A little league in Seattle, Washington, said it is no longer safe for kids on the ballfield due to nearby homeless encampments.
“Homeless tents are nothing new in the Ballard neighborhood, but what’s new are the threats and unsafe conditions against the kids themselves,” Q13 Fox reported Wednesday.
Mom Andrea Morrison said her concern is about the children being threatened and harassed while on the fields. Her 10-year-old son and his friends were at the Ballard Community Center field for practice recently when a homeless person allegedly verbally assaulted them.
“There is someone camped at the dugout and he comes out and starts threatening the kids,” she recalled, adding he cursed at them and also threatened to kill them.
“Now, within just the three weeks we’ve been practicing, we’ve now had four different incidents involving homeless at these fields,” Ballard Little League President Steve Reich told KIRO this week.
The little league shells out $27,000 to rent the ballfields for the year, according to the outlet.
Parents and coaches said they have been confronted on the fields, in the dugouts, and inside the bathrooms.
“The problem is the unpredictability and the chaos of someone in that situation. They’re not mentally stable, and we don’t know what they could have done,” Morrison said.
Other parents said their eleven and 12-year-old girls recently saw paramedics wheel away an unconscious, naked man.
“They found a naked gentleman outside his tent by the bathroom, and they brought him out on a stretcher and don’t know if he overdosed or passed away. But our children were exposed to it,” Reich explained.
The league has since reached out to officials including the mayor’s office, council members, and the Seattle Parks and Recreation.
In a statement to Q13, Council Member Dan Strauss said:
What is happening at Gilman Park is happening city wide and it is unacceptable – we must address homelessness by providing solutions at the scale of this crisis. I have been working with Ballard Little League and Seattle Parks Department to address the situation at Gilman Park. Citywide, we need to provide safe and adequate places for homeless individuals to come inside so our city’s great parks are able to be used as designed.
The mayor’s office told the outlet, “Encampment removals have been limited over the last year due to COVID-19, but the City believes we have to address encampments on sidewalks, playfields, and parks as we open new shelter spaces like the Executive Pacific Hotel and Kings Inn.”
Reich said frustration over the situation has grown to the point where “we have to speak out now because if our children can’t play baseball and softball in the summer in the public fields that are in their neighborhoods, then something is really, really wrong.”