Press Release for March 1st, 2013
Re: OMJP (Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace) organizes in response to the homeless crisis—hosts a Homeless Solidarity Rally & Community Pizza Party, builds an emergency shelter, and installs Olympia’s only 24 hour public restroom at the downtown artesian well.
Attention! Our community is in crisis and the Mayor of Olympia has insisted that we not let it go to waste.
On March 1st the Sacred Heart and Saint Michael’s men’s shelters closed for the season. The county-funded cold weather shelter at the Salvation Army is only sporadically open at best, and it too will soon be closed. Though shelter is a human right, there are hundreds of unsheltered houseless people in Thurston County. In response to this crisis, we have constructed an emergency shelter and installed Olympia’s only 24-hour public restroom at the downtown artesian well. It is our intention to maintain these facilities as a service to the community until an adequate alternative can be arranged.
Furthermore, we draw attention to the fact that in January of this year, the Olympia City Council, with the sole exception of council member Jim Cooper, voted in favor of a reactionary ordinance which banned camping and camping related paraphernalia such as blankets from all city-owned public property. The criminalization of homelessness is a national worst-practice model which negatively impacts not only homeless persons, but also service providers, the criminal justice system, and the broader community. Olympia’s anti-homeless ordinances violate standards of fairness and raise moral questions about community values, priorities, and social and economic justice. They dehumanize the homeless, damage their health, and create even greater barriers to housing. These ordinances are a threat to the general health of the Olympia community and must be repealed.