War Comes to the Small Screen

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine feels like an altogether new phase of social media in warfare. Maybe it’s the verbs which adorn those buttons: Like. Share. Donate. Block. They invite us in, and whisper: “Decide.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has marked a turning point for the use of social media in war.

To be sure, this is far from the first conflict in which social media plays a key role. The “Arab Spring” of 2010-2011 likely gets that distinction, when hundreds of thousands of citizens in Arab-speaking nations networked their common cause on Facebook and elsewhere and rose up in democratic protests against their governments. Then, later in that decade, social media played a key role conveying the gripping stories of the more conventional conflicts of Syria and Afghanistan. By the 2010’s, in our own battle against Islamic extremism, social media featured prominently in recruitment, terror, propaganda, and victory.

From the Arab Spring of 2010 to today, social media’s membership has soared, from “just” tens of millions of people to now nearly 5 of the 8 billion people on earth. Today’s pervasive use of social media in Ukraine conflict feels much bigger in scope, and there’s something new. The stakes — war in Europe and potential for World War III — are higher. But what also seems new is that this time, this conflict already seems far more participatory, involving broad segments of society.

We see the besieged and attackers. We see soldiers, citizens, political and corporate leaders, journalists, corporate brands, celebrities and governments, who all have something to say. We see partisans in the fight flock to “user generated content” platforms, from Github to Yelp to Google Maps. Every social product of any size now needs a wartime strategy.

The Washington Post catalogued many examples of Ukranians using social media to tell remarkable stories, from the everyday citizen moving a personnel mine to a safe location to an elderly gentleman kneeling before a Russian tank. But Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are no longer just storytelling apps, and the events shaking eastern Europe are not read-only. In many ways, they are calls to us for our interaction and engagement. We are not yet, thank God, at World War, but in a profound way, all five billion of us on social media are being invited in.

There are buttons with verbs in social media. Share. Donate. Like. Retweet. Protest. Organize. Support. Report. Mute. Share. Reject. Block. Social media enables all of this from afar. These verbs also whisper to us, ever so quietly: Decide.

And decide we must, because to simply scroll on feels heartless. In the twentieth century, the abominable concept of “Total War” declared civilians and associated resources as legitimate targets. In the era of social media, we citizens seem not just collateral damage, but the door opens to being collateral participants. Do we walk through it?

Governments have shut airspaces down, but not cyberspace. If you are so inclined, you can engage directly with Russian citizens in many corners of the Internet – sites like duolingo and Interpals still offer the ability to chat with Russian-speakers. It boggles my mind that Russia can be firing missiles into Ukraine, and we in the West can be taking unprecedented, aggressive actions which risk cratering their economy, but we can still engage with the citizenry if we’d like, whenever we’d like.

Unlike even twenty years ago, social media now gives us the means to actually “participate”, at some level, from across the globe, not just to register our support, but to do something related to its outcome.

Wartime communication comes in many forms. There are secret tactical and strategic communications among combatants and allies. There’s propaganda, meant to promote a particular cause or point of view. There are morale-boosting missives and stories from the front to the population. There are psychological operations (“psyops”) waged against the enemy. There’s high-level diplomacy. There’s logistics and production planning. And there’s journalism and documentation for posterity.

Today, social media touches all of these forms, and profoundly changes many of them. That’s because social media has many attributes other media does not: it is global, instantaneous, emotional, participatory, and many-to-many.

We’ve already witnessed a few groundbreaking examples of how these attributes have transformed wartime communication.

Social Media Is Global.

Do you want to contribute to the defense of Ukraine without donning a uniform? There are a variety of non-governmental organizations to which you can donate. But brand new for 2022, the official Ukrainian government Twitter account (@ukraine) has a Bitcoin donation link pinned to its profile:

Yes, that’s right. With a few clicks, you can instantly donate money directly to the government of Ukraine. So long, allied war bonds, or even waiting for your own government to send more aid. Supporting a war effort is now as easy as adding an extra 20% tip at Starbucks.

Or do you want to interact with your adversaries more directly, to try to better understand or inform them, cyber-harass them, or attempt to boot them from a given platform? Hacktivist group Anonymous is encouraging people to write reviews of Russian-based businesses and restaurants to convey messages to the people of Russia, to try to get around state-media control.

