Our friends at Save Our Aberdeen Please will be returning to the steps of Aberdeen City Hall on Sunday April 25th at 1PM for another round of their exploitation and misery porn. On top of continuing to stage these so called clean up events they have begun to display a few new tactics. Apparently, they have found some folks’ camps and invaded them. Taking incredibly exploitative and potentially illegal photos of people in their homes. Yes, you heard that right, these fucking people are going around snooping on people as they lay in their tents! What would you do if these women were at your house snapping photos of your messes? Opening your house up, without your consent, to be judged and analyzed by assholes online whose houses probably aren’t much cleaner.
Looking over recent posts on their Facebook page shows that they are doing far more than simply cleaning up trash around town. They never seem to clean up trash anywhere that isn’t also an encampment. Is this because there is no trash on the side of the roads? No, just the other day this author saw a street sweeper in town and I wondered to myself if Kacey Ann Morrison was getting all hot and bothered by the fact she has to pay for the city to clean up the garbage left by all these drivers. But of course she doesn’t care about that, she has a different agenda.
Besides it being disgusting to invade peoples personal space like that, (and documenting your struggles for personal gain and followers) it is also actually dangerous. They probably think they are being clever by framing this as more cleanup excursions, we can plainly see what the point is when they are locating and then sharing the locations of current encampments. Sometimes the safest thing for the individual unhoused person is to be out of sight. Daily harassment is real and by avoiding high traffic areas they can reduce the negative interactions with people who want to harass them. Every day the police harass and bother these people, moving them around constantly to make their lives harder. Danger from state and non-state fascists is undeniable.
Our friends on the streets have told us about constant harassment by people driving by, as well as the police and WADOT. With some drivers coming by so regularly as to be recognized. Not to mention the very real possibility a deranged right winger escalating into causing real harm. The dehumanization from this group has now been paired with the tactic of documenting known locations of vulnerable people. This puts them in great risk of facing more harassment or attacks from SOAP followers, many of whom display a range of shittiness from callous disregard for human life, to calls for real violence.
In late March, as though in response to our previous article on SOAP, a weekly blog appeared from Wes Cormier, seen here contemplating deeply the moment to moment struggle of someone living in a tent.
The blog seems aimed at publishing counter pieces to local issues we ourselves are covering such as the needle exchange, the low barrier shelter, and of course SOAP. On top of that he published a transphobic piece of garbage writing and conspiracy theorizing so horrible and uninformed I hesitate to share it here. But as it seems indicative of who we are dealing with here I will share just the text of what he is trying to call an article with a CONTENT WARNING – for transphobia:
A widely distributed and controversial Covid survey given to many Washington State children, grades 6 – 12, asks if they are “transgender” or their sexual orientation. The survey has parents in the Bethel School District furious according to 770KTTH.
The pictures below, captured from a student’s cell phone show some of the questions asked in the Covid Survey. Clearly the parties that provided this survey didn’t think this through. Or, perhaps a more disturbing scenario is that they did think this through. Is the state going to use the information from the survey to target youth and send counselors to children that marked a different box?
Time will tell.
– Wes Cormier
Besides typing a small 7 sentence Facebook post and trying call it “news” this blog seemingly serves as the SOAP/GOP propaganda outlet. He has published a puff piece for SOAP and its “leader and activist – Kacey Morrison”, able here to capture a photograph with slightly less garbage in it than usual.
Here they tackle the fact that we referred to SOAP correctly as a hate group. Now we did not expect them to embrace the term or agree with it. But perhaps they do protest too much. Typically, groups don’t have to go around defending themselves of such charges for innocently picking up trash.
Now when Kacey “The Cornerstone” Morrison says she cares for people we don’t doubt that she loves certain people as much as anyone else, but consider what care and love she has shown the most vulnerable people in our town. Below are some examples of the types of conversations SOAP has in their comments sections all the time.
