According to the mayor and the Federal Way police chief, the residents behind the protests against the shopping carts in mid-June will not be subject to fines or citations.
Last month, dozens of shopping carts filled with trash and other items from homeless encampments in nearby wooded areas lined busy Federal Way roads three times.
One of those involved, who requested anonymity to the Mirror fearing backlash from city officials, said the protests were a way to “start a fire behind the cleanup”, the Mirror previously reported.
As of June 16, city officials were aware of three separate cartwheel protests that were costing ratepayers more than $20,000 to suppress, according to the city.
The Mirror asked for city bills for garbage disposals once available.
City officials have previously said responsible parties could face fines of $5,000 for illegal dumping, jail time or trespassing. Now the City of Federal Way and the Federal Way Police Department have said they will not cite or fine any residents.
No official investigation into the protest demonstrations has been conducted and it is unclear who bears full responsibility for the incidents, police chief Andy Hwang said.
“In cases like this, the police department always seeks voluntary compliance from our residents,” he said.
Since the controversy unfolded last month, the city’s message has been clear “for whoever is responsible for stopping such acts to avoid the added burden on city staff and unnecessary expense,” did he declare.
The city and police have not seen any other similar displays.
Mayor Jim Ferrell, who was quick to speak out against residents’ actions, said the protests were counterproductive.
“We were already in the process [of cleaning the encampments]”This protest didn’t change anything except to let us know they were frustrated.”
Although people most likely believed they were doing a good thing, Ferrell said: “Honestly, I don’t believe the people who did this knew putting it on the pavement would constitute any offence…I don’t think their intention was to do that.”
Homeless encampments and the city’s actions to address the sites are emotionally charged issues, he said. It gets strong reactions because the people who live in this city want and deserve a clean and safe city, Ferrell said.
To improve communication with residents about the city’s actions to clean up homeless encampments, Deputy Chief of Police Steve Neal and Director of Community Development Brian Davis are hosting a joint presentation at the council meeting Municipality of Federal Way.
The presentation on the city’s work and future plans will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 6. To view the meeting, watch on the city’s YouTube page or join via Zoom.