Are your desires more juvenile? A TikTok video encourages you to go to Google Maps and re-label Russia’s official embassies as “public toilets.” UPDATE: Google has placed restrictions on this activity:

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And pro-Russian activists are currently brigading one of the most popular open source code repositories on GitHub: Facebook’s open source React framework. They’re posting pro-Russia messages.

The point: this is a war involving not just combatants in Ukraine, but those of us in the crowd. Every social product of any scale now needs a wartime strategy.

Social Media is Emotional, Ubiquitous and Instantaneous.

Ukraine’s citizens and leaders are sharing heartbreaking videos directly to us on Instagram and Twitter. They’re telling the stories of heroes and victims, crying out for our help.

These direct video pleas are a far cry from how many of us digested international conflicts decades ago: they’re not just an international interest segment tacked onto a nightly newscast. The pleas are integrated into our daily lives as we scroll through our feeds. These are the compelling stories of 43 million Ukrainians, many of whom speak English. They want and need us involved.

We can also watch things unfold as never before. Heard about the 40-mile long Russian convoy lumbering toward Kyiv? We can follow along via a street-level view via Google Maps. Want to watch what’s happening live, via dozens of webcams? There’s a website for that.

Humans are a story-telling species. Wartime communication used to rely heavily upon correspondents, filmmakers, military journalists, radio personalities and famed directors to get the battlefield news to an audience. Now, they are relegated to editorial and summary roles. If you want the very latest information, you rush to Twitter; the nightly newscast operates on a more glacial pace by comparison. Even television journalists now spend a great deal of time highlighting what’s being reported on social media.

In World War II, the process of getting video footage to the home front took months. Hollywood director John Ford traveled to Midway Island in early June 1942 with two cameramen. Two days later, on June 4, 1942, they filmed the first wave of Japanese Zeros as they strafed the island. After the battle, Ford sent the film back to the States, which was developed and hastily edited into a theatrical documentary with voiceover. The result: film of a battle shown in record time to a home-front audience, a mere three and a half months after the first bullets of the Battle of Midway were fired.

Today, not only is storytelling instantaneous, it’s also much more intimate and direct. There’s usually no director. Anyone with a cellphone can tell their own story, and often doing so is more compelling, but fraught with risk of forgery.

In the attention economy, the scarcest resource is our consideration, that which what we pay heed to. Nuance takes longer. So quick, shocking, humorous or heartbreaking memes are often what break through.

We’re getting selfie videos directly from the Prime Minister of Ukraine, via the small screen in our pockets. It’s available everywhere, not just when we’re ready for it. We can be in line at the grocery store checkout, and hear the breaks in his voice through our AirPods. At any time, and at any moment, we can be witness to his steadfast bravery; it’s integrated into our day.

Zelensky is marshaling this breakthrough power capably and creatively. A week ago, he broadcast a powerful speech directly to the Russian people, circumventing journalist intermediaries. With more than 114 million Russians on the Internet, plus the many who were willing to translate, caption and redistribute, the whole world received his message within hours.

To a global audience that has Zoomed its way through the past two years, being able to see the human side of a leader in a war-torn nation speak out through our small screens feels at once both entirely natural, but also surreal. It is often unedited and raw. It is profoundly new.

Zelensky is extremely well-suited to this role. Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky is a former entertainer, voice actor and comedian. He was the voice of the Ukraine version of Paddington Bear. He’s charismatic, his cause is clearly just, and he knows how to speak to the camera. His use of Twitter (where he has 4.3 million followers) and Instagram (where he has 13.7 million followers) has been masterful. We see Zelensky making human, passionate pleas, often arm in arm with compatriots. His warmth and humanity come through clearly to millions.

Opposing him, we see Vladimir Putin, a vestige of the nightly broadcast, state television world. He gazes sternly from one end of his 20-foot long gold accented table, bunkered deep in the Urals. He’s formal, rigid, isolated and distant. His mannerisms and demeanor might have been well-suited to the fixed-format communications of the 1980’s, where projecting power and formality spoke volumes. But now he seems anachronistic. He leads a superpower, but gets an F for 2020’s era social media presence to billions of people who value authenticity, warmth and story.

Photos: Putin keeps his distance during meetings

With every communication, the people of Ukraine are saying “we are here, on our land, in our homes, and an invader is trying to take it from us brutally.” Their message cc:’s the world. Messages go out to allies and foes alike. Citizens and leaders of Russia and Belarus are watching.

