LGBTQ youth shelter and nighttime shuttle for Capitol Hill get support at anti-violence forum

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(Images: Alex Garland)

unnamed-8A public forum to address LGBTQ violence on Capitol Hill drew what organizers said was around 300 people to Capitol Hill’s All Pilgrims Church Tuesday night. The city’s mayor joined in and spoke as did many trans residents who shared stories of violent attacks.

City Council member Kshama Sawant organized the forum to find solutions to making Capitol Hill feel safer for the neighborhood’s LGBT community in the wake of several high profile attacks over the past year. The first-year council member and candidate to lead the new District 3 focused on economic inequality as a driver of anti-gay violence in a preview of the forum with CHS.

Building a new LGBT youth shelter on Capitol Hill was one proposal that drew repeated applause through the night Tuesday. Sawant said she would do “everything in my power” to get money for a shelter in the city budget.

Jackie Sandberg, who works for Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets, drew a standing ovation for sharing personal stories about the dangers homeless queer youth face in the neighborhood.

“Street culture is not kind to queers,” Sandberg said. 

Having spent the last 31 years living, working, and going out on Capitol Hill, Mayor Ed Murray offered some historical perspective on the fight for LGBT safety in the neighborhood. “We walked these streets and were in these rooms when our friends were dying of AIDS,” he said. “In each situation, hope came out of that.”

An idea for a nighttime shuttle is apparently coming to fruition. Shaun Knittel of Social Outreach Seattle announced a nine-passenger shuttle would start running March 18th to get people home from the Pike/Pine area.

Whether or not LGBTQ people should be encouraged to report more crimes to the police was one issue that drew some controversy during the two-hour forum. Some of the speakers said increased reporting was key to catching repeat offenders and gathering more robust incident data. Others said that the LGBTQ homeless population is frequently the victim of police harassment, even when they go to report crimes.

At NW Network, a group that seeks to end LGBTQ abuse, a phone line has been setup to gather anonymous information on bias incidents and hate crimes (PDF). A representative from the group encouraged people to report any type of LGBTQ-targeted incident, from violent attacks to street harassment.

Sawant told CHS organizers did not invite any Seattle Police Department officials to speak at the forum so people who feel intimidated by police could speak more freely. An SPD spokesperson said a police representative did attend the meeting.

Posters from the #caphillpsa campaign covered the walls during the forum and were made available for attendees to take home.

Sawant, who is running for District 3 representing Capitol Hill, the Central District and nearby neighborhoods, talked about her connection to the area having moved here after years of bouncing around other cities.

“It was only until I came to Capitol Hill that I felt at home,” she said. “I have a stake in this process as a person who really values our urban areas.”

The Seattle Channel recorded the forum and plans to air it Friday, a representative said. It should be online at seattlechannel.org soon.

UPDATE 3/5/2015: The video of the forum is now available online:

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13 thoughts on “LGBTQ youth shelter and nighttime shuttle for Capitol Hill get support at anti-violence forum

  1. I think the shuttle sounds like a good idea but unless I missed something in the prior article or this one is the shuttle specifically for LGBTQ residents? Two other things: I am not seeing how income inequality means jack in regards to violence against LGBTQ people. Specific individuals who are homophobic probably don’t give a rats what socioeconomic level an LGBTQ person is and its likely most gang members are not LGBTQ friendly regardless who the person is.Last, although it is a popular sentiment in activists circles to hate cops, a lot of community members who interact with several SPD cops in the course of community service would point out that several cops are very supportive of local communities. I’d like to hear recent, up to date specific instances of police harassment of LGBTQ people on Capitol Hill rather than the usual vague anti cop allegations. Otherwise, ya got nothin but a bullhorn and a youtube video you want to look cool in. I agree with reporting in regard to getting repeat or violent offenders off the streets. Otherwise people are just sending them on to their next victim.

  2. I don’t really get the gentrification-gaybash connection either (and I like Sawant). Maybe there are some dots to be connected somewhere, but I can’t think of any.

    • I don’t think there are dots to connect, unequal income distribution is her issue and she likes to stick with it. The well-off families buying homes on Capitol Hill and the young tech workers renting are far from being gay bashers, in fact we are gay-friendly or in a gay household.

      • Classic politics. She’s trying to attach her socialist message as a solution to the gay bashing incidents on the Hill. Given that she’s running for District 3, this seems to be a smart political play for her. Hopefully most people see through her newfound concern.

    • Not speaking for Sawant as I didn’t attend, but I think the dots to be connected are that a society of haves and have nots is a factor in have nots bring more likely to commit crime. And some people on Capitol Hill (and visiting the Hill) are perceived as (and some actually are) haves.

      It is not a justification for crime, nor would she posit it as such. It is a factor. So it should be addressed to help address crime on a systemic level. Capitol Hill, lgbtq or otherwise , is perceived as a location of conspicuous consumption.

      As for actions to take based on this, I am interested in short and long term solutions, including not just reducing crime in Capitol Hill but in other neighborhoods.

      How many Sawant bashing commenters here went to thus event or watched the recording linked above?

  3. That was worse then I thought. So apparently fighting Lgntq violence requires us to enact a leftist wishlist. The social out reach guy was the only reasonable person.

  4. No one suggested that the well to do LGBTQ people and their allies on the hill are the ones to blame. I don’t know why / how anyone even construed that. The suggestion of income inequality and affordable housing being factors that negatively impact LGBTQ people at the extreme margin was part of the discussion. The fact young LGBTQ people are disproportionately represented in our homeless population and the homeless population across the country is a CLEAR indicator of why income inequality and affordable housing needs to be tied to this subject. Some of you really scare easily when you hear the word “socialist.” It’s not needed.

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