Street kids attacked legislation Saturday that would make it easier to force runaway youngsters to return home or enter get-tough treatment and got a sympathetic ear from Gov. Mike Lowry.
More than 100 people, many of them teenage transients, crammed a church meeting room to tell the governor it would be futile to return runaways to homes they flee because of abuse, send them to psychiatric wards or juvenile lockups or submit them to foster homes.
“I’ve been in about every foster home in King County, and I’ve been mentally and physically abused in most of them. Some of them I’ve been sexually abused in,” said one girl, who gave her name as Tinkerbell Angeldust.
“They’d rather face the chances of rape out on the streets, murder out on the streets, freezing out on the streets - they’d rather face all of that than go back home,” activist Nivek Gallacci said.
The meeting was preceded by a free lunch of soup, fruit, green salad, bagels, cinnamon rolls and herb tea served by the group Food Not Bombs.Lowry answered questions for
more than an hour and a half before it was halted to clear the parking lot for a wedding at the church.
Even then, the governor continued to answer questions from individual kids, at one point using a copy of one bill to show how he could veto sections but not provisions within a section.
Runaways are the focus of three bills in the Legislature. All would raise the age of consent - the maximum age at which parents can commit their children to residential programs without court proceedings - to 18 from the current 13.
A House measure would lift driving privileges for two-time runaways and subject triple offenders to detention for as long as six months.