[Author’s Note: I am not a representative of Camp 210, but a concerned community member and volunteer; mistakes are my own]
This message is a plea to our Mayor Fleetwood to stop the sweep of our houseless neighbors at Camp 210, in their new location by Puget and Fraser near Civic field Friday at 4pm. This article is also an invitation to the community to support our houseless neighbors in voicing their concerns about this sweep.
I understand this message is long so I can summarize it now:
Please contact your Mayor, principally; your health department; the parks department; your City Councilmembers; and encourage your organizations to denounce this sweep. Sweeps do not solve houselessness, they only move our houseless neighbors.
The City of Bellingham and Whatcom County Government have been increasingly focused since the cold weather season has hit, on putting out information about their housing and sheltering efforts. There is no doubt that they have been making efforts to create low income housing and to sustain and enhance some sheltering solutions. But a significant challenge being faced right now by our community is a failure of our government agencies to respond effectively to hostile weather emergency sheltering needs, especially during a pandemic.
Fall, wind, and rain are here. Late-November, (which is the last time severe weather shelters were offered) is two months away. At Friday’s 1:30 p.m. Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting, 5 minutes are scheduled for discussing Winter Shelter (temporary and emergency) and 5 minutes are scheduled for discussing Encampment clean-up/sweeps. How are these critical topics not a priority topic when people who are unsheltered are in positions -right now – to have their tarps and tents either blow away or be flooded, and freezing temps are weeks away?
On Friday, September 11, 2020 Whatcom County’s Homeless Strategies Workgroup (HSW) held their most recent meeting. Many critical issues were discussed and people should watch and listen to the whole meeting. Homelessness is an emergency for many members of our community.
In this blog post, however, I am providing a transcription of a discussion during the meeting, which began shortly before public comment was taken and continued throughout some of the public comments later on. The discussion focused on Bellingham Police Department (BPD) policy/procedure related to City of Bellingham unauthorized homeless “camp clean ups”, as they are referred to by COB.
I am posting below Bellingham Police Department Chief Doll’s statement at the 8/24/20 Bellingham City Council meeting last night, which was regarding the September 2019 prank involving BPD officers taking advantage of a severely mentally ill community member to play a dangerous prank on fellow officers at a local restaurant. The incident was reported in the Bellingham Herald on August 15. I will put the link to the part of the meeting where the statement begins at about 00:52:30, https://youtu.be/7-r7GZCe5r0?t=3146
Since the body count of victims of unjust killings by police officers culminated with the slaying of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in late May this year, community members in various areas of Whatcom County have been calling more intensely for numerous types of law enforcement and justice changes aimed at eliminating racist, discriminatory, biased, violent, militaristic, unjust, or unnecessary law enforcement actions. Increasingly, voices of local law enforcement officials are resounding in response.
Click the graphic of a portion of a recent listing of Bellingham Police Daily Activity displaying four different items regarding Illegal Camp clean ups and notifications to access this information on the COB website
July 9, 2020 Dena Jensen
Sent: Wednesday, July 8, 2020, 07:47:20 PM PDT
Subject: A call for providing funding and land for tiny home communities
Dear Whatcom County Council and Bellingham City Council:
I am writing to call on you to support the request of community members and members of HomesNOW! to act quickly to reappropriate funds from things like unauthorized tent site clean-ups toward the creation of tent, tiny home, or cottage communities.