Man severely beaten at Cal Anderson — UPDATE: Victim’s condition improves

A man was severely beaten in a Sunday night assault in Cal Anderson in which he was reportedly kicked repeatedly in the head.

We have only preliminary information and have not confirmed details of the assault or the man’s condition in the 9:25p incident.

The victim in his 30s was reportedly inside the park when he was assaulted by multiple men. The assailants were taken into custody, according to Seattle Fire radio dispatches.

We will update as we can gather more information and confirm the assault.

The incident comes as the Mayor’s office announced an increased safety emphasis for the popular Capitol Hill park.


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44 thoughts on “Man severely beaten at Cal Anderson — UPDATE: Victim’s condition improves

  1. This kind of stuff does NOT need to be happening – where is the Seattle PD these days? Capitol Hill isn’t the only area that is unsafe in the evenings these days. I used to spend many a night in Belltown not even a decade ago, and NEVER felt the least bit uncomfortable. I want my old Seattle back! Let’s get with the program, Mayor!!

  2. How many macings, stabbings, beatings, muggings & hatchets to the head is it going to take before we admit to the fact that not just Cal Anderson but all of Capitol Hill has a serious problem?

  3. I’ve lived on Cap Hill since 1999, I have never seen the s**t that’s happening now. I’m all about giving the disenfranchised a break, all about live & let live. But the category of angry, CRAZY people we have sleeping/living in Cal Anderson has exploded. And not just Cal Anderson…I awoke a few wee mornings ago to a man screeeeaming angry profantities at no one in particular, just pacing up & down 12th Ave, screaming. Mr McGinn, get your head out of your bicycle/anti-tunnel ass fixation and concentrate on keeping your citizens safe!

  4. It cuts 5-10 mins off my walking commute to and from work if I cut thru Cal Anderson. As the days have started getting shorter again I go out of my way to walk around the park. As soon as dusk starts approaching I really don’t feel safe walking through the park alone. Maybe I’m just more aware of the ongoings now and maybe it’s just some recency effect, but I don’t remember feeling this way even last summer. It’s a shame because it has me reconsidering how much longer I want to live on the hill. So many things I love about this place, but I’m not sure what that’s worth if I don’t feel safe once night hits…

  5. When I moved to Cap Hill 10 years ago Cal Anderson was a horrible dump. A dusty jogging path around an open reservoir that was surrounded in a chainlink fence with barbed wire on top. Playing fields that were littered with needles and condoms. I walked by Cal Anderson to and from work for 5 years and saw some seriously sketchy shit on a regular basis.

    The City and local residents put a lot of effort and money into making Cal Anderson a real “Park” that appealed to all cross-sections of the community. Up until this past year (and in particular, the past few months) the park felt safe, and visually was SUCH a huge improvement on what it used to be. You’d think that the City would take some pride in what the park has became, and see to it that it was safe, clean and not the blight on the community that it’s become. Not to mention the cost that went into totally revamping the park. All that aside, what really blows my mind is the fact that Cal Anderson is less than a block away from the East Precinct. Seriously SPD?! Daytime muggings and attacks, and incidents like what happened tonight should not be happening a stones throw from a police precinct.

    I really, really hope that the City and the Mayor actually follow through with their promises of making Cal Anderson a place that people can enjoy without fear of being harassed, robbed or beaten.

  6. Let’s see, we can:
    1) Live in a police state with cops on every corner and cameras everywhere, or,
    2) Be descended upon by predators — some homicidal — keen on our iPhones and other toys, or maybe just out to kick some ass.

    There’s no budget for the cops, though, so I guess that 1) is not a practical alternative.

    Would a functional, equitable economy reduce the violence and robbery? I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t hurt. But given the ever widening chasm between the haves and have nots (a divide now at third world dimensions in the US), that’s not a realistic alternative either.

    So I guess tonight Cap Hill is getting a glimpse of the future, behind door number 2).

  7. The increased patrols do need to happen in the park, but ALSO the surrounding area. Once the park is secure, the people who were in the park participating in illegal activities just move a few feet away into the areas immediately around the park.

  8. I disagree that a “functional, equitable economy” (although a good thing) would reduce the incidence of crimes like this. It is not the recently unemployed who are doing this, but thugs who are going to commit criminal acts regardless of what the economy is doing.

