Column: Please, Gov. Jay Inslee, fence off the Jungle

Columnist Keith Schipper

It was just over a year ago when three suspects between the ages of 13 and 17 years old shot and killed two victims, and wounding three others, in the unauthorized homeless encampment on state owned property that runs alongside Interstate 5 through downtown Seattle commonly known as the “Jungle.”

The news served as a harsh reality to just how big of a problem the lawlessness of the Jungle is, and led to a legislative effort from state Senator Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, to build a $1 million barbed wire fence around the property and provide security to ensure it remains up.

Carlyle was compared to Donald Trump for his proposal by his fellow Democrats on the Seattle City Council, and ultimately the idea died in the legislature.

Now comes the latest news that girls as young as 13-years-old reportedly have been traded for sex in the Jungle.

When President Trump signed his executive order that banned immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, Governor Jay Inslee called it “cruelty” and said Trump didn’t share the same values as our state such as “compassion.”

But where is Governor Inslee’s compassion when it comes to the Jungle? What isn’t cruel about allowing sex trafficking of young girls on state property?

Inslee could shut down the Jungle today if he wanted to. He could instruct the Washington State Department of Transportation to build the fence, and could order Washington State Patrol to ensure no one is trespassing.

But Inslee isn’t, and that should infuriate us all because we are allowing victims to continue being, shot, killed, and abused on land that we own as taxpayers.

I understand the argument coming from those opposed to removing people from the Jungle, and that doing so is “unjustifiable” since they have no place to go.

I really do.

When I was 16 years old, we had to ask a member of my family to leave our home. Years earlier, they were a victim of an armed robbery that led to developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which they self-medicated with illicit drug use.

They wouldn’t get the help necessary to deal with their issues, and it created such a chaotic situation that they were no longer welcomed in our home.

They had no place to go, and since they couldn’t hold down a job, they had no money to even rent a room. The only place they could turn to was a local homeless shelter.

I felt sick with guilt that it had come to this and wondered if it was the right decision, but the results were remarkable.

They completely turned their life around.

They kicked their drug habit and learned to deal with their PTSD.

They also have worked their way up to management in a great job that allows them to do business around the world.

I’ve talked a lot with this member of my family over the years about the decision we made, and they are quick to point out that it saved their life.

Our decision reminds me of the sign that hangs in Governor Inslee’s office that says, “We can do hard things.”

What we did wasn’t easy, but it had to be done.

And it’s what needs to be done with the Jungle.

So please, Governor Inslee, show your compassion for the victims of senseless violence and sex trafficking, and fence off the Jungle. Make sure it never pops up again.

Trust me, I know it will be hard but failing to do so would be cruel.

Keith Schipper is a Washington GOP strategist. Contact him at

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