Russia, meanwhile, is going through its own transformation of media consumption. State television’s former dominance of news is slipping, and the information divide highly age-weighted. Older citizens are much more likely to still pay attention to state television. But the young are much more likely to use the Internet and social media.

The outcome? Note the average age in this photograph from Wednesday’s anti-war protests in St. Petersberg Russia:

It’s Many-to-Many

Over the weekend, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation Mykhailo Federov reached out directly to Elon Musk to request Starlink (satellite-delivered Internet) terminals from SpaceX, so that his government — and presumably military and resistance groups — would be able to communicate in the likely event of widespread communications outages.

Federov wrote, “While you try to colonize Mars – Russia try to occupy Ukraine!” on February 26th. Within hours, from halfway across the planet, Elon Musk responded: “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.”

And then, as if ordered up via Amazon, a planeload of Starlink terminals arrived on the other side of the world two days later. Monday, a grateful Federov tweeted:

Ukraine has thousands of celebrities, corporate leaders and heads of state at their disposal. In short, while Russia has military might, Ukraine has the attention and willing participation of the biggest stars of the attention economy.

Today, all 4.8 billion of us on social media can be both a broadcaster and a receiver. Social media can help a single leader rally a nation, much like broadcast TV. But what’s new is that it’s the first-time senior government officials have been able to directly and publicly call out to key resource-owners in civilian life for critical things and seen them instantly delivered. Even if they’re across the globe.

At this writing, Ukraine may be headed for a long insurgency. And as they need resources, officials and guerilla leaders won’t need someone to find the phone number of some official. They can merely make these requests publicly. It’s not only much faster. It has the added advantage of securing a near-instant affirmative.

Here are some other noteworthy things crossing my social media feed:

Perils and Risks

We’ve already seen social media being used for “astro-turfing,” disinformation, and forgeries in this war. One of the major shortcomings of social media is that consensus can masquerade as truth. And it is likely to get far worse, since deep fake technology makes forgeries much more convincing. Given that this may well become a protracted occupation and insurgency, expect far more psychological operations via social media as Russia attempts to convince the public of the righteousness of its cause.

Early Days

All of this is playing out less than two decades since social media as we know it began. Facebook was founded just eighteen years ago, and Twitter sixteen. What’s ahead is even more acceleration and interconnection — and security risks, forgeries and more. It makes me wonder about how this technology might have shaped prior wars. The colonists had no way to reach the King of England or France or powerful potential benefactors during our own Revolution. Would history have turned out differently if they did?

Even contemporary revolutions in wartime communication seem quant by comparison. Many of us remember the moment thirty one years ago when CNN’s Peter Arnett stood atop buildings in Baghdad and broadcast the first live television coverage of the United States’ opening salvo in Operation Desert Storm, and ushering in a new era in 24×7 cable news. We watched in real-time as the bombs dropped, and saw a major invasion take place via our television sets. But we couldn’t influence its outcome; we were fully bystanders. Broadcasters could infer our engagement, but they couldn’t discern it story by story. And but for taxes and care packages, we certainly couldn’t join in to the degree we can today.

The opportunities and perils that social media presents during the Russia-Ukraine conflict feel like an even greater leap than that which thrust 24×7 cable news to prominence. This isn’t the very first conflict of the social media age, but is altogether new: it is pervasive, at massive scale, and participatory.

Seattle’s Grand Rock-Throwing Experiment: Will Our Actual Virtue Exceed Our Desire to Signal It?

If you wanted to design a real-life test to figure out if a civic leader’s actual virtue exceeds their desire to signal it, you could hardly do better than the life-and-death experiment playing out on I-5 right now.

If you wanted to design a real-life test to determine if a civic leader’s actual virtue exceeds their desire to signal it, you could hardly do better than the life-and-death experiment playing out on Interstate Highways 5 and 90 in Seattle right now.

So far, our desire to signal virtue is winning.

UPDATE, July 22 2021: Brandi Kruse and others are reporting that two encampments near I-90 are being cleared today, after more than four months of rock and debris-throwing reports.

180+ Rock Throwing Incidents in 2021

At this writing, there are now more than 180 rock or debris-throwing incidents in 2021 alone. Most, but not all, are at or near the I-5/I-90 crossover. There are four or five per day, for the past four days.

Think of that: every single day, 5 bricks, rocks or chunks of concrete are tossed onto a 60mph+ freeway.