  9. Gee, I walked through the park about 4pm and it was just lovely so what you’re reporting did not happen.

    A little diligence, a little police presence, would make a big difference. Perhaps my glasses are too rosy but a pair of cops walking through the park does not a police state make. Just as all the down and outers hanging in the park are neither Jebus nor mass murderers all cops are not Ian Birk.

  10. Why is it impossible for this city to have beat cops on foot?

    We are big enough now and have dense enough neighborhoods that a few cops on foot makes sense. Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square and Belltown could all use cops that walk around especially in the evening hours.

  11. Well it does now Mel, check the update. An especially nasty sort at that, kicking someone in the head when they’re already on the ground goes beyond an ass-kicking.

    People keep talking about discrimination and picking on the homeless community around the park. This incident and several others again make the point that this issue is about criminal activity in the park. That the perpetrators happened to be “transient youths” is ancillary. When people are being beaten to the point of having life threatening skull fractures there needs to be more focus on the characters hanging around the park regardless of their residential status.

  12. Geeze, even if they weren’t covering the whole Hill, the recent spate of violence in Cal Anderson alone would dictate a full-time presence there, duh?

  13. Let’s see, stomping on someone’s head hard enough to cause skull fracture = attempted homicide. Assault is a fairly weak charge for this. And wow, we were all so impressed when SPD had two foot patrol officers in the park for the entire shift. How did that happen, and why weren’t there officers in the park when this incident happened? Was it a one-day-only kind of a test? No shame on SPD though – spread the budget nice and thin for them, what more could they do? Cal Anderson has turned into something nasty. And perhaps Volunteer is next (armed robbery, anyone?) I think if they at least put some cameras in they could monitor it, who cares about privacy when you’re in a public park?

  14. …Cal Anderson park is not for children. Where are the smart alecs from last week who made fun of a couple of us women/moms who gave the opinion that Cal Anderson park is getting out of hand and that we don’t feel safe? Where are the smartypantses who piped in with the tired “oh move to Bellevue” and the “I never have problems in the park (it must be YOU)”?

  15. Chris:
    They are all still recovering from Bumbershoot yesterday and Hempfest last weekend I suppose. It IS only 1pm in the afternoon on a holiday so far, y’know.

    Seriously though, I love how so many will jump to the defense of the ones they see as without power but when these same people undeniably violate the law (like these people did last night), it’s easy to go mute and not stand by your beliefs.

    These are the issues I see that’s challenging Capitol Hill the most. There is a change in the make-up of the population, and with that comes a change in values and acceptable social norms/standards.

    By the way, no one has mentioned so far that this person has gone to hospital for care and presumably has no ability to pay for his care. We don’t exactly have the luxury of paying for indigent care any longer either, so that’s another point in why we need to clean up what’s happening around here.

  16. I think the crime in this park issue is a bit skewed. I live near the park and I’m in the park almost daily. While a few of the recent criminal incidents have been random attacks, the majority of the crime is taking place between people who know each other. It’s addicts attacking other addicts and homeless youth attacking other homeless youth. As a woman, who is not part of either of these groups, I feel safe there. Yes, I use some street smarts about where and when to be in the park, but overall, I enjoy it and feel safe there. What I have observed is that the area between the playground and the ballfield has become a defacto encampment for some homeless people, but mainly a group of homeless youth. I never feel threatened by these people but I don’t hang out in that part of the park. Do they have a right to be there? That’s a complicated issue and I don’t know the answer. This recent incident involved a specific group of youth who seem to have made the park their home. It’s not pleasant but it doesn’t mean the park is a scary threatening place for the rest of us. They are more of a threat to each other.

  17. Actually, umvue, I subtly offered a trinary view, not a binary one. The third alternative, a working, equitable economy, is clearly the best of the three.

    Calhoun, I think our broken and polarized economy is indeed at the root of the problem. I’m not suggesting that last night’s “apparently transient youth” are reacting to their recent unemployment, but you need to take a broader view.

    When people are financially secure and employed, families are more likely to remain intact, and their children receive the benefit of greater parental supervision and involvement in their lives, their schools, and their neighborhoods. Neighborhoods strengthen and become a force for good in children’s lives rather than a danger to them. Those kids are more likely to finish school. They would graduate into an economy where they can find employment at a living wage. They would face a hopeful rather than bleak future.

