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By now hundreds of people have seen my face on flyers plastered on telephone and utility poles throughout the International District (ID). These flyers contain lies about me that have been fabricated by the Seattle Solidarity Network (SeaSol), a phony leftist “anarchist” group wishing to lead a revolution for working people.
I am Chinese American and I have been the target of a racist smear campaign by SeaSol. They have posted over 100 flyers in the ID about me and undertaken other actions attempting to defame me. As the Executive Director of the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), a non-profit housing agency, my staff and I have helped house tens of thousands of needy families and seniors over the past 20 years. We have a long history of providing housing to minorities, immigrant/refugees, API and other underserved households. Over 1,600 low-income families live at Denice Hunt Townhomes, Aki Kurose Village and other LIHI buildings.
Maybe there really is some truth to the saying that “no good deed goes unpunished!” For months SeaSol has been spreading lies about LIHI and me, picketing, and trying to extort money for a disgruntled former tenant. The tenant, George Berumen, had falsely accused his African American neighbor of manufacturing “huge quantities” of drugs in his unit. LIHI investigated these claims repeatedly and found that they were completely unfounded. He eventually decided, on his own accord, to leave the Frye, and when he left, he left his unit in a mess. LIHI kept $99 in deposits and cleaned the unit for another tenant. Instead of going to small claims court to make a case that his security deposit should be refunded, as the law provides for, George decided to join up with SeaSol.
LIHI does not own any housing in the International District, so when asked by a reporter from Real Change why SeaSol would plaster the ID with offensive flyers containing photos of me, they admitted: “It will show the Asian community what type of person she is.” They are out to embarrass me with their racist and poorly thought out campaign.
A key mistake SeaSol made in supporting George was to blindly take the side of one tenant against another tenant. In rental housing, it is not uncommon that problems develop between tenants—including racially motivated and false accusations. We met with SeaSol in September to let them know that the African American neighbor was being falsely accused and that George had not told the truth about leaving his apartment “clean.” We tried to reason with them. We showed them the move-out inspection report identifying the dirty areas where staff had to clean. SeaSol was caught not doing their homework. They would not acknowledge the fact that LIHI and the police investigated and found no drugs. They refused to even talk to the African American neighbor to get his side of the story!
A day after our meeting with SeaSol, in an affront to the civil rights movement, SeaSol decided to picket the opening of Gossett Place. This is a new building LIHI named in honor of King County Council Chair Larry Gossett. He was a founder of the Black Student Union at UW and dedicated his life to the advancement of racial justice. According to Seattle activist “Uncle” Bob Santos, “It is a disgrace for SeaSol to picket the opening of Gossett Place. We are here to celebrate Larry Gossett, who tirelessly fought for racial equality and for those who are under-represented.”
“It is a shame that this group wants to attack the most progressive and effective housing organization helping the homeless and people of color,” stated Beverly Sims, a LIHI board member and civil rights leader, “The agency has a multi-racial and unionized staff. SeaSol picked the wrong ‘enemy.’”
I hope other progressive people will support me and understand the danger of this reactionary campaign against us. SeaSol’s lack of integrity, their blatant racism, their distortion of the truth and their bullying tactics, all lead one to wonder if they truly have poor people’s rights at heart. Perhaps this anarchist group is connected to the far right hoping to defame progressive organizations like LIHI which have proven track records of helping the poor.