Will James | KNKX

Will James

South Sound Reporter

Will James covers the South Sound region, as well as housing and immigration issues, for KNKX. He came to the station from Newsday in his home state of New York. 

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Will James / KNKX

UPDATE, Nov. 24: A protest organized by Tacoma housing advocates Monday night ended with a march to the home of the city’s mayor. The demonstration started at the Tacoma Mall, where activists called for creation of a so-called community land trust, to guarantee more affordable housing in the city.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health officer for Seattle and King County, talks to reporters on March 4, 2020 at a news conference in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

For weeks, public health officials have been sending the same message: confirmed COVID-19 cases are rising quickly in many parts of Washington state, and it's more important than ever to take precautions. 

But, amid "pandemic fatigue" and muddled messaging from political leaders, it's gotten harder to break through with that advice, King County's top public health official said Friday. 

Black Lives Matter activists gathered in Pioneer Square on Wednesday night to call for every vote to be counted in the presidential election. They also stressed the need to "protect every person" for truly equitable elections in the future.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Black Lives Matter activists gathered in Seattle on Wednesday night, calling for every vote to be counted in the presidential election. But they stressed that their work does not end with the election.

Leaders of the rally in the Pioneer Square neighborhood, titled “Count Every Vote, Protect Every Person,” tried to channel concern over the election into local causes they’ve been advocating for years. They made the argument that every vote cannot truly count if some people are disenfranchised or killed.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

This series started with Jessica. We find out what happened to her.

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A person wears a mask as she waits to enter the RAM Restaurant and Brewery, Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in Tacoma, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

Pierce County officials, in an effort to help restaurants stay in business and retain jobs, will offer an incentive for customers to dine inside restaurants next month.

The two-week "restaurant rally," is scheduled for Nov. 8-19, excluding Friday and Saturday. Restaurants will offer a 30 percent discount to customers who dine inside, and then the county will reimburse the businesses. 

Episode 9: On the Ground

Oct 14, 2020
Adrian Florez / KNKX

What’s with all the trash? Should you give cash to someone who asks for it? We took your questions about homelessness to the people best equipped to respond: those who are homeless themselves.

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Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

In early 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic, KNKX and The Seattle Times' Project Homeless team joined forces to make Outsiders, a documentary-style podcast that gave listeners a close-up view of unsheltered homelessness.

Seven months later, Outsiders is back with a three-episode finale that seeks to answer some of the questions the podcast laid out in the beginning.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Olympia’s response to homelessness defied conventions. Did it work? A year later, we look at the city’s results and whether they point to a way forward.

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Adrian Florez / KNKX

Stay tuned for a three-episode finale that completes the story we started telling you early this year. The first of those episodes drops Oct. 7.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr arrives for a panel discussion on combatting human trafficking on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Atlanta. The Department of Justice is distributing nearly $100 million to fight human trafficking nationwide.
Brynn Anderson / The Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Justice is giving out nearly $100 million dollars to fight human trafficking nationwide. The recipients include six Washington-based organizations that help trafficking victims. In total, the groups will receive a combined $2.6 million. 

Community members gathered in June for a celebration of life for Manuel Ellis, who was killed by Tacoma police in March. In this photo, one of the attendees hangs a flyer with Ellis’ image that says “Happy Father’s Day Manny.”
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

More than six months have passed since 33-year-old Manuel Ellis was killed by Tacoma police on a residential street in March. He died after telling officers he couldn't breathe. The medical examiner ruled it a homicide. 

Since then, Ellis' death has sparked protests, vigils, efforts to reform statewide police-accountability laws, and legal action against the City of Tacoma. Meanwhile, the state patrol is investigating whether any of the four Tacoma officers who were at the scene should be charged with crimes. Ellis became a local example of the inequities people around the country were protesting after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis. 

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Mental health experts warn that Washington residents are entering a critical period, six to nine months into a disaster, when mental health problems tend to arise or worsen.

This week, Washington marks six months since a stay-at-home order first went into effect. Six months marks a threshold between an initial "honeymoon" phase of the pandemic and a more trying "disillusionment" phase, experts say.

In this January 2020 file photo, tents are pictured inside a homeless encampment in Olympia.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Port of Olympia officials and Thurston County sheriff’s deputies displaced an estimated eight unsheltered people from a wooded Tumwater property on Monday, sparking objections from activists concerned “sweeps” of camps add pressure to a shelter system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Heat rising from the roadway blur the image of a fire truck driving through a burned out area Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, during a media tour to survey wildfire damage in Bonney Lake.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

A wildfire that has consumed a hillside overlooking the Sumner Valley in East Pierce County continues to burn. The Sumner Grade Fire, which started Monday evening, has burned an estimated 800 acres in the Bonney Lake area. It’s destroyed four homes.

Meanwhile, a number of separate brush fires and structure fires have flared up nearby, putting an unprecedented strain on fire districts’ pool of resources.

Attorney James Bible, bottom right, and the family of the late Manuel Ellis are seen at a press conference in June. On Friday, Bible announced the family's plan to seek $30 million in damages in a lawsuit against the city of Tacoma.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX (file)

Nearly six months after Manuel Ellis was killed by Tacoma police, his family says they plan to seek $30 million in damages in a lawsuit against the city.

The family's attorney, James Bible, said he planned to file a precursor to a lawsuit known as a tort claim with the city on Friday afternoon. 

The announcement came on what would have been Ellis' 34th birthday. 