The uncomfortable reality is that most if not all of these incidents have been traced to homeless encampments adjacent to our highways. Rock-throwing wasn’t happening ten years ago — or perhaps more accurately, if it ever was, it was an isolated incident or two, not five per day. These rocks aren’t just randomly appearing.

And it’s not just one individual:

Someone Is Going To Get Seriously Hurt or Killed

I haven’t calculated the precise odds of death or life-altering injury with five randomly tossed concrete shards, rocks or bricks onto a 60mph+ freeway over every 24 hour period. But the odds of loss of life (or life-altering injury) has got to be a better-than 50/50 bet over the course of a month, don’t you think?

Honestly. It is only a matter of time before one or more innocent people get killed. It’s miraculous that no one thus far has.

Until leaders act, the question is: who will it be? If you drive on I-5 or I-90 near Seattle, you’re in the deadly lottery.

How Are We Letting This Happen?

You rightly ask: How can we let this happen? Why can’t we say “This is not acceptable,” and enforce the law? Numerous “brush fires” stemming from encampment along the highway are one thing, but now rocks? Why do we allow unsanctioned encampments adjacent to major freeways, yet prevent unauthorized encampment in state parks?

The reality is, there’s a conflict-avoidant tendency in Seattle’s municipal leadership. It’s far less costly to simply go along with the fiction that these unsanctioned encampments pose little safety risk and that allowing them to set up wherever they’d like on public property is the “compassionate” thing to do.

The issue of encampment “sweeps” has been an enormously contentious one in Seattle for the past eight years or so. And activists have, for now, forced city officials to press the “pause” button.

Yet the preamble of the Seattle City Charter is clear. The purpose of a city government is first and foremost to protect and enhance the health, safety, environment and general welfare of the people. In fact these goals are the very reason for the City and its laws:

Who’s In Charge?

Shouldn’t there be a city-coordinated group that helps remove or relocate encampments when they pose a clear risk to public safety, offering shelter and services, but also saying “no, you cannot stay here?” There used to be such a team. But first, a few words about its origin.

Encampment Removal Pre-2016: Disorganized, Miscommunication

Before the existence of the Navigation Team, the City was involved in mandatory encampment removals, but often with little coordination, advanced warning, safety for encampment residents, or clear ownership.

In January 2016, Seattle City Council held a briefing on sweeps of unauthorized tent encampments. If you follow this thread from the Seattle Times’ David Beekman, you’ll see that Kshama Sawant, Lisa Herbold, and Lorena Gonzalez all expressed strong concerns about sweeps of unauthorized encampments:

The January 2016 Council briefing on unauthorized encampment removals is here:

Among other things mandated was a specific multi-department administrative rule (MDAR) laying out some basic precepts for unsanctioned encampment removal:

Over the ensuing months, Mayor Ed Murray acknowledged ongoing coordination problems, and wrote the following to City Council, saying specifically “I believe that people should not be living in areas that are an imminent threat to their own health and safety or that of the public”:

In August 2016, Mike Baker of The Seattle Times wrote about the flawed and disorganized results when there’s no coordination between service providers and law enforcement.

Baker’s article is here: “Chaos, trash and tears: Inside Seattle’s flawed homeless sweeps

October 2016: “The Jungle”

In October 2016, the City of Seattle moved ahead and cleared an area under I-5 commonly known as “The Jungle”:

“Amid loud chants from protesters, city and state officials began clearing out a Seattle homeless encampment known as ‘The Jungle’ Tuesday. The camp is notorious for multiple cases of criminal activity and drug use. The homeless still living in The Jungle were warned they needed to leave the area under Interstate 5 by 8 a.m. Tuesday. Officials say 13 people were still there as of early Tuesday morning, down from over 350 people last year. And those 13 were still not ready to go.”

KING 5 News, October 11 2016

Concerns about lack of coordination, a desire to establish more humane approaches and clear ownership drove the formation of the Navigation Team in November 2017, which combined outreach service providers and law enforcement to help better coordinate these efforts.

What was the Navigation Team? How Did It Work?

Seattle’s short-lived “Navigation Team,” a combined team of outreach service providers and law enforcement, was established in Feburary 2017. It was the brainchild of Scott Lindsay, Mayor Ed Murray’s Public Safety Advisor.

The Nav Team was a combined group of service providers (i.e., shelter and service providers) and police officers who would make contact with an encampment posing a hazard risk.

