Offended by accusation that poor people are potential sex offenders | Letter
November 28, 2012 · 5:10 PM
I read the story you published regarding Tent City 4 (TC4) and some of the comments. I noticed how you try to be fair with your reporting, and not overly judgmental, but you only heard and wrote one side of the story, and the reactions prove this.
It appears the community does not understand why SHARE does not want to allow weekly sex offender checks. Proof of this is in the first comment made by Rick Ockerman, where he thinks that this alleged sex offender would have been identified if weekly checks were done. Mr. Ockerman is wrong because the offender was never convicted in a court of law, and therefore was never added to the sex offender list.
There was no warrant for his arrest because no warrant had been issued, and only after he was admitted into the camp was a warrant issued for his arrest. This is the only good thing that happened throughout all of this, which is that because of the warrant checks made during the man’s intake into TC4 the police knew where to find him and pick him up quickly. It should also be made very clear that the alleged crime was not a random act that took place in the neighborhood where the camp is staying. In fact, it did not even take place in King County but in Pierce County.
TC4 has always been a very safe place for both its residents and the neighbors. TC4 protocol for new intakes is to check for any outstanding warrants and sexual offenses. If a new intake has even a minor traffic infraction that resulted in a non-extraditable warrant, then that person is rejected because of the outstanding warrant.
The priest of St. John Vianney requested the camp undergo random weekly sex offender checks because one yet-to-be-convicted sex offender was arrested within the camp. There is no one within the camp who would refuse such a request because we the campers are all decent people and just thinking of child molestation is revolting to us.
We at TC4, after being caught in a situation like that, feel sympathetic to the church people, who have been so very kind to us. So yes, we would all agree with such a request. But, the SHARE community as a whole voted against such an action because it discriminates against poor people. The other SHARE members do not stay in the camp, they are not on the front lines, they do not have any kind of friendship with the church people as we the campers do, and so their perspective is different.
The SHARE community considers the weekly sex offender checks to be discrimination, and here’s an analogy to help understand this: Imagine that you have children and a man bought a house next door to you. Would you march over there and demand that he be investigated as a sex offender? Would you then insist on him being investigated every week?
And what about the apartment complex down the street, would you march down there and demand from the manager that everyone in the complex be investigated as a sex offender? Would you submit yourself to such a request by someone else? If you are not willing to demand this from your neighbors, then why would you insist that it be done against poor people who cannot afford to live in an apartment?
TC4, by invitation, is staying at a Catholic church, which is an organization that is notorious for child molestations by its priests. Therefore, would it be wrong to demand that every priest in the church submit to a sex offender check? Would it be wrong to demand that they undergo a random weekly sex offender investigation?
And what about the congregation, which would be an ideal place for a pedophile to lurk, would it be wrong for the entire congregation to undergo a sex offender check and then be checked randomly on a weekly basis? If the Catholic church refuses to exact this on themselves then why are they demanding this from poor people who are barely surviving day-by-day living in a tent? Is this not hypocritical? It is highly unlikely that any Catholic parishioner has ever undergone a warrant and sex offender check, but if anyone wants to enter into TC4 then they are required to submit to these.
Weekly sex offender checks are a discrimination against the poor, implying that poor people are potential sex offenders. I am greatly offended by such an accusation! I am not willing to accept and wear that label! I will not wear that label and pass it on to some other homeless person who should come after me! I will stand and fight against it.
I have no criminal record at the age of 50 and I have absolutely no intention of beginning one any time in the future. We at TC4 did nothing wrong, and it is wrong to accuse us of being a danger to our society just because we are poor.
The campers who left TC4 and started Camp Unity used the fear and hatred of homeless people that is so prevalent in our society to gain their own sympathetic advantage within the community. This world is full of such people who attack, belittle, put down and destroy the integrity of someone who is better than they are in order to make themselves look superior in the eyes of others, so as to then manipulate them into thinking like them.
And this is exactly what the souls at Camp Unity did, in order to start and fund their own special little encampment that has no accountability. Only the best of TC4 remained with the camp – the strong and courageous – to keep it going for other homeless people who follow and need an honest and safe place to stay. As for myself, and the others in TC4, we will stand in what little we have, our integrity, and oppose the proud people of this world who use their fear and hatred of poverty as weapons against poor people.
Brian Williams, TC4 resident