Vandalism estimated at $100,000 was the last straw for a Seattle-area underprivileged kids soccer league shutting down amid concerns over a nearby homeless encampment.
“Lawless individuals know that this is just a free zone to do whatever you want.”
Running an array of programs from competitive to recreational for kids of all ages and abilities, Valor Soccer’s stated mission since it was founded in 2019 has been “to provide quality and affordable soccer programming to the youth of our community.”
Last week, after discovering the field at North Green River Park in King County, Washington had been torn up by a driver, believed to have originated from a homeless encampment just up the road, an exasperated Dean Aldridge, CEO of Valor, blasted “soft-on-crime” policies from officials like King County Executive Dow Constantine.
“I think Dow needs to get off his a**.”
Speaking with Jonathan Choe, senior fellow of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, Aldridge explained the deteriorating conditions on and around the field with the estimated $100,000 worth of damage simply being the latest in a long line of problems that brought their season to an abrupt end as they plan to relocate.
“We’re a nonprofit — we don’t have enough money to recoup these kinds of losses,” explained the CEO. “I don’t know how you recover from something like this.”
#BREAKING: Valor Soccer(@ValorSoccerUSA) is officially canceling it’s season and leaving North Green River Park because of all the crime plaguing the area. Officials say the entire field was vandalized early Wednesday morning, leaving more than $100K in damage.
This field in… pic.twitter.com/YU0rIV7N12
— Jonathan Choe Journalist (Seattle) (@choeshow) October 20, 2023
“These are our most economically challenged kids,” he went on to lament while surveying the gouges in the turf from tire tracks. “What human being does this?”
A walk along the road where the homeless encampment was set up, said to be within 100 meters of the field, showed refuse scattered into the woods that, like the broken windows theory, represented an invitation for bad actors to feel welcome in the area.
“Gangs [have been] moving in ever since COVID,” Aldridge suggested. “Lawless individuals know that this is just a free zone to do whatever you want. Come down here, shoot your guns, dump your garbage.”
Corroborating his views, Choe reported that the King’s County Sheriff’s Office acknowledged that 911 calls in the area had been “off the charts.”
Despite the reality, Aldridge complained, “King County won’t enforce the laws, Kent won’t enforce the laws, Auburn won’t enforce the laws — no one’s taking ownership.”
“If it was his kids down here playing, or his grandchildren down here playing,” the CEO said of Constantine, “I’m sure it would be cleaned up.”
After filing a number of complaints to the executive’s office, he indicated, “I have not heard from Dow, I have not heard from his office.”
In addition to local-level problems, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) actions to handle the homeless crisis had been documented as costly failures that left him crying for more funds after a $143 million relocation plan reportedly moved fewer than 1,000 people.
Washington recorded the fourth-largest homeless population in the country for 2022 after California, New York and Florida, and the soccer CEO’s complaints came on the heels of a Household Pulse survey that found Seattle had the largest number of people moving over safety concerns.
Reacting to Choe’s report, one individual commented, “Sad for those kids. Sad for all of us. This whole region just continues to go downhill.”
Sad for those kids. Sad for all of us. This whole region just continues to go downhill.
— Ron Franklin (@RonaldBFranklin) October 20, 2023
Elected officials- this is a reflection of how well you do your job and give a crap to the people and communities you represent. Realize they can’t make changes alone, but sitting on their hands on this is failure to even try
— Carrots (@Christine6929) October 20, 2023
This is just sad. Kids deserve a place to play and be safe. Marginalized kids are at the highest risk of joining a gang or engaging in criminal activities out of boredom and not having leadership. It is really detrimental when after school activities get put at risk.
— Autumn Reyes (Joan of Arc) (@EmperorRiddick) October 20, 2023
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