s needs are actually met. They will not go away with another sweep. They will only intensify, and you will be responsible for the harm that follows.
“I am disgusted by your announcement of another sweep. I am disgusted that you place others’ access to recreation over the survival of our neighbors. I am disgusted by the complete lack of compassion you display.
“Where will they go?
“I am asking you to reduce the immense harm you are causing and seek out actual solutions by dropping all charges related to January 28th, ending your racist targeting and harassment of our community members, diverting funds from the bloated police budget to fund permanent no-barrier housing for all, and to permanently ban the violent and destructive encampment sweeps and evictions.
“You are literally being asked to show a crumb of empathy to your community. Please step the fuck up. I yield my time.”
10/16/21 PART ONE HUNDRED THIRTY EIGHT The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The sixteenth public comment of the night is at 02:15:20, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“This is Tess, speaking, is it my time? Okay. My name’s Tessa…I am here, firstly, I want to express solidarity with the grocery store frontline workers and their call to be compensated for hazard pay.
“Being compensated for the community aid they provide is long overdue. And it absolutely astounds me that Kroger would more quickly scold an employee for asking a patron to not cough on the produce than they would ask the patron to help keep the community safe.
“It’s scary how Kroger closed all Fred Meyer locations in the district of Seattle that enforce hazard pay. The City has a responsibility to intervene.
“And I also want to use my time to expressing my serious concern for the City’s attitude and threats towards our unhoused neighbors. Allocating funding for affordable housing sounds great, but sometimes it’s – there – it becomes almost laughable when you look at the Bellingham Police Department’s budget or even the salaries of members on City Council.
“We’re also still talking about high-barrier housing. A response that’s been echoed among many members here is that no-barrier housing for all is too big, or that won’t work here. But let’s talk about structural changes.
“I assume you are all well-aware that structural changes are not possible if the foundation of basic needs is not met – basic needs being food, water, warmth, rest, safety, security.
“I heard Council Member Lilliquist specify those who are eligible to access the funding and who is not. What do you think happens to those that fall through the cracks? You, the City, are not providing any of these basic needs to the unhoused people in your community that don’t fit within these qualifications.
Rather, you’re quite literally sweeping away any grassroot work this collective is able to do to get campers housing, clothing, and food, causing those doing real work to live on eggshells as they anticipate your next attack.
“Our neighbors have offered solutions and asked for your engagement, and your violent response is heard loud and clear. The $53,000 spent on personnel on January 28th could have paid for over 1000 hotel stays, or could have bought people warm beds, or could have been dedicated to permanent no-barrier housing.
“Your community is tired of hearing there isn’t any money. Of course structural change is beyond possible to you. The actions you are taking right now actively oppose the possibility for positive structural change. I yield my time.”
10/17/21 PART ONE HUNDRED THIRTY NINE The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The seventeenth public comment of the night is Heather at 02:18:00, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hi. Heather…speaking. [unable to distinguish] City Council persons and neighbors. I also support the Council including future Salish land acknowledgements at the beginning of City Council meetings.
“And I wish to share I’m thankful we made it through our coldest winter months. The growing season has begun, with some of us already planting seeds in our garden.
“When I listened today to the Council committee where plan and dates for cleaning, repairing, our Geri Field ball fields and park lands was shared by our mayor.
“In considering the needs of all of our community members, I’m suggesting that our City increase accessibility to our potable drinking water, and increase accessibility to our public restrooms, and hand washing sinks to maintain the health of both humans, and our lands and waters.
“I would also like to suggest that in this era of increased internet communications for all our daily and public businesses, that we create public access to our internet communications, especially as our library has been closed for many seasons.
“In regards to any plans for assisting citizens living and resting at lower Geri Fields, I have not heard of any realistic plan for how [unable to distinguish] staff plans to directly to directly inform our unsheltered neighbors of how they can actually access homeless services being offered – services that might assist them with basics, such as finding drinking water or an outdoor soup kitchen; for obtaining an ID; for applying for housing lists; for applying for social security for those who cope with severe physical and mental disabilities.
“The unsheltered neighbors I have spoken to, have shared their case managers have not come to speak with them, even after I support them with my own phone, calling their case manager and informing them of their client’s current tent locations and the client’s request to be seen
“I’m thankfully aware of volunteer independent citizens who have been using their own computers and using their neighbor’s outdoor awning to assist a few homeless neighbors applying for I.D., and with scheduling medical appointments. These volunteers are doing the tasks of what our tax paid social service agency staff are paid to do.
