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Seattle councilman criticizes plan to hose excrement off sidewalks because it's racially insensitive

A Seattle councilman objected to hosing off the sidewalks outside the King County Courthouse, claiming it was racially insensitive. (Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images)

Several judges and a sheriff who work at the King County Courthouse in Seattle have requested help with unsanitary conditions outside the courthouse, but one councilman has objected to the cleaning plan, claiming it is racially insensitive.

The blocks surrounding the King County Superior Court are home to most of Seattle's homeless shelters and social service buildings, and the sidewalks in the area emit a strong stench of urine and excrement, according to the Seattle Times. Employees at the courthouse say the area is also unsafe and that several jurors and half a dozen employees have been attacked outside the building.

Judges Laura Inveen and Jim Rogers asked the county on Tuesday for help with the area, requesting that the courthouse be cleaned with a daily power-wash to get rid of the human waste stench along with taking measures like removing bus stop benches in the area to decrease crime.

"I’ve never seen it this bad," Rogers told the Metropolitan King County Council’s committee on government accountability and oversight Tuesday morning.

Although the council did not come to a conclusion on how to reduce crime in the area, they did discuss amping up the current cleaning schedule, but not all council members were in agreement. The Times noted one councilman's head-tilting response.

Councilman Larry Gossett was concerned that power-washing the feces and urine off the sidewalk would bring back images of the civil-rights era when black civil rights activists were hosed by local authorities, though he offered no evidence to back up the concern.

Gossett's objections did not halt the cleanup process, however, and county administrative officer Caroline Whalen and the facilities manager promised an increase in cleanup of the area.

Gossett did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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