Cindy Pierce of Magnolia seems to be permanently angry. And she is on a roll.
Last April, KIRO reported that while Pierce was in a Georgetown restaurant, the car hood on her late model white Porsche was splattered with blue ink, causing an estimated $10,000 damage.
“I don’t put it in parking lots,” Pierce told KIRO. “I’m very careful where I park downtown. I only park in Pacific Place.”
And yet, the chaos of an unpredictable world still found her.
Pierce complained that police are unable to protect Seattle residents from rising rates of property crime.
And no one is immune. Not even Magnolia-dwelling, Porsche-driving, Pacific Place-parking residents such as herself.
When the city announced that homeless encampments would be sited on city property in Ballard and Interbay, Pierce was in the news again, leading the opposition.
In one of the uglier community meetings in recent memory, hundreds of people turned out in Ballard last August to oppose the encampments.
Erica Barnett quoted Pierce at length in a blog post called “None Dare Call it Classism.”
“I believe our mayor Murray needs to have a come to Jesus meeting with the former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, and have a conversation about how to clean this city up and not attract people like these. How many jobs do the tent city people have?”
Despite the alarmist opposition, Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council stayed the course, and the encampments went forward. Now, about 150 of the nearly 4,000 homeless people counted outside in King County last year after the shelters were filled have a safe place to lay their heads.
When I visited the Interbay tent encampment just after Christmas, residents told me that they have been nearly overwhelmed by community support.
This did not surprise me. Tent Cities have been hosted by churches around the city for more than 20 years, and over that time, a predictable pattern has emerged.
At first, the community freaks out. They fear for the safety of their children and brace for a wave of drug and alcohol fueled crime.
And then, they find that nothing of the sort happens. People get to know the encampment residents and find that they are really no different than anyone else.
By the next time the church hosts an encampment, no one cares. The people who began as unknown and feared outsiders have become a part of the community.
Alarm turns to welcome, and people go from feeling threatened to asking how they can help.
But this time, not so much. If a packed community meeting in Magnolia on Jan. 6 is any indication, outrage over the homeless people in our midst is not going away anytime soon.
There was Pierce again, holding aloft a baggie full of hypodermic needles found around Magnolia, and blaming the drug detritus on RV campers.
Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that there is a nationwide heroin epidemic, and Seattle is one of the hardest hit cities. Overdose deaths here have doubled since 2010.
But it seems like a stretch to put this on homeless people in campers. What? Are people shooting up and then throwing their works out their RV windows?
“I think most of the people in the RVs are criminals,” Pierce said. “I don’t know who they are, and I don’t know where they came from, but they’re here. We’ve got to get rid of them.”
Does this sound familiar?
“They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people!”
When extreme inequality becomes the norm, none of us are immune. That might look like getting ink splattered on your new Porsche, or it might look like a homeless woman getting murdered under a bridge.
The question for us, as a city and as a nation, is whether we’re going to find solutions or blame the victims. So far, the city is focused on solutions.
Let’s work together to keep it that way.