When being poor in Seattle was a criminal offense
"I'd rather be in hell, than on the chain gang."
In 1872, the Seattle council passed Ordinance 32 that outlined punishment for vagrants — the idle, dissolute, immoral, profligate, or the unemployed — by specifying that they could be put to work. Many offenses earned a sentence on the chain gang: Swearing, drunkenness, illegal gambling, patronizing prostitutes. But for many, the only offense was being poor. If you couldn’t pay a fine, you had to work it off on the gang.