More of the same tired right wing talking points are echoed in her suggestion of solutions, none of which even approach something one could reasonably consider an actual answer to the question much less a viable solution. Someone may have a future in politics if she keeps up this sort of rhetorical evasion. She continues to dodge on the subject of the needle exchange, giving platitudes that sound stale enough to be on a motivational poster next to a cat hanging from a wire. Her solution…real help, compassion, and rehabilitation. WOW, really cracked it open on that one Kacey. If only someone had thought of it sooner.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) her group is not focused on providing any sort of aid, or “real help”, and as far as compassion I will let the reader consider the following photos, taken by Kacey after having literally invaded people’s camps to take photos of their stuff and thrown their stuff away. On multiple occasions actually taking photos INSIDE people’s tents, once even with a person and his dog still inside! So I ask you this: If you see an encampment, go up to it, throw people’s belongings out, publicize people’s precarious living situations and locations, and then leave with your misery porn in hand to post online later to gain support for enacting policies that harm those very people…is that compassion?? What at all did you provide for those people? What even is your argument? Some of the photos are too gross to share here but these just about sum it up.
Having dispensed with all the vile garbage being strewn about by this propaganda outlet, lets now turn to the legal concerns posed by Kacy Ann Morrison’s invasion of people’s privacy. I’m sure she didn’t imagine that those people also had rights, as she might expect to have herself. Turns out “courts have repeatedly recognized that people without housing are protected by the same constitutional rights as everyone else” according to a letter sent to municipalities across the state by the Washington ACLU . Below is a document published by the WA ACLU in regards to the fact that it doesn’t matter what your residence looks like or is made out of, your privacy rights remain intact. Kacey may want to reconsider her actions if it could result in legal trouble for her.
*to be clear this author does not believe in the prison industrial complex as a way to deal with any problem, nor do I think that the police would possibly act to preserve the dignity of those they treat so poorly.
Amy Roe, Former ACLU-WA Senior Writer
Every person has the right to privacy in their home, regardless of whether that home is a lean-to on a roadside or a mansion on a mountain. By ruling that a homeless man camping on public land has the same right to privacy inside his tent as others have in their homes—and that police can’t enter without a warrant— the Washington Court of Appeals this month affirmed this right.
The case, State of Washington v. Pippin, involves William Pippin, who was living in a shelter he’d fashioned by draping a tarp over a fence and a guardrail in Vancouver, Washington, when he was visited one morning by police. When officers rapped on the tarp, Pippin told them he was just waking up and would come out shortly.
Instead of waiting for Pippin to emerge, officers lifted the tarp, revealing Pippin sitting up in his makeshift bed; as Pippin got out of bed, officers saw a bag containing methamphetamine. By entering Pippin’s tent without permission, police conducted an unlawful warrantless search of his home, the ACLU-WA said in friend of the court brief in the case. The State Court of Appeals agreed: Pippin’s rights were violated under Article I, section 7 of the Washington constitution, which mandates that “[n]o person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.”
One’s home has throughout history been seen as the ultimate bulwark against government intrusion, the court said in its decision. Because a person’s home is likely to contain intimate details of their life that must not be revealed against their will, the law protects homes from warrantless searches.
But one need not occupy a traditional home to have this privacy right. Courts have also found that, for people who are homeless, closed baggage and containers are protected areas.
Pippin lived in a lean-to, but that a home is temporary does not diminish the right to privacy within it, “nor does the flimsy and vulnerable nature of an improvised structure. For the homeless, those may often be the only refuge for the private in the world as it is,” the court said.
The court rebuked the State’s assertion that Pippin’s homelessness was a choice: “To call homelessness voluntary, and thus unworthy of basic privacy protection is to walk blind among the realities around us.”
Such an argument would wrongly penalize people for being poor by stripping from them the privacy rights the law guarantees everyone else. “Our Constitution means something better,” the court said.