    And educated young adults from functional families, with a hopeful future, are much less likely to roam the parks, stomping on heads.

  18. Large Marge:

    Referring to your earlier post, the foot patrols you saw there Saturday are the direct result of the previous stories on this blog and local news about the issues in the park. See the mayor’s press release that is posted as an update in the previous story about Cal Anderson on 9/2/11

    Secondly, you seem to be totally comfortable with being in the midst of some pretty nasty and violent criminal behavior so long as it’s not directed at you personally. Can I ask what level of violence and/or criminal behavior would make you uncomfortable?

    Does it matter that most of the criminal behavior comes from and is directed toward people that are acquainted with one another? Is it your opinion that some people’s rights to assault each other and deal/use dope in the park trumps the rights of other people who want the park to be safe for themselves and their children?

    I’m glad that you feel safe, but I find your logic seriously flawed and your level of information on the continuing narrative of this story to be low. Have a nice day.

  19. MMA, I feel like your reply to Large Marge is an unreasonable answer to a reasonable post. Marge is speaking about how the crime affects the feeling of personal safety that an ordinary member of the public might have. It’s a reasonable point to state that an average person might not feel unsafe there. Through this blog I’ve taken to reading the police reports and I’ve developed a similar opinion – a good chunk of the violent crime in central neighborhoods in this city seems to come from people who know each other having disputes. From that one might conclude that any particular member of the public can reduce their odds of being involved in this sort of incident by not associating with people who resolve their disputes this way. If I had to guess I’d say this statement covers a majority of people in the city.

    Of course that does not mean that members of an isolated clique have a right to assault each other. I do not read Marge’s statement to be saying that and I don’t think anyone here is advocating that position. Your post seems childish for making that connection. There is an obvious difference between categorizing and understanding the nature of a particular type of crime, putting it in context and establishing your own relationship to it, and saying that this crime is justified. It is alarming and unjust, but not without its context. An ordinary member of the public should be concerned, but should not live in fear of these incidents.

  20. I mostly agree with Marge.

    Police are not going to be able to do a Times Square transformational sweep of Cal Anderson Park. It’s a public park. All people are the public. Some will be violent, but I’ve read few reports of a resident transient or homeless person assaulting someone outside of those populations in Cal Anderson (I can think of one, Hallie’s Dad, though I’m sure there are others).

    Perps being roving thugs from out of the area? Sure.

    Are all these communities’ boundaries fluid and often hard to define. Sure.

    But for the most part, the prince lives and plays next to the pauper; to reduce it to a non-PC fairy tale image that gets the point across.

    I’d rather have that then moats between the two.

    More patrol would be great, but unlikely with the realities of SPD budget issues. I do think it is incumbent upon all citizens to be more vigilant in their awareness and personal safety choices around this and other urban parks. In this connected age, sites like this one are a very useful tool towards that end. I’m thankful for CHS, Seattle Crime, and others in their coverage and successful platforms.

  21. Anonymous and Alan:

    I appreciate your perspective, and I don’t think average citizens should walk around scared of their own shadow. My position is that there is a actual problem in Cal Anderson that has gotten progressively worse in the past year or so, which this latest incident is evidence of. Reasonable citizens can also use their voice and mobilize their rights to advocate for change such as some added foot patrols in the park when they observe an issue.

    I think Marge is naive, and if my response to her was harsh I apologize, but I stand by my position that when such people choose to accept patterns of behavior such as this that the situation in question doesn’t improve. Typically they further deteriorate.

  22. So let me get this straight. We need more cops, or more cop patrols in the park. Then you have to have a current utility bill or property deed to show the cops when they ask because only people with homes will be allowed to use the park. Then you’ll have to carry your last 3 pay stubs because only people who make enough money can use the park. I guess like a previous poster said “how does someone loiter in a park?” isn’t that the point?
    I realize everyone has different experiences and feelings, but I live close to the park, walk through it frequently, and hang out as often as I can, and I always feel safe there. I’m not there at night, but like many places in the city I wouldn’t expect to feel as safe there at night. I’ve noticed the homeless kids under the trees during the day and usually they are sleeping or if not, then they’re just as disinterested in me and what I’m doing as I am in them. And look, right over there within eyesight, the HORRORS, a playground! What about the children? You know what? The playground is packed, usually with happy little families spending time enjoying the park as they should.
    I guess my rambling point is I feel everyone has the right to be in the park. Yeah, occasional police presence to keep the blatant crime down is great, but a high, homeless junkie passed out under a tree has as much right to it as a happy kinder swinging in a swing, or my high, happy ass, sitting on the lawn, staring at clouds overhead before walkin to my home.