“However, since the pandemic, many are not willing to meet their clients in person. They use a computer inside their home or office – and their clients do not have computers, cell phones, or homes with Wi-Fi.
“There is a huge gap in communicating and caring for our unsheltered citizens as we navigate these pandemic challenges as a community. I’m encouraged to hear at Council meeting tonight Council person Hammill’s mention of a future 911 call program that would -“
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
10/17/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FORTY The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The eighteenth public comment of the night is Emma at 02:21:30, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hi, can you hear me? Great. Good evening, City Council Members. My name is Emma Goldman. [there was feedback that was distorting sound] My name is Emma Goldman. And good evening, City Council Members. I’ve been a resident of Bellingham for the last several years and I’d like to start by [unable to distinguish] hazard pay, and safer working conditions.
“I also want to start by responding to the comment surrounding personal attacks and “offensive” comments being made, by encouraging you all to reflect on why community members are being silenced and discouraged from voicing their opposition to government inaction and institutional failures, while other folks are allowed to make open dog whistles, minimize the holocaust, and spew Q-Anon conspiracies. Why is that not considered inappropriate for public discourse, to expose our children to, that you seem to be so concerned about?
“And also, because Mayor Fleetwood refused to actually disclose the decision that he’s made, I want to voice my strong opposition to his decision to forcibly remove people from Camp 210 that is now located at lower Geri Fields.
“Today he announced that there will be one week until Public Works crews will begin moving tents and belongings on Tuesday, March 16th and anyone remaining at the site will be forced to leave.
“What he failed to disclose was where people are supposed to go. There are fewer sheltering options than there were a month ago, yet we have the same number of people, if not more, who are – more and more people are becoming unsheltered everyday. So I don’t understand why the crisis is only worsening and the criminalization is only intensifying.
“I understand that solutions are in the pipeline and I’m all for the different housing programs that folks are working on. And earlier I heard an acknowledgement that good work is being done, it’s just not being done at the scale it needs to be. And I want to reiterate that it is not good work, if it is not for everyone. We need housing for everyone.
“No-barrier shelter is not a radical idea, it is a human right. None of our neighbors should have to be living unsheltered. We are losing people and their blood is on your hands. It is not the responsibility of community members to be taking care of each other. That is what we are going to do, and the bare minimum is to not criminalize us for doing so.
“Please drop all the charges. We shouldn’t have to say please. Drop the charges. [Bleeped] I yield my time.”
Words in this comment were edited out (noted as bleeped) by the City.
10/17/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FORTY-ONE The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The nineteenth public comment of the night is Sam at 02:24:50, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hello. Can you guys hear me? Cool. My name is Sam…Yeah, I just wanted to speak in support of the hazard pay ordinance tonight.
“Just wanted to speak a little bit from personal experience. Last year I was working at Haggen’s and we were about, like, a few weeks into the lock – the stay-at-home order, and I went into work with a cloth mask on. And I knew about what the CDC had said with, you know – trying to keep N-95s on the shelves and everything. And so, I was aware of all that.
“And I went into work with my cloth mask on, and they – when I got there, they told me to take – just like somebody had spoke on earlier – they told me to take it off because they didn’t want, you know, customers to feel uncomfortable with my cloth mask on.
“And I was – I asked the manager – I was, like, even, you know, if it’s safer for customers? And he was, “you have to take it off.”
“So, you know, I had the privilege, because of, like, familial wealth, that I was able to quit and, like, stay at home for awhile before I could, like, get another job in a few months.
“But I had a ton of co-workers who were, like, in their 60s and 70s, had underlying conditions, and who couldn’t quit their jobs, took all their vacation days. And it was very much – like, we saw everything comin’ off the shelves. We saw, like, the profits coming in.
“And I was in the deli department specifically – because, you know, the deli wasn’t making much money at that point. They actually started cutting hours in the deli. And, you know, arguably the deli was even more hazardous than working in the regular grocery area.
“So I just wanted to say on that point, I can really assume that Haggen’s is going to be able to compensate, and like, keep these conditions safe for these workers, and, like, take care of the workers like they need to.
“I really think there’s a point where governments need to step in and make sure they’re being compensated for the really hazardous conditions that they’re working in.
“And, you know, the UK variant, is, like – I just saw a Herald article a few weeks ago that just came in, so I don’t think we can really say that we can – conditions aren’t hazardous anymore. Like, cases are still up a bunch here.
“So I just want to speak on behalf of the workers that are still working there, who really deserve this money right now.
