The city of Everett, Washington is being accused of having skewed priorities after they shut down a 7-year-old girl’s lemonade stand — while ignoring many complaints about the homeless encampment in the same park.
Elsa LaMaine, 7, has been running a small lemonade and flower stand in Rucker Hill Park with her grandmother Cherie LaMaine every summer since she was four years old.
Last week, a park ranger shut down their tradition over a complaint from a neighbor, as you are not allowed to sell products on public property.
While shutting down a child’s lemonade stand is controversial in itself, especially as she donates a portion of her earnings to local nonprofit Everett Gospel Mission, it has caused even more of an uproar as many complaints about a dangerous homeless encampment at the park have gone ignored by the city.
“The situation angered neighbors who said they were surprised the city would take the time to shut down a lemonade stand while a nearby homeless encampment continues to cause problems in the community,” local station King 5 reports.
The city has instituted a ten block “no sit, no lie” ordinance on a section of Smith Avenue, which has displaced the people who used to sleep there and caused many to move into the park.
“In the middle of KING 5’s interview with Cherie LaMaine and Elsa, a naked man walked out of the woods and into the park,” the station noted in their report.
LaMaine reported the incident to 911, according to the report. “We have homeless people coming through here all the time,” she told the operator, “but this is really bad. He’s totally naked.”
Police responded to the call, but he was spotted at another encampment a few blocks away shortly after.
LaMaine told the station that though it was still shocking, incidents with the homeless encampment are hardly rare.
“We’ve had people coming through here swinging weapons,” LaMaine said. “Something’s very wrong with this picture.”
Following the streaking homeless man, the grandmother took Elsa home for snacks.
“She has handled it really well, which makes me happy,” LaMaine said. “But we need a better response to the things that are really dangerous. Leave the little kids alone for heaven’s sakes. Let them have their lemonade stands!”