  23. Devo Dad:
    Your post says, “I’m not there at night, but like many places in the city I wouldn’t expect to feel as safe there at night”. Doesn’t that mean that something or someone is already infringing on your “right to be in the park”? If you’re “not there at night”, how does SPD foot patrols at night infringe on your “right to be in the park”? Doesn’t a safer park expand the hours of the day that you would feel safe in the park, and therefore give you back some of the right to use the space that you’ve already lost?

    Nobody is saying that you won’t be able to use the park except you. Isn’t it a reach to correlate a few added foot patrols in the park to some Hollywood version of a fascist state. Why do you care what SPD does if you’re minding your own business? Isn’t this a story about a kid getting his skull stomped in by some other kid? Isn’t it this sort of incident that people are upset about? I’m a man, as are you, and therefore I have the luxury of feeling safe in most situations. As a man I can’t ever completely understand the more vulnerable position of a woman walking through the park, but I sympathize.

    Some of our local women and mothers no longer feel safe in the park. So my question to you is, do these local women have the right to use the park and feel safe? If they feel unsafe during the day on the playground doesn’t that limit their ability to enjoy the park in the same way that your feeling unsafe there after dark limits yours? You’re right, everybody has a right to be in the park. But nobody has the right to infringe the rights of others.

  24. A working, equitable economy – will you have that in place by my scheduled Wednesday night picnic in the park? If not, I’ll suffer the outrage of police doing police work.

  25. Thank you JSeattle for choosing not to use the label “homeless” or “transient” in your title. Homelessness is not a crime. Please do not associate the two. We all know that homelessness and poverty sometimes correlate with certain behaviors and outcomes and the reasons are complex and often debated.

    Egregious criminal behavior is the problem, and needs to be stopped so that everyone can feel safe in the parks.

    And in my mind, every community needs to make safety a priority for their most vulnerable populations. For me and hopefully any community in which I live, children’s safety must always come first. And I know there are plenty of homeless people who would agree with that.

    Jenny, mom to Finn, 20 months
    Childhood Socioeconomic Status: Poor & at one point in fear of being homeless
    Criminal Record: None
    User of Cal Anderson: 3-5 times a week
    Uncomfortable at Park with Child: Yes
    http://www.twitter.com/rengetsu13

  26. umvue, as I noted above, you will *not* suffer the outrage of police doing police work, at least at higher numbers than now, because there’s no money to pay for them. Seattle employs about one officer for every 455 residents — a ratio that won’t be substantially increasing anytime soon. Au contraire, mon frère.

    Sorry, but building a working, equitable economy won’t be finished in time for your picnic, but that’s an easily moveable feast so why not relocate to the sidewalk in front of the nearby East Precinct HQ? You’ll be safe there and could show your appreciation by sharing your potato salad with the force.

    Our broken country has been a long time coming. Fixing things will take some time. Please be patient, umvue: Rome wasn’t burned in a day.

  27. I agree with you that kids raised in a loving, financially secure home (with two parents IF they have a reasonably good relationship) are more likely to grow up functional, less angry, and much less likely to become criminals. But I think you are naive to hope that there will be more home environments like this in the future…the strong trend is for there to be more dysfunctional families, and this reality is the major reason why our country is on a downhill slide.

    Yes, the government could potentially make the economy “more equitable” (such as ending the tax breaks for rich individuals and corporations), but this is not about to happen anytime soon. In my opinion, it is the personal responsibility of parents to make their families stronger and more stable, and this is something that is sorely lacking in the USA today.

  28. Regardless of whether or not one feels personally unsafe by the antisocial behaviors of some of the park’s cliques, this kind of obnoxious, violent behavior surely casts a pall over the ability of people to enjoy the park environment. Who the hell wants to hang out there when there is fighting, outbursts of anger/profanity, urinating, etc. going on? I sure don’t.