“And then also, in terms of the emergency tax, I just wanted to speak in support of that. I really echo what speakers were saying earlier. I don’t really think we should be doing regressive taxing, you know, overall. But in an emergency like this, with the homelessness issue, I think you should pass that, as well. So in support those two things.
“Yeah, thanks so much for lettin’ me speak on this.”
10/18/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FORTY-TWO The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The twentieth public comment of the night is Doug at 02:28:25, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Okay. Okay, can you guys hear me? Okay. I’m not sure why I can’t do video, but – hey, this is Doug, chairman of HomesNOW Not Later. HomesNOW operates Unity Village and Swift Haven. The first two tiny home communities in Bellingham with the goal to end homelessness, one person at a time.
“Both villages continue to run smoothly and safely. Swift Haven was able to get online in only weeks because the County, City, and HomesNOW worked together, where appropriate, to achieve a concrete and achievable goal in a very short period of time. It can be done again if it’s important to the City and County to move quickly to house more people.
“As has been mentioned recently by the City, a new village will be set up by the Low Income Housing Institute/LIHI and Road2Home, called Gardenview village. The village managed by LIHI and Road2Home is estimated to cost anywhere from $500,000 to $1,000,000 a year to operate. The main reason for this cost involves 24/7 paid staff to act as case managers and individual – for individual residents.
“Planning Director Rick Sepler also mentioned, from the City perspective, earlier today that – in a previous meeting – that it would cost around 200- that it did cost around $200,000 to set up Swift Haven, our second tiny home village.
“We are not sure where he’s getting that figure. He seems to be counting the costs of the Public Works employees to set up the infrastructure on the site, but these workers would have been paid either way, whether they were doing this or that. And so that figure seems inflated.
“Also, the structures were paid for by the County for emergency COVID dollars. I contrast the two tiny home villages by HomesNOW are around $18,000 a year to operate for Unity Village, and zero for Swift Haven in terms of operation costs because it’s resident managed, resident run – in other words, the people who live at the village are the people who manage and run the village.
“HomesNOW has around a 45% rehousing rate at this time, and rising. This is in the absence of having any paid staff and zero needed for paid staff. This number includes around 70 people who have come through our program since it was set up with our first tent encampment in early 2019. That rate is higher, if counting the time where we have only been operating as a tiny home village.
“A majority of residents at both villages were previously camping or living in their vehicles, as opposed to staying at the shelters. Campers seem to be more independent, in general, and our model allows for them to keep their autonomy and work together with other residents to improve everybody’s situation together, while reducing the number of tents seen around town, as a result.
“Our ability to scale up is only limited by having available land to set up on. The residents from previous villages want to help manage a new site. According to our permits, residents can only become managers after they’ve been living with us for 6 months or more.
“I have a lot more to say, but I’m running out of time. If you want us to do more and faster, identify some sites, make them available, and let’s get started. We can get running swift-“
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
10/18/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FORTY-THREE The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The twenty-first public comment of the night is Markis at 02:31:55, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hello. Can you hear me okay? My name is Markis…I am the Homeless Advocate, the County appointed position, on the Homeless Strategies Workgroup. That’s an advisory position. And I often find myself feeling like I’m talking to the wind in my advisory role.
“But, nonetheless, I have boots-on-the-ground experience at Camp 210, in negations with the Mayor and the Planning Department, and I not only take on that role very seriously as advocate for the homeless individuals in Whatcom County, but I’ve also assumed the role as part of the leadership of a new non-profit in town, Serenity Outreach Services, S.O.S. Bellingham. Our goals are to identify the cracks and try to fill them, and try to help people out of the spots where the ruts occur.
“Now that I’ve kind of explained who I am and what that’s about, I just wanted to say I support the Kroger – the people who are talking about working at Fred Meyer and the need for hazard pay. And specifically I want to talk about the fact that people are making dirt wages out there.
“So I’m not going to say any other names of groups, but it is important that we recognize that there are people who put on a company, corporate shirt every morning, over dirty clothes, who’ve been sleeping in their cars, who’ve been sleeping in the woods. These are the employees that actually serve us in Bellingham. I could name several different stores where this happens. I know these people.
“So, when I’m talking about Kroger support, I’m talking about that too. And when we’re talking about that, we need to speak more holistically, as well. We need to speak about the regressive tax. Why is there a regressive tax? Because you’ve got people who are paying taxes who get zero services, okay?
“So we – I understand that we definitely need to bolster more housing. But it’s also very important that we have to immediately help the people who are foundering and failing in our woods.
