Street Stories

Weblog of Seattle minister to the homeless Rick Reynolds, Operation Nightwatch

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

Caring for human beings seems like the best use of my time, homeless or not.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Seattle Homeless & Police Action

She was living in a van someone gave her out in Ballard, about 10 minutes from downtown Seattle. She might tell you she was "an aging hippie" like she told me. Her voice, her face, her hands were all mesmerizing --not beautiful but rich with the color and signs of wear.

For $4 a day she was parking in a lot on the edge of an industrial area. Friends might occasionally visit, but no problems; there "might" have been occasional marijuana, but mostly no.

One night a black van pulled up, twelve SWAT team members from the Seattle Police Department spilled out. BAM BAM BAM! Everyone (her and three friends) got out, assumed the position. The van was ransacked (nothing found).

She had two minutes to collect everything out of the van that she wanted. Everything else was impounded. No arrests were made. April 22, 2007. Won't even make the police blotter. Now a desperate woman is a little more desperate.

Lousy use of public resources if you ask me.

Meanwhile every women's shelter in the city is full and overflowing, including ours (Tonya's Room, capacity 25).

She left me with a poem: "IF" by Rudyard Kipling:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
--Rudyard Kipling

(stuck in 19th century sexist language, but the essence is there for everyone) Rick


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