Seattle Art Museum workers fight for unhoused neighbors
Seattle Art Museum staff members have organized against management over new installations: barricades and perimeter security checks, “putting into place a policy of hostile deterrence against our unhoused neighbors,” according to a group who say they mainly work in the security department.
Stone bollards have been installed near the museum’s entrance at First Avenue and University Street, and the museum installed a plywood wall last year that shortens its Second and University exit's outdoor vestibule. These elements prevent people from sleeping, setting up tents or loitering on the sidewalks, efforts that are commonly deemed to be hostile architecture against unhoused people.
Staff members found out about this policy in mid-June from a leaked email that had been sent internally at SAM. Staffers tried speaking to security management to stop these changes, but to no avail. They then petitioned against the policy and contacted media outlets.
SAM CEO Amada Cruz replied internally to the staffer’s reaction. Real Change received Cruz’s reply from a “SAM museum workers” Gmail account. The email was addressed to “a small, angry group of you (that) has decided to issue a petition online to really hurt SAM publicly.”
So far, the museum workers have collected 383 signatures to dissuade SAM management from this course of action.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s Road to Recovery Plan allowed businesses to return to usual capacity and operations June 30 with exceptions for large indoor events.
Washington State Department of Health is mandating masks for unvaccinated people in public indoors and for all people, regardless of vaccine status, in public transit vehicles and stations, childcare facilities, K-12 schools, health care facilities, correctional facilities and homeless shelters. Businesses still hold the right to request or require customers and employees to wear masks no matter their vaccine status.
COVID-19 variants have made some people and policy makers hesitant to stop mask wearing. Alpha is the most prevalent variant throughout the U.S., but the other variants are threatening because they can spread more quickly, and a small percentage of vaccinated breakthroughs are occurring.
According to the Washington State Department of Health’s latest sequencing and variants report, dated June 30, “some antibody treatments may be less effective” and “vaccine effectiveness may be lower” against the newer variants.
The DOH has tracked vaccine-breakthrough cases for nine variants in Washington, including 286 alpha vaccine-breakthrough cases, 133 gamma and 113 epsilon. There have been 661 breakthrough cases total in the state.
Read more of the July 7-13, 2021 issue.