“The sweeps are very expensive. The whole program is very expensive and it’s much, much more expensive than just the police. It’s expensive for our whole city. It’s expensive on our citizenry. It’s expensive on our souls.
“We need to be embracing programs. I know that during negotiations with the City, representing those who are called the Collective from Camp 210 – I can tell you that I learned a lot there. The one thing that did happen is we had some really good negotiations, some going back and forth. And S.O.S. Bellingham wants to pick those negotiations up, right where we dropped them.
“I – we have sent contact out to the City, and contact to Seth Fleetwood and to the Planning Department to let them know: we’re here – we want to pick up these negotiations. We do not want to see another sweep. We’re right here and we want to help and we have a plan.
“In fact, I think I’m the only person who’s submitted a plan yet, on the record, on how to deal with this. Please work with me. Please work with my group, S.O.S. is going to help you.”
10/18/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FORTY-FOUR The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The twenty-second public comment of the night is Natalie at 02:35:30, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Can you hear me? I’m not very tech-y, so I’m not going to put the video on. Okay, it just said the co-host has asked you to start your video. [the Council President indicated this was just a prompt if they wanted to use it] Oh, got it, got it. Okay.
“Sorry, hi, my name is Natalie…and I’ve lived in Bellingham for approximately 16 years. I want to speak tonight regarding SARS…[unable to distinguish] 2 the COVID-19 novel Coronavirus.”
First off, on the FDA.gov website, on a downloadable document, number 134922, page 39, lines 3 through 7 it states: “Since no quantified virus isolates…”
This is an excerpt from Natalie’s comment. You can listen to the full public comment at the 02:35:30 mark on the video at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
10/20/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The twenty-third public comment of the night is Melissa at 02:39:40, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hello, City Council. My name’s Melissa…I’m the executive director of S.O.S., Serenity Outreach Services Bellingham.
We have formed to provide outreach services, shelter, and more, in the areas identified as sorely lacking or missing in the town.
“We’ve started a meal program where we provide outreach meals to people in the streets by partnering with local restaurants and gracious donors. We’re in the process of starting a locker program, graciously passed to us by the founders. And we have more in the works.
“We’re very aware there needs to be a solution to the Geri Fields situation, but sweeping will not – sweeping will only displace them to another neighborhood. S.O.S. is the only non-profit willing to go into the encampment. These have become our clients.
“As we are trying to get the City to resume talks for a low-barrier shelter so these campers can have a place to go, we’ve also been registering campers with our non-profit since we found – since we formed, out of fear that the cold weather warming station would not be opened. Thankfully, at the last minute, they opened the Depot, and we were down there registering people, as of then.
“We are the only ones willing to collect the data on the needs, and why they cannot or will not enter Base Camp. You must resume talks with us immediately and the [unable to distinguish] the sweeps so we can obtain information and start getting a sheltering solution.
“LIHI has not stated who they will accept, but regardless, there will be people left who still need shelter and services. And we are asking for you to hold up your end of the gentleman’s agreement we have, where you stated as soon as we become operators you would work with us. We’re here. We’re waiting.”
10/20/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FORTY-SIX The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The twenty-fourth public comment of the night is Skyler at 02:41:36, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hi, can you hear me? My name is Skyler… I live on Nooksack and Lummi indigenous land in so called Bellingham, Washington.
“I’m here in support of Camp 210. First off, I am demanding amnesty for all arrested at the sweep on January 28th along with ending currently active investigations. January 28th was absolutely unacceptable. It was dehumanizing and violent.
“As a young passionate college student, I was at the sweep to peacefully protect my unhoused neighbors – emphasis on peacefully – the police presence was 100% unnecessary. And I believe you all know that. I personally was victim to police brutality at the sweep and now have a serious health condition, due to this.
“Rather than using the City’s money on excessive police force, we must redistribute these funds, provide housing for all individuals, regardless of mental health, or addiction status.
“Through speaking with individuals at Camp 210, I was able to hear some personal stories. I found that I’ve experienced many of the exact same issues, including struggling with addiction myself, mental health issues, being laid off, and simply not being mentally ready to attend college classes. These are all things that I heard directly from people at Camp 210.
“The difference is that I have privilege and resources. Without this, I would be unhoused. Without your privilege and resources, you could be in the same position as the folks at Camp 210 that you are actively dehumanizing.
“Providing these resources to everyone is absolutely essential, in the short and long term. The proposed 3 days of access to services on March 10th through 12th is not nearly enough. We all know this.