Seattle’s Navigation Team Structure, from the 2018 Audit of the Navigation Team

They would go the encampment which was deemed by the Executive Branch (Mayor’s office) to be a public safety risk, several days ahead of time, make contact, and warn them they cannot stay, offering shelter and service referrals. Then a couple days before. Then day of.

Feb 2017- Aug 2020

The Navigation Team used to do the difficult but important work of clearing unsanctioned encampments when they posed a clear hazard to public health or safety.

From the moment it started, the Nav Team ran into constant opposition from outspoken Councilmember Kshama Sawant, amplified by Seattle’s cadre of activist-journalists, as well as Seattle’s leftmost Twitterati. You can search Twitter for #stopthesweeps Seattle to get an idea of who holds such a view; it includes the Seattle Democratic Socialists Alliance and several highly-followed Twitter users.

Legislatively, from 2017-2019, Kshama Sawant worked hard to defund this team and end its work, both rhetorically and through proposed bills. In November 2019, a bill to fully defund the team and reallocate its 30+ members was considered and rejected by City Council’s Budget Committee. That was put forward by Sawant, but failed to get a second, and never made it out of committee.

During this period from 2017-2020, Council members became increasingly hostile to ever clearing designated unsanctioned encampments (often shorthanded as “sweeps”) of any kind. Kshama Sawant led this messaging, but by August 2020, Councilmembers like Teresa Mosqueda and Council President Lorena Gonzalez joined right in.

“Stop The Sweeps” Gains Momentum, 2017-2020

Socialist Alternative (Kshama Sawant’s political party) has been in the vanguard of the “Stop The Sweeps” movement. In 2017, their calls to end sweeps grew ever louder (“Stop the Sweeps! Nov. 1 Camp Out at Seattle City Hall“, SocialistAlternative.org)

There’s a Facebook group and Twitter group — Stop The Sweeps Seattle with over 3,500 members. They argue that (a) housing is a human right, and (b) forced displacement with a lack of adequate housing is inhumane. The most prominent Seattle politician aligning with these views is Councilmember Kshama Sawant:

From about 2018-2020, Council was ever-more captured by the message from the “stop the sweeps!” activist voices. Yet it wasn’t prepared to bring an end to these sweeps.

This all changed with the eruption of the George Floyd police brutality protests of June 2020. Activists finally had the anti-police momentum they needed.

On August 5th 2020, Seattle’s City Council defunded the Navigation Team. On that date, Council first voted unanimously to remove police from the Navigation Team, and then split 5-4 on a second vote to fully defund this team.

From a practical standpoint, the first vote to unanimously remove Seattle’s Police Department from these outreach teams ensured its demise, because — at least to hear the Navigation Team’s defenders in law enforcement say it — several service providers privately expressed an entirely reasonable desire to have law enforcement protection in the vicinity during these encounters.

The first unanimous vote to remove SPD from the Navigation Team undermines its efforts, for the same reason captured in Abraham Lincoln’s famous quotation that “Laws without enforcement are just… good advice.”

If well-meaning service providers and volunteers won’t reach out to unsanctioned encampments without law enforcement, if any who are encamped don’t voluntarily move on, the public hazard represented will not effectively change.

Activists declared the Navigation Team’s “sweeps” the “stealing of campers’ property!” and “uncompassionate!”, and vilified the city for doing it.

Rarely would they consider any needs of those to whom the encampments posed safety risks; these demands were pretty much exclusively from the campers’ points of view.

Yet less than a year later, in the wake of the George Floyd Protests, CHOP/CHAZ the opportunity presented itself. Lorena Gonzalez, Lisa Herbold and Teresa Mosqueda all jumped aboard. Eventually “Defund The Police by 50%” was supported by 7 of 9 Council members — all but Debra Juarez and Alex Pedersen.

And the Navigation Team was fully eliminated by City Council, in two votes, on August 5th, 2020.

So we have come full-circle, back to pre-Navigation Team days. What did that look like?

Summer 2021: Buck-Passing Ensues, Preceding the Inevitable Finger-Pointing To Come.

Seattle journalist Brandi Kruse asked Mayor Jenny Durkan about the rock-throwing on Tuesday. Mayor Durkan says it’s Washington State Department of Transportation’s responsibility:

Today, the finger-pointing continues. The Mayor points to Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), who points back to the City of Seattle, who points to…

When someone gets seriously injured or even dies, we will return to this conversation. Do you expect any civic leader, at that time, to accept responsibility?

