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Letter | When helping the homeless, safety should come first
After the recent local meeting about the homeless in North Bend, and not being invited (I can guess why), I found a need to do something I don’t do very often for an opinionated guy like myself—write a letter to the editor.
We usually try to keep a relatively low profile in the community, except for the work of our non-profit group, Friends of the Trail. After being in North Bend 20 years now, and cleaning up public lands in Washington state for 17-plus years now—most notably the Snoqualmie Middle Fork Basin, the Sultan Basin, and the Stossel Creek area between Carnation and Duvall, as well as ongoing projects all over Washington state for a variety of government agencies—we are the group that picks up after the homeless in the area, from the river by the Pour House to Meadowbrook and beyond.
I started to write this letter while waiting for the second time today on King County deputies to respond to problem tweakers on public land by the bridge closest to the Pour House.
This particular bunch causing today’s problems for my cleanup crew aren’t new to me. Back and forth across North Bend they go, stealing road signs and whatever they can to construct their “tweaker camps.” I understand from the first responding deputy today that the kids in North Bend say these yahoos have got the “goods”, and I guess most of the kids know it.
I don’t agree that giving problem people free stuff helps them—but rather, keeps them in the community and enables them. Free tents, food, clothes, whadaya need? So much of it goes right in the landfill. They have no problem leaving free, wet stuff behind. And they do.
These tweaks are threatening to sic their pit bull on me, the same one that attacked an officer last year.
My crew is a little uncomfortable, and that’s certainly understandable. A first tweaker wasted no time getting the heck out of there when the first cop drove up.
The first deputy says Big Baldy with the pit bull is unfriendly and carries a 12-inch kitchen knife. Hmm, another day at the office.
I get no love letters anymore for the work we do. We’re old news. I just get ragged by the local deacon for harassing meth-heads. Don’t think I don’t watch my back everywhere I go.
I’ve made some lovely friends through the years. That’s because people who know me know that I tell you what I think. And I think that these problem people shouldn’t be allowed to live on public land. The police know who the problem people are. I’m not so cold-hearted to suggest that we dislodge and bug all the “campers” we come across. But people who threaten walkers and work crews need to go. It scares away normal people who have a right to be there. I would imagine the agencies who manage these lands realize the possible legal ramifications should the worst actually happen. I’ve been threatened in the area along the river toward Meadowbrook many times, as well as the area in Fall City where the officer-involved shooting happened Monday.
Why are these people allowed to stay? Leave the friendly normal folk if you want, and get rid of the rest. Too much huggy-feely isn’t always a good thing. Some people you just can’t help.
• Editor’s note: “Tweaker” is slang for a methamphetamine user. According to local police, while problems with alcohol, chiefly, and drugs are known among transients and local homeless, not all local homeless are substance abusers, and it’s inaccurate to lump them all together.