“Base Camp is not enough. Many individuals feel unsafe and unsupported, along with many being turned away. Some are refused shelter, due to addiction issues, without being offered any sort of help.
“We must support those currently unhoused, along with preventing our community’s unhoused population from growing. I know that you all, but this is in the best interest of you all.
“Through providing adequate resources with the funds that City of Bellingham already has, this is more than possible. While I am in support of the proposed ordinance, this is the absolute bare minimum.
“Finally, we must permanently ban all sweeps. I would like to remind you that the CDC has advised against sweeps. This is a direct quote from the CDC website: “Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”
“The upcoming sweep of Camp 210 will do nothing but harm, criminalizing and displacing our neighbors with nowhere to go is simply heartless and unsafe. We need housing for all. We need amnesty for those arrested on January 28th. We need to ban sweeps. And ultimately, we just need compassion. Ok we need [bleeped]”
Words in this comment were edited out (noted as bleeped) by the City.
The comment was ended by Council.
10/20/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FORTY-SEVEN The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The twenty-fifth public comment of the night is at 02:44:42, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hi, can you hear me? My name is Iremice…Am I on time? Okay, thank you. You are all upholders of white supremacy and you should all take this personally because it applies to each one of you.
“You doubled down on a sweep. So, therefore you are the aggressors. The policing of language stems from white supremacy. Your guidelines are white supremacy. And your violations are racist.
“To no one’s surprise, the Council is personally complicit in racism and you sit there time after time and pass off your white supremacy as gracious community leadership. You are racists and it’s on public record.
“Nobody wants to hear you laughing as you continue to oppress people of color. You are all white people making decisions on things you have no business and moral grounding to make decisions on.
“You create these problems, perpetuate them, and think your solutions will help. Silencing us and controlling our language is the new Jim Crow.
“You pat yourselves on the back about nothing, while our homeless – while your homeless shelters still look like ICE facilities and prisons. You lack education and have no business determining what is or isn’t policy, because you are all upholders of white supremacy.
“You criminalize people of color. You criminalize the houseless. And you do so while pretending to cleanse your city. Don’t point this as engagement, when you address absolutely nothing.
“Where are the pictures of the snipers you pulled on people on your website? Or did you whitewash that too? You use language that equates the poor to vermin? And your lack of transparency will sink you to the ground.
“You gaslight thousands of people, and send your cops to wrongfully and illegally intimidate random people and anyone who wants nothing to do with your white savior-ism and are building community without you.
“You whitewash yourselves and pretend your violence is non-existent, when you dropped millions on snipers, vehicles, patrol guns and ammo to be violent.
“From your police to your non-profits, to the people in this meeting, you harbor white supremacists. You lead no one and you have no real power.
“Things will get done without you and your cops will not stop them. Until you stop putting a price on freedom and equality, you will continue to pay the price everyday for your injustices.
“You have done absolutely nothing for liberation and equity. You will not sit there and authorize or approve our existence, when it is you who created the conditions for people to end up houseless in the first place. And it is you who criminalizes it.
“You are the public safety hazard. Do not, like – do not police our language, when you have blood on your hands. Who cares about curse words if you have literal blood on your hands?
“You sweep Geri Field? You are doing so against federal law and you will have the ACLU on your hands. People will move elsewhere and you will not stop them.
“We will never bow to you or your empire built of corpses. [bleeped] you.”
The comment was ended by council. Words in this comment were edited out (noted as bleeped) by the City.
10/21/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FORTY-EIGHT The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The twenty-sixth public comment of the night is Ellie at 02:48:55, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hi, can you hear me? Okay. My name is Ellie…First of all, why are we tone-policing public comment? The actions of the City are violent, and that warrants anger. So let’s sit and think about the ‘violence’ of insults over Zoom call versus the violence of homelessness.
“It’s racist to filter out the angriest voices because the angriest voices come from the people who have experienced the most violence.
“Second, I want to amplify the demands of Camp 210. Number 1, grant amnesty to all protesters from the January 28th sweep. Drop all charges and halt all investigations. “BPD targeting BIPOC femmes on their Facebook account is so violent. They fully-well know that their Facebook post will be used by other white supremacist groups and that it will incite vigilante violence.
“2, permanent no-barrier housing for all. Housing is a human right.
“3, permanent ban on sweeps and evictions. How much money are you planning to spend on this sweep that could be spent instead on housing, or healthcare or reparations for slavery?
“I would say I can’t believe that you all have decided to sweep camp again, but this is capitalism, so the state literally only exists to protect the power of the ruling class.
