Over 100 Chinatown-International District residents in Seattle were met by unhoused counter-protesters at a rally in protest of the proposed “homeless megaplex” plan in the neighborhood earlier this week.
The Chinatown-International District residents marched down the street in Seattle’s Hing Hay Park to the King County Council meeting before noon on Tuesday in protest of the proposed $54 million plan to build a shelter – which they refer to as a “homeless megaplex” – for unhoused people.
Gei Chan, one of the group leaders, noted that their protest was not against unhoused people. Rather, it was meant to voice their concerns regarding the security of their community.
“So it’s not at all against homeless [people]. I know some people are trying to paint it that way, but it’s not,” Chan told KIRO7. “Everybody here is just asking, can the city, can the county, can [the] government take care of us?”
During the rally, some of the
residents were confronted by unhoused counter-protesters who voiced their support for the proposed megaplex. In a video posted by Seattle reporter Jonathan Choe on Twitter on Wednesday, one man can be seen walking up to the residents and telling them, “I’m not a criminal. Why shouldn’t I live here?”
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The man in the video then repeatedly proclaims, “Stop selling them heroin.”
Tension rose at the protest, as seen in another video posted by Choe, who has been covering the area’s homelessness crisis for months. In Choe’s video, a woman suddenly tells the resident protesters, “Go back to your country.”
The man recording the video then tells the woman, “They’re Americans,” to which she says, “Sure they are.”
On May 3, King County Council reportedly approved a nearly seven-acre lease across Uwajimaya Asian Supermarket, where the megaplex will be located. The proposed 500-person shelter will reportedly replace the one run by the Salvation Army on Sixth Avenue. Chan said Chinatown-International District residents were left in the dark about the council’s decision and “only found out a few weeks ago, and they’re really upset.”
“Why don’t you build the megaplex near you guys and you guys can see what we have actually been going through for almost two years?” one of the protesters said at the Tuesday rally. “Again, I’m here supporting Miss Kay and all the students because again, we have children, we want to have passions just like you guys, but at the same time if we’re being stopped because you guys decided to build this megaplex, and don’t give us a chance to actually have a voice, where do we stand?”
Around 60 people reportedly registered to speak at the county council meeting on Tuesday, with comments directed at Democratic councilmember Joe McDermott. While McDermott refused to talk to the media, his office reportedly sent a statement to KIRO7, explaining in part that the “CID (Chinatown-International District) deserves safety and security so that the community can thrive.”
“We’ve also seen an exponential increase in unhoused individuals in the same stretch of time, and these individuals deserve the most robust support we can offer, as a community and region, to be housed, stable and secure,” he wrote.
Dozens of protesters organized a march last week at Seattle City Hall to condemn the construction of the megaplex.