First Hill drugs — Man says assaulted for photographing dealers, methadone clinic draws criticism

A man says he was assaulted late last month after he attempted to photograph drug dealers outside a First Hill convenience store. Meanwhile, a member of the neighborhood’s improvement association says problems associated with a First Hill methadone clinic have gotten out of hand.

According to the Seattle Police report on the Tuesday, November 29th assault, a man received a laceration after an alleged drug dealer he had been attempting to photograph flipped the victim’s bag of groceries onto his head:

He stated that that one of the subjects became agitated and told   not to take pictures of him.   refused and continued to photograph.   stated that the subject then approached him,slapped his grocery sack and flipping it into his head. The sack, which contained a (presumably) glass bottle, smacked him in the head causing a laceration. I could see a small amount of blood coming from  forehead.

The victim was able to provide police a detailed description of his attacker and the two men who were with him. He declined medical attention for his injury.

The report notes that the victim did not indicate what he was going to do with the photographs. The victim told police he was fed up with drug activity and the city’s “inability to combat the problem.” 

Police searched the area but were unable to find the suspects.

First Hill clinic a ‘supermarket for Oxycontin and ecstasy’
Meanwhile, the drug problems around Madison’s Therapeutic Health Services have a member of the First Hill Improvement Association calling it a “supermarket for Oxycontin and ecstasy”

First Hill’s Therapeutic Health Services is a drug treatment facility that helps painkiller and heroin addicts get clean using a synthetic opioid called methadone.

Because the clinic is located on a street corner, it technically has two addresses. That fluke allowed the clinic’s director to apply for — and receive — two licenses that have doubled the clinic’s clients.

“They have 1,000 clients coming each day,” said Jim Erickson of the First Hill Improvement Association. “State law says 350 is the limit.”

We’ll have more on Therapeutic Health Services and the limited alternatives its clients have soon.

20 thoughts on “First Hill drugs — Man says assaulted for photographing dealers, methadone clinic draws criticism

  1. The dealers outside of that convenience store have been a problem for a little while. They sit there and pretend to wait for the 12/60 bus. I hope (but doubt) that this incident gets SPD or KCM looking at that location to try and clean it up a bit.

  2. The remarks about the methodone clinic are just about the lowest thing I’ve heard in weeks, and it’s Primary season. What I just read is “I’m going to judge addicts for the mere fact that they’re addicts. We should take their treatment away until they stop being addicts.” I would like to be very clear that this person does not represent me, or my neighborhood.
    Want to tell the patients to shut the hell up at 5:30 in the morning? Be my guest. Want to tear the shrill beep out of their accessible van? I’ll help. But demonizing addiction is unhelpful. I wholeheartedly support the clinic, unless someone produces evidence that patients are not getting treatment.
    Until then, I live in a city. Not a bubble.

  3. I’m not demonizing addiction – I’m demonizing the people. Every business in the area has had to spend tons of money securing their buildings because these people loiter, they use drugs in bathrooms, they do drug deals, and they rob and steal. Swedish on First Hill just locked down all but three of their exterior doors because the losers from THS were doing drug deals in the cafeteria and shooting up in their bathrooms. McDonalds at Madison & Minor had to lock their doors, put up no loitering signs and limit the amount of time people could sit in the restaurant. Everyone in the area has dealt with vehicle break-ins, thefts from closed offices, and even assaults on the street.

    Addiction isn’t the problem – the people are.

  4. I lived across the street from the clinic and my basement level apartment overlooked the parking lot adjacent to the clinic. Unfortunately, this area created a nice area for junkies to shoot up, use the bathroom and turn tricks. It was a daily battle to try and chase these people off. The clinic staff did nothing to address this issue when they were notified of the activity. Thankfully, Virgnia Mason took care of the problem by cutting back the shrubs and providing a roving security patrol.

  5. Holly, you seem to be ignoring the reality that drug addicts cause frequent and serious social/criminal problems in some neighborhoods, especially when there is a methadone clinic there. Yes, they need treatment and help, but I question if providing one addictive drug for another is really helping them in the long run.

    I can’t believe that THS is allowed to procure two licenses, and see many more clients, just because they are located on a corner….that seems to be an abuse of any licensing laws. I hope the First Hill Improvement Association is successful in their effort to rein in this “clinic.” (aka “legal drug distribution center”).

  6. Holly,

    you are one credulous huckleberry. Must be a native. These dopers are not standup citizens with jobs and responsibilities. They are moochers who are sponging off the system that enables their cockroach lifestyle. Learn a little about how the world really works before you blab your whitey-tighty opinions.