“And you are all white supremacist scum, so it checks out. Okay, thank you.”
10/21/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FORTY-NINE The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The twenty-seventh public comment of the night is Betsy at 02:50:55, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Okay. Good evening – good evening, Council Members and Mayor Fleetwood. My name is Betsy…I’m a resident of Bellingham and I’m here this evening to speak in support of hazard pay for grocery workers.
“As you consider addressing homelessness in our community, please think about hazard pay as another tool in your toolkit to prevent homelessness.
“Hazard pay helps prevent homelessness, supporting living wages for workers, so they are not priced out of the housing market.
“Union grocery workers have good benefits but they are not lavishly compensated for their work. A starting grocery worker earns 10 cents above minimum wage. Over several years at their trade, workers wages increase and many workers in our area earn 16 to 18 dollars an hour.
“But workers often do not work 40 hour weeks. During the pandemic, grocers have cut back full-time workers to 35 hours per week. And part-time workers have also seen their hours pared away.
“Consider this: a worker earning 17 dollars per hour, working 35 hours per week and renting a one bedroom apartment for 1400 dollars per month is spending 54% of her earnings on rent, a figure far above the 30% that housing advocates recommend.
“If her hours are cut, if she or a family contracts COVID or if she needs to stay under quarantine, she is at risk of becoming homeless. Hazard pay could make the difference in keeping this worker housed.
“The profits of grocers have sky-rocketed because of the COVID pandemic, but the profits have not gone into the pockets of the workers. They were used for stock buy-backs to benefit shareholders.
“The pandemic has exacerbated an already deep inequality in this country. Hazard pay is a small down payment to the workers to address the risks they face daily to ameliorate inequality and a step our community can take to prevent homelessness. Thank you.”
10/21/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FIFTY The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The twenty-eighth public comment of the night is Brel at 02:53:20, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Oh. Good evening. Is it my time to speak? Okay, thanks. My name is Brel Froebe. And I watched the Committee of the Whole meeting – part of it – today.
“And I just gotta say I’m incredibly disappointed and a little surprised that no one asked a single question or made a single comment in regards to the Mayor’s statement at the end of the meeting regarding the forthcoming sweep that’s scheduled to happen.
“The Mayor said that there are reasonable alternatives for shelter for people go who are at Geri Fields. No one at the meeting asked what those are. Like, yeah, it blows my mind, but – that that question wasn’t asked, because in previous meetings – two weeks ago at the Committee of the Whole meeting – it was – seemed to be fairly widely accepted that there aren’t places for people to go.
“Both Lisa Anderson and Lilliquist expressed concern that without a change of policy or someplace for people to camp that is authorized, that this pattern of sweeping will just continue from one site to another.
“No one asked where are these people who are living there going to go after the sweep.
“It’s also, you know, really concerning to me that what was proposed by the Mayor is that – in the next few days – that people will be coming in to provide services. And you know, unfortunately there’s a perception amongst many people that the HOT team is part of the sweep process for this very reason, right? They’re brought in before a camp is cleared to provide services that literally don’t exist – I mean, to put people on a waiting list for housing that doesn’t exist.
“So, you know, many of you expressed that you were not supportive [unable to distinguish] last sweep that happened, and you were surprised that it happened. But you now know there’s going to be an upcoming sweep after March 16th. So it’s on all of you to stop it. Use your power and stop this immoral, dehumanizing sweep.
“If you’re going to move people, there needs to be another alternative for them. You gotta question this, because the Mayor was being disingenuous, to be honest, in his statement. And I think all of you know that. So, like, hold each other accountable and, you know, let’s be real about what is actually out there in regards to shelter.
“And lastly – I am running out of time – I wanted to say that, you know, don’t use the excuse of – that there needs to be a change on a state level in regards to hazard pay. Please take this on, on your own -“
Time was called and the comment was ended by Council.
10/22/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The twenty-ninth public comment of the night is Peter at 02:56:59, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hello. My name is Peter…I am here speaking on behalf of the hazard pay initiative – or ordinance that I’m glad to hear that Council Member Anderson introduced it today and I hope the legal department can move along quickly.
“I am a City resident and parent. I am someone that lives with a serious health condition – and also, bad lighting, I’m sorry about that. I didn’t realize how it looked.
“And, most importantly, I’m somebody whose lucky enough to be able to work from home throughout this pandemic. I think all of us know in our hearts how essential grocery store workers have been to our own survival during this pandemic.