Mine isn’t the universal take, of course. Publicola’s Erica C. Barnett, who enjoys a much bigger platform than I do, suggests that encampment-clearing-due-to-many-violations of a few residents is somehow a double-standard:

Rocks Aren’t The Only Hazard of Freeway-Adjacent Living

I haven’t even detailed the risk posed by fires. Just one example: about a year ago, my daughter and I passed within feet of this raging fire on I-5 underneath 6th Avenue and the Convention Center:

Fire near Washington State Convention Center on I-5, in the Southbound lane near the James St. exit. Photo was taken by another Seattleite around the same time my daughter and I passed in our car. (I-5 Highway in foreground)

We drove within feet of this fire, at 40-50mph, right around the time this photo was taken by a viewer from above. The fire trucks hadn’t yet arrived. My daughter and I could feel the searing heat through the closed car window.

Are fires like this, underneath and adjacent to a freeway, acceptable risks for people and infrastructure? Are they acceptable for the environment?

City Council and the Mayor are saying: yes, the are. Who are the compassionate ones again?

Civic Virtue, vs. Our Desire to Signal It

This is a deadly experiment.

Not even life-or-death consequences for innocent motorists traveling the I-5/I-90 corridors appear enough to cause leaders to brave the tweets. The tweets will have name-calling. Kshama Sawant and others will take to a microphone.

The sad reality for us 724,000+ Seattleites is that City Council and the Mayor remain captured by a very loud, but comparatively small, group of activists who decide the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

The consequences of a policy that says NO sweeps, zero, is this, plus encampment fires on the highway, and a whole lot more.

Ask any motorist. Related, ask any parent with a kid at Broadview-Thomson K-8 Elementary School, but that’s a story for another day.

Finally, a corollary question: Throwing rocks at cars on 60mph+ freeways? Who does this?

At some point, can we do away with the fiction which says that 100% of people experiencing homelessness are just down on their luck Seattleites who are simply short a rent payment? And no, OF COURSE this doesn’t mean these demonstrably dangerous and unstable rock-throwers are representative of all, or even a majority of those encamped. But by the same token, stop gaslighting the public. Please don’t lecture us that all are fine individuals, either. They’re not all well. Many need serious help. Several, like one arrested for rock-throwing on July 21st, are repeat offenders (he’s a 41 year old male who had 18 prior warrants.) We cannot allow unsanctioned encampments; it’s far better to centralize services at various camps and encourage third-party service providers to use an information system to track touchpoints for those in need. Mental illness and addiction are clearly problems which need addressing, and there are very real public safety and health risks for us all, that better policies could improve.

We all have a stake, and we need not all endure much more compromised safety because of overly permissive encampment locations/policies.

Watch the dashcam video:

Summon the Actual Virtue.

It’s time for civic leaders to act. Not point fingers. People are going to die, or be seriously injured, entirely optionally.

If The Navigation Team was indeed a failure, I’d like to understand how, so that we might re-establish its successor. It is a painful reality, but there are times when “no, you cannot stay here” is the only sensible conclusion for the City Charter’s clear call to enhance public welfare, health and safety. Sometimes those encamped refuse shelter alternatives. Then what? What’s your plan?

There are multiple stakeholders in a city, not just those encamped. The Navigation Team’s mission was not just to serve individuals experiencing homelessness with compassionate options, but also to help remove clear hazards to the safety or health of the surrounding community. All 724,000+ deserve a reasonable expectation of safety; that’s the City’s first job. Don’t listen just to activists — summon the courage. Stop passing the buck.

If you asked us, I bet most of the 724,000+ Seattleites would say it’s time for leaders to remove the highway-adjacent encampments where these rock-throwers are staying. One or more motorists will die, or have serious life-altering injuries if we do nothing.

Finally as a city, in our civic dialogue, we have to find opportunities to tone down the volume, and meet in the middle. It’s OK to acknowledge the Navigation Team was less than ideal, that there are even more compassionate changes that could be made, short of abolishing it altogether. There are real, and very SERIOUS mental health and addiction issues that we have to be able discuss and provide a plan for without mischaracterization and without vilification. When was the last City Council meeting focused on mental health services or addiction?

July 21: Two encampments are being cleared, according to King 5 and Q13 News.