  7. As a social documentary filmmaker working in Seattle, I take street shooting very seriously – It’s both foolish and dangerous for anyone (regular joe on the street or professional folks) to be out there, thinking that they can simply “pick up” whatever shots they want/whenever they want, WITHOUT asking for permission first OR being savvy, undercover & bold enough to get away with hit. Bold AND foolish, just don’t mix – It’s one thing to be “fed up” with the local street scene, it’s another thing to think that you’re “helping” to clean up the streets, by shooting random footage that won’t ever be seen publicly. What did he think he was going to do with it? Strange. Shooting on the street does not give you an open license to be disrespectful to ANYONE, period. This includes – drug dealers, random “regular folks” bustling to and from, people working, local businessness, prostitutes, children, animals, junkies, etc. Nobody has free reign, people – this is the concret jungle. Two words: Danger Zone. I regularly showcase challenging and controversial topics in my work – on a regular basis I shoot people handling illegal transactions on the street. It’s important to realize that they are people too, in spite of their decisions to live and/or work on the streets. If any part of this article is actually true (check your media sources please) – then I have to side with the dealers in this situation, he was warned at least once to stop. He’s lucky to be alive, people have been killed on the streets over less. I resent these types of situations because it does one of two things:

    1. Foolishness makes it difficult for ALL people who are acutually trying to make things better for folks on the streets or people need, period.

    2. It makes it harder for high quality & intregrity supported work to be produced on the street when people are suspect of you or trust you less (automatically), when they see you on the street shooting.

    As for the methadone clinic, I’ve toured it once and witnessed the behind the scenes action, I know the staff is dedicated, they work hard for and with their clients to keep them straight – Without their services, people trying to quit the cycle of drug abuse don’t stand a chance. If you consider the bigger picture for a moment, they are doing work that not only is high risk (and potentionally dangerous work) that NOBODY wants to do but, they are also protecting the community by supporting an already underserved and “throw away” population.

    All of our social services have been impacted by budget cuts, everyone is being pinched right now. This methadone clinic in particular is serving more folks on less funds – nobody wants a methadone clinic in their backyard but people in need, have to be served somewhere – if you’re against them, petition the city to do something about it and suggest another place for them to go. Count your blessings, folks.

  8. I hereby agree with all this stuff in this post. That was the first thing I thought when I read that the photographer refused to stop taking photos of the drug dealer. He got what he asked for in that situation. Doesn’t matter if it’s a drug dealer or just someone walking down the street coming home from work, if they don’t want you taking photos of them then fuck off and be courteous.

    Also, can that be the Capitol Hill motto from now on? “Capitol Hill: Fuck Off and be Courteous.”

  9. I don’t discredit any claims about whether or not “these people” are savory characters. I haven’t had issues, but I have no reason to believe that other people haven’t.
    But I don’t follow the logical leap of reducing crime by getting rid of the clinic. If the clinic is gone, does that mean that the clients will throw up their hands and give up on the whole crime racket? “Hallelujah! With the clinic gone, I can focus on being a good, upstanding citizens!”
    Criminal activity would be better solved by, I don’t know, addressing criminal activity.

  10. I didn’t seen anyone suggest getting rid of the clinic. Many people agree that addicts should have treatment available. But getting treatment for your addiction doesn’t give you carte blanche to shoot up in the bathrooms of local businesses and do drug deals on the corners.

  11. yes, drug addicts can be criminals to support their habits. and yes, many of the loud, disruptive people you see at the clinic are obnoxious and can be scary. but as someone who has a family member, a white collar family member, who is battling opiate addiction, i can tell you that their are contributing members of society, with jobs, that are battling their addictions by responsible use of methadone. Addiction is a disease and some people are desperately trying to kick the habit. I work on First Hill, and I, too, am annoyed by some the behaviors of the people that go to the clinic. But to want to get rid of the clinic and to dismiss addicts with such a wide generalization is distressing. Thank your lucky stars that you don’t have to battle addiction and hope that these people can get the help they need. and remember that the clients that are the most “visible,” are not a full representation of all the clientele that the clinic sees. You don’t see some of the white collar people loitering after they receive their methadone because they then go to their jobs after receiving their doses. Quick stigmatizing drug addicts based on the behaviors of others.

  12. thank you, holly. it seems most of the people here want to string up those suffering from drug addiction. i am appalled at some of the remarks here about dismissing whole groups of people, many whom desperately hate their disease and want to manage it.