“And for many months, many of us, especially those with health conditions, or who live with elderly family members, or family members with health conditions, have tried to reduce our activity to the bare minimum. And that’s meant avoiding public spaces, especially those that are crowded, or people aren’t masked, or aren’t properly masked.
“For me, being able to work from home – it’s meant that I’ve been lucky enough not to go almost anywhere, except for the grocery store.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, in the first few months after the governor’s order, you know, this felt okay. It felt like the grocery stores were taking the pandemic somewhat seriously, seeking to limit entry into the stores, ensuring that people were wearing masks, having proper cleaning supplies, and etc.
“But over the last eight or nine months, I think we all know that this has really fallen off, and the safety and hygiene practices in stores has really not been upheld in a way that keeps workers or customers safe.
“As customers, of course, we have a choice of where we want to shop, where we feel most comfortable. Employees don’t have this same choice.
“So, some stores offered modest hazard pay early on in the pandemic. But we, as a matter of public policy, have not addressed the hazards faced by grocery workers. And this is what I hope you will all do in the coming weeks.
“And I wanted to stress, like Betsy…said, we know that the COVID pandemic has increased pre-existing inequalities. And grocery stores are really demonstrative of this. Just to give you some numbers: Albertson’s CEO Vivek Sankaran made $29 million last year. Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen made $20 million.
“That’s 789 times the pay of the average Kroger worker.
“Both companies have returned billions of dollars to shareholders.
“And just on the closing of the store in Seattle, I think most of us who follow the news know that those closings were already planned and that these companies do use threats of litigation and store closings to keep cities from doing what they’re legally entitled to do under the law. Thank you.”
10/22/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-TWO The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The thirtieth public comment of the night is Mary at 03:00:20, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hi. I don’t know why my video’s not working, but can you hear me? Oh, okay, alright. I can’t see myself. My name’s Mary…and I wanted to speak on a few things.
“First of all, I want to support the grocery workers. They clearly are the ones in the trenches and they deserve hazard pay. We don’t need the billionaires becoming more wealthy in this country. So I hope that you can support the grocery workers.
“I also support dropping all charges from the January 28th sweep. There’s no reason to charge the people that you were looking for on Facebook. That did come off as extremely racist and it just makes no sense that you would come looking for them when you didn’t arrest them on that day.
“Also, I wanted to let you know, I am a real estate agent and I market to people relocating to the Bellingham area. In my marketing, I have come in touch with dozens of people that are wanting to relocate to Bellingham and a lot of them ask if it’s a liberal city.
“How am I supposed to answer that question, especially after January 28th’s military – militarized police – whatever that was – that engagement. That was atrocious and it was horrifying.
“And lastly, I wanted to speak about the sweeps that are happening next week on the 16th. For three days that there will be services offering options to the people that are living at Camp 2 on Geri Fields, those options are going to be Base Camp. That’s going to be the only option that’s immediately available.
“And I believe that all of you can understand that Base Camp is not an option for most of the people that are at Camp 2. So, you’re really just dispersing them into the woods, the bushes, the streets and where they came back for.
“This is not a solution and there are solutions available. S.O.S. is that solution for you. You need to give them a chance, listen to them, and pay real close attention, because they may be the ones that can solve this problem that Bellingham has. And they can do it in a conscientious, kind, careful way that will provide the best outcome for all of the people involved. Thank you very much.”
10/22/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link:
The thirty-first public comment of the night is Trevor at 03:03:35, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Good evening Council. My name is Trevor…I’m a resident of Bellingham, and I’m the political director for Laborers Local 292. I’m here speaking in support of the hazard pay ordinance before you guys that was brought forward by – earlier today. I just want to say thank you to Lisa Anderson for brining this forward.
“And, you know, one of the things that the pandemic has made very clear – there’s been lots of testimony about this tonight – is that there have been a lot of people that we’ve needed, that we need everyday. There’s a reason they call grocery workers frontline workers, because they are in the thick of it. And they go to work everyday and they support us.
“So passing the ordinance is the right thing for the workers and it’s the right thing for our community. So I urge your support of the hazard pay ordinance. Thank you.”
10/23/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-FOUR The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The thirty-second public comment of the night is at 03:05:20, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hello. Good evening. Yeah, Gregg…Dear City Council Members, I’m taking time to talk to you about the concerns I’ve witnessed and seen at Camp 210, the representation from BOP Mutual Aid, S.O.S., and some of the other volunteers’ actions I have seen at the camp on Fraser St., when it was at City Hall and the protests that BOP have called upon on their Facebook and participated in.
