September 1, 2021 Dena Jensen
9/1/21: This project is a work in progress, will be updated daily until transcription of public comments are 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 you’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 working 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 [indistinguishable] 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 [indistinguishable]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, noted as bleeped, were edited out 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.”
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.
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 [indistinguishable] 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 [indistinguishable] 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 [indistinguishable] my time. Good day.”
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 [indistinguishable] 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.”
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; [indistinguishable] 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. [indistinguishable] 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.