In this file photo from March, a man carrying a sleeping bag looks at a sign on the door of the Bread of Life Mission in Seattle's downtown Pioneer Square neighborhood. COVID-19 cases have risen in King County’s homeless population throughout the summer.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

UPDATE, Aug. 26: King County public health officials say one person has died in connection with the Harborview Hall outbreak. The man, who was in his 70s, died Aug. 7 and had "underlying medical conditions," public health officials said. The King County Medical Examiner's Office lists COVID-19 as one of the causes of death.  

In this photo taken March 23, 2017, outreach worker Brenda Frazier, left, walks with Seattle police officers Tori Newborn, right, and Wes Phillips past tents housing homeless people below a freeway next to downtown Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Budget changes in Seattle could upend how the city responds to encampments of people living outside in tents and makeshift houses.

This week, a majority of City Council members voted to remove funding from the city's three-year-old Navigation Team, which is made up of police officers and outreach workers who respond to encampments. Members of the team disband or "sweep" encampments while also trying to connect the people displaced with shelter and other services.

Quincy Henry roasting coffee for his business, Campfire Coffee Co.
Courtesy of Quincy Henry

Unknown numbers of businesses will die as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic shutdown.

But, here and there, businesses are still being born.

David Goldman / The Associated Press

Medicines that help people stop using opioids are heavily regulated, and people seeking them usually have to navigate in-person doctor visits, daily stops at a clinic, frequent urine tests, and other requirements that derail or discourage many.

But, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, federal officials have loosened rules for the medications methadone and buprenorphine, in order to limit in-person contact between providers and patients. 

Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health officer for Seattle and King County, talks to reporters on March 4, 2020 at a news conference in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

King County health officials say they're monitoring rising COVID-19 infections in younger people, as new cases in the Seattle area reach levels last seen during a peak this spring. 

Nearly three quarters of new cases are in people under 40 years old, King County's top public health official, Dr. Jeff Duchin, told reporters in a briefing Friday. 

Protesters gather in Tacoma on June 2 to demand justice for Bennie Branch, who was shot and killed by Tacoma police in September 2019.
Ashley Gross / KNKX

Two cases in which police in Pierce County shot and killed Black men in their 20s are getting renewed attention following weeks of protest sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Bennie Branch, 24, and Said Joquin, 26, were shot and killed in separate incidents eight months apart. 

Katrina Johnson, cousin to the late Charleena Lyles, spoke at a rally on June 18, 2020, the three-year anniversary of Lyles' death.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Katrina Johnson had prepared for a career in nursing. Then Seattle police shot and killed her cousin, Charleena Lyles, on June 18, 2017.

"From that day, it's just been a constant fight trying to understand and come to terms with what happened," said Johnson, a Tacoma resident.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office is reviewing at least 30 cases in which police killed or wounded people in 2020, amid concerns law enforcement agencies are not following new rules governing how they hold each other accountable in cases of deadly force.

Manuel Ellis
Courtesy of Tacoma Action Collective

The Washington State Patrol will take over an investigation into the death of Manuel Ellis, a Black man who was killed in Tacoma police custody in March after telling an officer, "I can't breathe, sir."

Gov. Jay Inslee made the announcement in a written statement Wednesday afternoon.

Manuel Ellis, who was killed while in Tacoma police custody March 3. Ellis is remembered as a musician and father whose life was marked by  by pain, struggle, and a search for redemption.
Courtesy of Tacoma Action Collective

A newly released video taken by a witness appears to show a Tacoma police officer wrap his arm around Manuel Ellis' neck and then press a knee into Ellis' body.

The video reveals new details of the struggle that preceded Ellis' death on a South Tacoma street the night of March 3. The case has gotten increasing attention and scrutiny amid nationwide protests decrying police brutality against Black people.

Manuel Ellis, who was killed while in Tacoma police custody March 3. Ellis is remembered as a musician and father whose life was marked by  by pain, struggle, and a search for redemption.
Courtesy of Tacoma Action Collective

Manuel Ellis has been a focus of national attention for the way he died: saying he couldn’t breathe while lying on the ground, handcuffed by Tacoma police officers, one night in March.

Ellis’ 33 years of life also were marked by trauma and struggle against forces pressing down on him ⁠— as well as a long, slow road toward stability, according to friends and family members. 

Tacoma activist Shalisa Hayes chooses, among other things, to sit out marches and protests for her own mental health. She talked with KNKX about navigating personal pain, mental health and activism.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Americans have now lived through more than a week of intense national focus on Black people dying violently.

Tacoma activist Shalisa Hayes says, for some Black Americans, that barrage of news takes a personal toll.

A demonstrator holds up a sign in front of police and National Guard members in Seattle on June 2, 2020 during a protest over the death of George Floyd.
Shauna Sowersby / KNKX

After five days of protest against police brutality and racism, activists continue marching the streets of Seattle and Tacoma. 

In Seattle, hundreds of people flooded the streets of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood on Tuesday.

Black church leaders gather on the streets of Tacoma to pray for their community's fight against COVID-19 and the "virus" of racism.
Will James / KNKX

As protests raged across the country over the weekend, dozens of black church leaders in Tacoma gathered on street corners to pray.

The event had been planned to highlight the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, but it took on new meaning amid nationwide unrest over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. KNKX’s Will James attended the event to talk with those faith leaders and record their remarks.

Volunteers and city workers clean up in Seattle's Chinatown-International District following a weekend of protests that ended with vandalism.
Will James / KNKX

Seattle's Chinatown-International District teemed with volunteers and city workers Sunday. They were trying to undo some of the damage in a neighborhood hit hard by vandalism during the weekend's protests.

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