Homeless Targeted In South Seattle Attacks

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee October 30, 2009

Earlier this month, several residents of Tent City 3 were violently attacked by a group of teens and young men near Rainier Beach High School. Residents of tent city claim they were targeted in the assaults because they are homeless.

Up until last week, Tent City 3—which hosted about 100 men and women—was located on a lot adjacent to Rainier Beach High School in South Seattle. In a police report filed on October 22nd, Officer James Stewart wrote that "since the placement of "Tent City" [in South Seattle], homeless individuals have been involved in severe assaults and each victim has stated the suspect are Pacific Islander or Samoan, but none of them could identify the suspects." Officer Stewart's report attributes the latest assault to a "street gang," but offers no specifics.

Last Thursday, at about 8:30 p.m., officers responded tot he Atlantic City Boat Ramp in the 9000 block of Seward Park Ave S to attend to an unconscious man near the boat ramp. Officers found the man laying on the ground behind the restrooms, a police report says, "bleeding profusely from the face." Near the man were several cans of 211 Steel Reserve beer.

The man, who is a resident of Tent City 3, told police he couldn't remember much about the assault, but said he believed he was attacked by three or four pacific islander men dressed in dark clothing, who pushed him to the ground, kicked him in the back, stomach and face, and the fled.

The man was transported to Harborview, and police searched the area for suspects. Several blocks away, officers found several men matching the description given by the injured man. When police approached them, officers noticed that the group of men had several cans of 211 Steel Reserve beer on them, just like those found near the victim of the assault. Police ID'd the men, and arrested two of them on outstanding warrants.

According to Tent City resident Irish Kelly, this wasn't the first assault on a Tent City 3 resident. Two weeks earlier, another man was brutally attacked and robbed by another group of men in their teens and early twenties. "[He] just got out of hospital two days ago," Kelly says. "They stomped his face pretty good. I couldn’t recognize him. He’s lucky he didn’t lose his eyesight."

Kelly says Tent City residents had to walk behind Rainier Beach High School to get to the camp, and often saw a "big pack of 5 to 20" teens hanging around an abandoned building near the school. “They were claiming that as their territory,” Kelly says, adding that he believes Tent City residents were specifically targeted. "There’s no question they knew who we were," he says.

Tent City moved to Lake City last Saturday.

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