This is one of those “only in Seattle stories.”
Police arrested a homeless man Saturday evening for allegedly stealing an excavator from a nearby construction site.
Neighbor Brian Hartman says he saw the suspect driving the heavy equipment on the street and into a heavily wooded area in Jose Rizal Park.
“He goes ‘I’m building a cabin down here’ and I said, ‘no you’re not!’” Harman
Volunteers from Seattle homeless outreach group, We Heart Seattle called 911.
“Literally the words out of his mouth were ‘I was told I can do this; this is everybody’s land’” Suarez
Andrea Suarez says the criminals know SPD is down hundreds of officers and are taking advantage of the situation. “We live in a no fear, no rules playground and people are doing whatever the h*ll they want.”
At the site the excavator was found, Suarez found a bag full of stolen credit cards, a bag of marijuana, and meth.
Suarez says most of the illicit activity out here is being fueled by drugs. Instead of waiting for city crews, volunteers went in and cleaned up the encampment.
District 2 councilmember Tammy Morales represents the Beacon Hill neighborhood and did not respond to requests for comment.
Neighbor Craig Thompson says Morales’ anti-cop policies are emboldening criminal behavior. When I ask Thompson where councilmember Morales is, he says “I’ve been asking that same question for the last four years.”
Aside from the stolen excavator, this Seattle Parks property is now destroyed. Rare plants and animal species are now at risk of losing this habitat in the Duwamish Green Belt, and there are even more homeless encampments scattered in the deep woods behind the park.
There have been multiple fires in the Green Belt area, leaving encampments burned and sections of the woods full of debris
This is now the second time this year that the We Heart Seattle team has helped recover stolen heavy equipment in a homeless encampment. In May, Andrea Suarez and her team removed a stolen forklift from the woods.
“Compassionate intervention,” Suarez emphasizes. “At the end of the day, this gentleman will hopefully get connected to resources, psychiatric care, maybe some detox.”
Suarez is asking neighbors to vote in the November city council election if they want to see change in their communities. “Turn your ballots in, read up on your candidates”.