In all the commotion and live-streaming and sit-in demonstrations Just Housing organized for 24/7 public restrooms downtown last weekend, let’s not forget the five people of conscience who were arrested for the crime of sitting in public restrooms (aka “criminal trespass first degree”).
- Tyler Gundel(“Tye”), outreach worker
- Walker Stephens, Ho Ho Hobos wreath stand
- S, shelter staff
- Uriah Watkins, activist
I commend their courage and commitment to what should be a basic right and dignity for all.
The state has locked the bathrooms (all day/night) in response to the protests—a clear act of state violence that punishes the most marginalized and making it much more difficult to pee/poop safely and hygienically.
The Washington State Patrol embarrassed by its over-the-top response, has peppered the media with shameful lies that protesters somehow locked police in the restrooms even though we didn’t have keys. Video clearly shows the officers locking themselves in the restroom to separate the sit-in demonstrators from the dozens of supporters outside.
We are in the right and we have the high ground.
Department of Enterprise Services says the bathrooms will open by the end of this week. They’ve also said to give them two weeks to figure out a workable solution with the city for overnight access.
I personally am going to allow them those two weeks. If they’re not open, I trust in the wisdom of this community to know what to do, as long as we remain centered on the voices, needs, and experiences of our neighbors living homeless in the here and now.
If it works, our activists will then have done more for 24/7 public restrooms in one weekend that city/state/business officials have been able to accomplish after four years of runaround conversation and meetings.
And in the end, that’s what this action is about: 24/7 public restrooms asap.
This is how change happens—scary, messy, and beautiful.
Thanks again to the brave arrestees for their examples of courage.