'North Everett Tweaker Cam' live streaming homeless camp

The drug problem in Everett has one businessman so frustrated he's broadcasting it for the world to see.

The drug problem in Everett has one businessman so frustrated he's broadcasting it for the world to see.

Last month, Gary Watts posted a "Welcome to Tweakerville" sign outside his business. He's now live streaming a homeless camp to draw attention to Snohomish County's opioid epidemic.

Watts has run his auto repair shop in North Everett for 25 years. The past five or so have seen an explosion in the number of homeless addicts camping across the street.

His customers don't feel safe.

Fed up, he installed four surveillance cameras, and he's not done yet. 

"My next step is a drone program," he said. "And we're buying a microphone so we can broadcast audio."

The cameras are live streaming the activities along Smith Avenue to countless people in at least 167 countries. Most of it is routine and mundane. Occasionally, however, the cameras zoom in on addicts shooting heroin in broad daylight.

Watts says his mission is simple.

"I want a safe place to live. I want a safe place for my employees to work. I want a safe place to do business with my customers," he said.

Watts says on Wednesday night his cameras captured some people breaking in to a neighboring business. Employee John Stolzenburt called the cops and had them arrested.

"I hope we're sending a message," he said.

The Everett Gospel Mission sits a block away from the camp. CEO Sylvia Anderson conceded the camp is a problem, and understands Watts' frustration.

She worries, however, that exposing the camp for all to see may do more harm than good.

"This population has started to decrease in the past few months," she said. "I'm concerned that it's going to grow and become the place to come sell your drugs because of all the exposure."

The cameras are now getting so much attention the City of Everett issued a statement about them Thursday.

It reads, in part, "It can be tempting to focus on the negative and on the short-term. It is also tempting to paint all those on the street with the same brush, to assume that they are all homeless, all addicts, all committing crimes. That is a dangerous oversimplification, and it ignores the complexity of the issues we see on our streets."

For now, Watts says he has no plans to stop the live stream and will continue to use it to push City Hall to clean up his neighborhood.

"I have empathy," he said, "but I want my city clean."

© 2017 KING-TV


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