Gary Watts, the owner of a car repair shop in Everett, Washington, installed a video camera on top of his building to livestream a sidewalk homeless encampment across the street from his workplace.
The video stream is currently 24/7 on Facebook, and the frustrated small-business owner has bigger plans in store, according to Komonews.com.
"We'll be adding more high definition cameras and it will be part of a 24-hours-a-day live-streaming YouTube channel called Tweakerville USA," said Watts, owner of Z Sport Automotive. For those interested in a primer on underground drug culture in America, "tweakers" is slang for methamphetamine addicts.
"We will run that channel on this particular location as long as it takes in order to change things in Everett, Washington," Watts declared. He went so far as to alter the wording of an electronic sign on his repair shop to say "Welcome to Tweakerville."
The police in Everett are aware that there is a homeless camp across from Watts' business, but have been slow to take any firm action.
According to Police Chief Dan Templeton, the homeless living in the camp are frequently contacted by Community Outreach and Enforcement Team (COET) social workers, who try to get the campers into shelter housing.
For the last year, City of Everett crew members have cleaned up the garbage and debris produced by those living on the street. Watt's camera revealed footage of the Everett crew cleaning up the street and homeless people reestablishing their tents just 20 minutes after the cleanup had been completed.
According to Chief Templeton, officers have arrested drug dealers in the vicinity, and noted that convicted offenders who are simply seen in the area can be immediately arrested.
But that's not enough for Watts, who asserts that his camera is not so much a spying mechanism as it is a statement. "City leaders don't get it, they need to show some tough love," he said.
"It's a problem because too many churches are providing too much food and too many meals and too many clothes and too much support," he added. "And the good citizens of Everett, [are] providing a wonderful environment for the tweakers to migrate and to enjoy, it's a benefits issue."
Matthew Parker, a homeless man who claims that he has been on the street in the area for over four years, offered a unique perspective of his own, suggesting that the camera is a good means of showcasing the struggles that homeless people face on a daily basis.
"Not all of us are necessarily bad people," said Parker, who added that the live stream could help to "show that life out here is not easy and we would be happy for some help."