“Living in the Puget Neighborhood, and watching Camp 210 for over 3 months, coming to and from work downtown, observing it many times from the 6th floor of a building – I saw random acts of physical aggression, harassment, and out of control behavior, largely due, in part, to untreated mental illness and substance abuse.”
This is an excerpt from Gregg’s public comment. The full public comment can be heard at the 03:05:20 mark of the meeting recording at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
10/23/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-FIVE The fifth Bellingham City Council meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The thirty-third public comment of the night is Rosa at 03:08:50, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hello. Rosa…amnesty, drop all charges related to J28 and halt the ongoing investigations, targeting of protesters.
“It’s unjust that BPD is using their resources to endanger the lives of protesters through racist targeting of community members. They are showing a gross display of power.
“Permanent no-barrier housing for all. The City of Bellingham has the resources necessary to house every individual. The excessive spending on police proves this.
“Housing is a human right. Everybody, regardless of who they are, deserves housing. Housing is a human right, therefore it cannot be conditional.
“Non-profits continuously deny services to those criminalized and those with mental health problems and substance abuse problems. There needs to be an alternative that provides resources for everyone.
“Permanently ban encampment sweeps and evictions, especially the one coming up. Encampment sweeps are always unjust. They simply displace our most targeted community members, while offering no solutions, and must be banned permanently.
“The militarization displayed on J28 shows the extent to which the City of Bellingham will target houseless people with Bellingham Police Department, Whatcom Sheriff’s, Police, SWAT, Border Patrol, and Public Works all displayed – displaced those with nowhere to go.
“The City of Bellingham already has a budget of $200,000 allocated for sweeping camps. On J28, the Washington State Patrol alone, spent $53,000 on personnel. This could have been used for housing.
“I would like to say that I also support the hazard pay raise.
“And then to continue on my last point, the City of Bellingham and the Mayor – and Mayor Fleetwood claim that there are services that don’t exist.
“The majority of the shelters that the Mayor claims to be open, the Salvation Army, and the Mission, Lighthouse Base Camp – all of these are Christian non-profits and this violates the religious freedoms of houseless people and it’s in violation of the separation of church and state.
“The Bellingham Police Department budget could be used to fund emergency no-barrier housing right now. All power to the people.”
10/23/21 PART ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-SIX The fifth Bellingham City Council Meeting of the year was March 8, 2021. This meeting was removed from YouTube by YouTube, and the City made a copy of the meeting video available at this link: https://cob.sharepoint.com/:v:/s/g.all.publicvideos/EYnTaOu020JKqDe_p15nSU0BnCiHIdray8K8-P9cf-5wzA?e=Kw3cMd
The thirty-fourth, and final, public comment of the night is Celia at 03:11:06, after Council had attended to other City Business and public comment resumed:
“Hello, Celia…Can you hear me?
“I just want to point out the blatant hypocrisy in other statements, and the gross display of white supremacy that has happened in this entire meeting.
“The Bellingham Police Department, along with other government entities and non-profits harbor known serial abusers and white supremacists. They have and continue to violate human rights across the board.
“So what does it say about accountability to allow such people to hypocritically enact punishments to crimes when they have not taken accountability for their own crimes?
“White supremacists don’t determine what is and isn’t right and they never will.
“I also want to address the language-policing. Anger is justified and you can’t tell people what to do when you don’t even follow your own laws. They only cater to the protected, like, higher class. And you guys are not doing anything to protect poor people.
“The workers that you are, like, not allowing hazard pay are gonna end up on the street, and then they’re also gonna be setting up tents. So all these problems are connected and the only main issue that’s preventing it is your white supremacy.
“Stop beating around the bush and stop pretending like it’s not an issue when it has been an issue and will continue to be an issue, if you keep going down this same path. It’s selfish of you guys to put the burden of your terrible decisions on the youth.
“I also want to point out that one isolated incident does not mean that you are justified in sweeping an entire encampment, or you might as well be admitting that everyone that has no money and is unhoused is a sexual predator and is a serial abuser. And what part of, like, jailing people and kicking them out on the street doesn’t perpetuate that very thing that you’re trying to prevent.
“So all these solutions that you guys have, like – look there’s City Council Members leaving right now. Like, why – what’s the point of having a public comment section, if you’re not going to listen. And you talk about, like, policing us further, when we have zero say in what you guys do. Like, you guys don’t represent anyone. You guys don’t represent me – or none of the 90,000 people you claim to represent. You guys clearly could care less.
“And to everyone that’s out at camp – keep going.”