  13. I live around the corner from the clinic in question and use all the bus stops and the convenience store in question. I’ve lived here for about three-and-a-half years. Among my observations are the following: Spring Street between Harvard and downtown is a MAJOR pedestrian street for morning and evening commutes downtown. It starts early. Commuters are preceded by and followed by dog walkers. So there are pedestrians on the street all day and all night, and in considerable numbers early in the morning and around the rush hour in the evening. Some of those pedestrians are people going to the clinic in question, others are going to other clinics (we have a large number in this corridor) including one at First Baptist. The regular clinic people tend to be somewhat more awake than I am in the morning, since they have been taking buses for an hour or more just to get here, but they are almost invariably pleasant to me, if not to each other as well. The clinic at Boren and Summit seems to serve some people who are really not well at all, and a fair number who don’t have much in the way of discretionary funds as well. A few, a very few, act out their feelings in ways that make others uncomfortable, but no more than the few of our neighbors who do the same.

    On the other hand, there also seems to be a sort of colony of dumpster divers. At one point I discovered that folks were using the dumpsters along our alley as storage lockers. Certainly, we have a few people who use the spaces between the dumpsters for toilets. Why is that, I wonder? Are there no public bathrooms in the neighborhood? Presumably dumpster divers don’t have the price of a cup of coffee to use the restrooms at any of the local coffee shops or restaurants. It is not at all clear that the dumpster divers are here because of or in any way are related to the clinics. Maybe we just have juicy dumpsters as compared with downtown.

    Clearly there are some drug dealers. They are likely to be here to prey upon the folks trying to get clear of addiction. They hang out at the bus stops, especially the ones along Madison, and they approach folks who look down-and-out. Although I suspect there are also a few regular customers who take the bus up to this neighborhood to find drugs. They prey upon clinic patients. Every so often, maybe once or twice a week, someone nods out in the neighborhood, standing on the sidewalk in plain sight. This is heroin, not any other fancy stuff, and these folks recover and go on their way in an hour or so.

    What doesn’t seem to happen, and this is moderately interesting, is that the drug dealers don’t seem to approach the young people. We have two relatively large private high schools in the immediate neighborhood, one of them, the closest, has a residential population. And we’re just a very short distance from Seattle U. so there are students all over the place. I walk and bus the Madison corridor every week day twice a day, and I’ve never seen any evidence to anyone approaching one of the young people at the bus stops, on the bus, or on the street.

    It is true that many of the people who come to the Boren and Summit clinic smoke tobacco. Me too. For that reason alone we see more of each other — since all of us have to smoke on the sidewalk these days. Contrary to common belief, smokers are not necessarily anti-social. One of the interesting things about those who use the clinic is how many of them have come to know each other, ask each other about others, seem concerned and supportive of people they know through the clinic, etc. If you are a person who finds smoking on the sidewalk lower class or upsetting, consider where people can go to smoke — you’ve left us no choice.

    The guys at the little convenience store, who sell tobacco among other things, have to be the kindest, most respectful people I’ve ever met. They patiently treat every customer as an individual, fairly, clearly, and with humor when appropriate. They got their windows smashed in for their pains recently. They sell lottery tickets, too, this is the legal state lottery folks, and it is amazing how many people use that service. It is not the convenience store that is a problem, it’s the lack of anywhere else that people can be treated respectfully.

    I often wonder if efforts were made to be supportive of the folks who use the clinics, and policing was effective against those who prey on them, if we would have a more pleasant experience of living in the neighborhood. I also wonder why methadone clinics can’t be more decentralized. Most of the folks who come to this one, come a long distance to get here — wouldn’t it be saner to provide small clinics in a variety of neighborhoods or even through pharmacies scattered throughout the King County area than to have people have to come to someplace “centrally” located? Methadone treatment is only one of the many services provided at the clinic on Boren and Summit.

  14. I have not read anything in this thread that suggests people want to get rid of this clinic. It is a necessary service. But if the clinic management/owners really have obtained two licenses so they could skirt the law and see many more patients, that is not OK. This is the issue that the First Hill Improvement Assn. seems to be focussing on.

  15. I am a client of the clinic.yes people do drugs.first of all I’ve never scene ecstacy
    Near the clinic.that would be a few blocks up on broadway,secondly,people don’t
    Do much oxycontin in the city,that’s more of a “suburban”problem.It sounds to me
    That whoever is part of the betterment society picked out the”most talked about”
    Drugs,in hopes of getting the biggest rise possible.I’m new to Seattle,and even in
    California people have heard of the capitol hill drug scene.Sorry sir,but your a little
    Late.I truly apologize for your inconvenience but if you want to combat a problem
    You should first”know your enemy”…that was a rage against the machine quote.I
    Truly do apologize for your inconvenience though.