Human waste spread at Alaska’s News Source entrance, one of many businesses impacted by the homelessness crisis

Human waste spread at Alaska’s News Source entrance, one of many businesses impacted by the homelessness crisis
Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 5:42 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The entrance of the building housing KTUU-TV, Alaska’s News Source, which is across the street from a large homeless camp near Cuddy Park, had multiple bags of human waste spread across its front entrance Friday night.

This comes at a time when an Anchorage Chamber of Commerce survey reports two out of every three city businesses report having received property damage resulting from the homeless crisis.

When an Alaska’s News Source reporter went to the park Monday and met a woman who called herself Angela Butcher, she said she was responsible for pouring the waste around the front entrance.

Butcher resembles the woman seen in surveillance videos spreading waste.

When asked why she vandalized the building, Butcher said she was upset about the conditions of the porta-potties in the homeless camps and was “protesting.”

“Defeated, very frustrated. I feel embarrassed right now, but I just didn’t know what to do,” Butcher said.

Two porta-potties are at the homeless camp near Cuddy Park. Butcher says she often has to clean and supply toilet paper herself. She says she was especially upset Friday because children were using the filthy bathroom.

“Why throw feces at our door when we didn’t create the problem,” Alaska’s News Source asked.

“Well, that’s true, but you guys — it’s really heavy (the bags of human waste) — and you’re the closest ones and I just, I mean, who’s gonna tell the story? Nobody else will,” Butcher said.

The Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department says it pays for top-tier levels of services, which means the porta-potties are supposed to be cleaned twice a day.

Mike Braniff, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, says he would like to add more porta-potties at the camps, but he was told most of them were being used at the Alaska State Fair.

Alaska’s News Source, like other businesses in Anchorage, was required to file a police report online.

In a follow-up email to the report the Anchorage Police Department about the situation APD wrote: “Generally speaking, if there is no suspect information and no injuries, an online report is sufficient.”

Alaska’s News Source asked a spokesperson for the municipality who is in charge of taking responsibility for everything, including human waste, when it involves the homeless camps in town.

“Unfortunately, vandalism occurs in cities large and small, and private business and property owners are sometimes subject to these crimes,” Veronica Hoxie, a communications director for the municipality, responded. “There is no ordinance that makes the MOA responsible for cleaning or maintaining privately owned property, nor is there a plan for this to change.”

Alaska’s News Source also asked when is the municipality required to provide sanitation stations at camps.

“Mayor Bronson has requested that bathrooms, dumpsters, and handwashing stations be made available at the three large homeless encampments: 40th and Denali, 3rd and Ingra and Davis/snow dump. These sanitation stations have been provided and are scheduled for daily cleaning. Parks and Recreation have doubled the number of facilities at 3rd and Ingra from four bathrooms to eight in the last week. The Anchorage Health Department has also requested an increase in the number of facilities at 40th and Denali,” Hoxie wrote.

According to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, property crimes have increased in Anchorage, and downtown has been particularly impacted.

“Property crime rates are down from recent peaks in 2019, including for burglary, DUI, stolen vehicle, and theft. Rates of vandalism have increased since 2021, reaching their previous 2019 rate,” the chamber reports on its website.

Butcher says that at first, she didn’t plan to leave human waste.

“I thought ‘That’s really gross and smelly and probably not a good idea’ and then I tried to call and get a reporter,” Butcher said. “So I said, ‘Well, I guess they can’t ignore this.’”

Shortly before the vandalism Friday evening, Alaska’s News Source received a call from a woman who said she lived at the homeless camp near Cuddy Park and was concerned about porta-potties overflowing.