An epicenter of violence in Seattle has gotten so bad, the sheriff is telling employees to work from home
SEATTLE, Wash - As a journalist, you never want to make the story about yourself, but what happened to Q13 News reporter Hana Kim on Wednesday outside the King County Courthouse is relevant to the story she was assigned to cover.
"Along 4th Ave. in broad daylight, I was interviewing a judge about safety concerns when some guy inches away threw an object at me very hard. Several people witnessed the incident. Not to mention, the man had to walk by two law enforcement officers before he chose to chuck the object at me. It is unclear if the officers saw the entire ordeal," Hana shared.
What happened to Hana was minor compared to what many others have had to deal with day in and day out.
"It is getting ridiculous. I grew up in Colombia and I did not experience in Bogota in the 80’s what I’m experiencing now in Seattle," Judge Mafe Rajul said.
Those words were said before Rajul witnessed the man hurl an item at Hana Kim.
After last week’s attempted rape inside a courthouse restroom, safety concerns have reached a fever pitch.
So much so that King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, who has an office in the courthouse, told employees that they need to work from home. She said effective immediately, anyone not routinely interacting with the public needs to telework.
RELATED: Councilmember calls for King County Courthouse to be closed to public after attempted sexual assault
"I was shocked when I saw that letter because this is law enforcement, it’s the King County Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement telling employees it’s too unsafe and dangerous for you to come here," Rajul said.
In Hana Kim's case, the object thrown at her was a piece of cauliflower. Kim says it was thrown so hard that she felt a sharp pain in her back. She was relieved it wasn't something like a rock.
Courthouse employees say much of the problem is stemming from a homeless encampment at City Hall Park right next to the courthouse.
"It’s not that these people don’t have a place to live. It’s beyond that. It's criminal activity," Rajul said.
Rajul says she’s had to run for her safety several times. She says there have been stabbings, human trafficking and drug deals going on at the encampment.
She is worried about her bailiffs and jurors who are told to come to a stretch of downtown Seattle that they know are not safe.
"I’ve often been followed to and from the courthouse. I’ve been harassed. I’ve been yelled at," King County Prosecutor Darrah Hinton said.
"City council and the mayor’s office-- they don’t care about the safety. They don’t care about the safety. Their focus is homelessness and they completely ignore the violence, the crime, the safety," Rajul said.
The Mayor’s Office told Q13 News on Wednesday that they do agree that the encampment is a significant safety issue. They say since July, they have been reaching out to the people who live there.
They are hoping to offer people enhanced shelter or hotel rooms before they clear the park.
Meanwhile, the King County Prosecutor’s Office will be holding an unusual event on Friday: a protest outside the courthouse to bring awareness to the safety concerns caused by the encampment at City Hall Park.
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