  29. Are we looking at the same report? It says neither victim or attacker are from the area. Does that automatically mean “homeless’. whatever. Im sick of talking about this shite. The violence rose a few months after the condos started popping up. Lets talk about that.

  30. Mel:

    That’s a great point, lets talk about it. If condo dwellers are chucking needles in the bushes, fixing up in the bathrooms, acting aggressive, and beating one another in the park lets prosecute them. By all means, the next time you see a couple guys in Brooks Brothers suits pounding the shit out of each other or passed out with a needle dangling out of their arm in the bathroom stall please notify SPD. That would comical irony.

    People keep trying to frame this debate as a group of yuppies waging war on the homeless. These parent’s aren’t rich, they’re middle class people who believe they have the right to use the park without being harassed.

    My question is, why do people that are causing problems in Cal Anderson, and making these moms feel unsafe get a pass on the bad behavior? Be clear we’re talking about people that are breaking various laws on top of harassing other park goers. Being an asshole is being an asshole, regardless of residential status. There is no war against the homeless, but people with homes as well as people without have a right to use the public space peacefully.

  31. MMA,
    Actually it’s the law that is excluding me from the park at night. Perhaps you haven’t noticed the signs indicating the open hours. I always assumed that the park was closed at night due to a tacit admission by the city that they couldn’t as easily assure the users safety after dark, correct me if I’m wrong. I guess that infringes on the rights of night owls to use the park.
    I didn’t say I don’t use the park, on the contrary I love the park and use it often. I’m just wondering how you would have the police sterilize it enough to appeal to every single nervous mother who doesnt feel safe having their kids around hill life? First it will be the sleeping junkies getting kicked out, next my boyfriend and I will be kicked out for holding hands. There will always be something that makes someone feel uncomfortable or afraid. Focus on the fact that a crime has been committed, not that someone has been offended.
    Yeah, it might be a stretch to equate added foot patrols to a fascist police state-which is why I didn’t equate that. But truth be told I still haven’t regained much trust of the police since the abuses of the WTO, in our neighborhood.

  32. Devo Dad:

    I don’t actually have time to correct all the misrepresentations you’ve made about the exchange between us, so I won’t. The previous comments are there for interpretation if anybody cares to read them at this point, but I doubt anybody does.

    I’m not interested in coddling unreasonable people’s irrational fears, and I haven’t suggested sterilizing the park to do so. You made a good point though, which is to focus on the crime at hand. Let me remind you that my previous posts (unlike your scattered rambling ones) have focused primarily on the crime at hand.

    Nobody is afraid of you and your boyfriend holding hands, and if they’re uncomfortable with that, they are the ones with the problem and clearly live in the wrong neighborhood. Plus two men holding hands isn’t illegal, so I wonder on what grounds SPD could harass you about it. What these mothers have said is that they are afraid because of the harassment, violence, drug use, drug dealing, and public intoxication. Since we are focusing on crime it’s pertinent to note that each of these activities is illegal.

    Again, people are complaining about activities that are illegal, and these illegal activities are the basis for these woman’s fears and discomfort. People’s reaction and level of offense to illegal behavior is extremely relevant to the issue, contrary to your opinion. You could go so far as to say that it is the most relevant contributing factor.

    That said, somebody got the shit kicked out of them the other night, and it’s not an isolated incident, but a pattern at Cal Anderson. It seems like a few added foot patrols is a good idea. Have a nice day.

  33. whoa, relax! no need to point fingers and assign labels (did I mention so-called yuppies?) technically, Im a young urban prof. Im just pointing out that the problem with the rise in crime in this part of cap hill is much more complex than just “the homeless” or “gentrification”. All I can really comment on is my perspective, from which I feel these large condo developments displace residents and physically & socially fragment the community. I used to know most of my neighbors and felt safe walking home late at night. It is really hard to get to know the folks who live at the condo developments on my block. Bad design is also a factor- these buildings might as well be fortresses. Getting back to Cal Anderson- perhaps what is going on there is indicative of a social, economic and environmental change happening all over the hill and that is much too disparate? the homeless have always camped out at Cal. Now, post condos, this area has started to feel like Belltown. Gross.