To illustrate what that might look like, the court quoted “King Lear,” who, in Act 3, Scene 4, has been stripped of his power and wealth, and faces a raging storm. At last Lear sees how poor and homeless people in his Kingdom suffer as they struggle to endure the elements. Remorseful for his blindness to their plight, Lear implores those in power not to follow his lead, but to instead, “Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, That thou mayst . . . show the heavens more just.”
The lessons learned by Shakespeare’s tragic hero should not be lost on us. The law exists, the court said, not only to prevent anarchy and grease the wheels of our economy, but also to “bring signs of justice amid our thirsts and furies and, in doing so, remind us of our humanity.”
Doug Klunder and Nancy Talner of the ACLU of Washington wrote the brief, which was also signed by Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, Outsiders Inn, and Real Change.
The next letter was also published by the ACLU and sent to the U.S. District Court in Seattle. It deals with the issues of throwing people’s belongings away, something Kacey has done repeatedly. The article discusses how it is unconstitutional for the government to throw your stuff away without “adequate notice, an opportunity to be heard, or a meaningful way to reclaim any property that was not immediately destroyed.” If it is illegal for a government entity to do so, then it stands to reason that Kacey would have even less authority to do so.
ACLU-WA Asks Court to Halt Seattle’s Illegal Seizure and Destruction of Unhoused Peoples’ Property
Thursday, September 7, 2017
Today the ACLU of Washington is asking the U.S. District Court in Seattle to issue a preliminary injunction to stop the City of Seattle and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) from taking and throwing away property owned by people living outside. The ACLU-WA will also ask the Court to certify the lawsuit as a class action and allow the individually named Plaintiffs—Lisa Hooper, Brandie Osborne, Kayla Willis, and Reavy Washington— to represent the class.
The action comes in a class action lawsuit (Hooper v. City of Seattle) the ACLU of Washington filed in January against the City and WSDOT for violating the constitutional rights of people living outside by seizing and discarding their property without adequate notice, an opportunity to be heard, or a meaningful way to reclaim any property that was not immediately destroyed. The Episcopal Diocese and Real Change also are plaintiffs in the suit.
“In this country, the government can’t just take and destroy your personal property without at least telling you formally that it’s going to do so and giving you a meaningful opportunity to get it back,” said Breanne Schuster, ACLU-WA Staff Attorney.
Nearly two years after the Mayor declared a state of emergency on homelessness, the rates of people living outside have only increased. A 2017 count found more than 2,000 people sleeping outside in Seattle in the dead of winter, with no shelter but what that they can erect themselves in the form of materials like tarps, blankets, and tents. Not since the Great Depression have so many people been forced to live outdoors in our city. By seizing and frequently discarding items that these individuals own and that are essential to their daily living, the City and WSDOT are worsening their circumstances.
“Taking sleeping bags and tents from homeless people actually makes it less likely that they’ll be able to connect with the services they need and do the things they need to do to get into housing,” said Emily Chiang, Legal Director of the ACLU-WA. “It is profoundly destabilizing and only makes it harder for them to survive outdoors.”
If issued, the injunction would not stop the City from collecting actual garbage or waste on public property, nor would it preclude the City from offering outreach or services to unhoused individuals that address the root causes of homelessness. And it would not prevent the City from dealing with immediate health and safety concerns.
Representing the Plaintiffs are ACLU-WA cooperating attorneys Todd Williams and Eric Lindberg of Corr Cronin Micheslon Baumgardner, Fogg, and Moore LLP, and ACLU-WA staff attorneys Nancy Talner and Breanne Schuster.
So, all things considered, this group is definitely evolving beyond simple trash clean up and headed, along with the rest of the similar regional groups, towards some sort of final solution to their perceived “problem” population. Visions of forced treatment, labor camps, and open air prisons dance in their heads. We cannot wait until this group escalates their actions further, we must come together to show the community that we have their backs and that we stand with them in their attempts to be safe. Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network will continue to monitor such groups and share what we find with you, as well as the larger regional antifascist network.
Rise up. Let’s Go, CRMAN