Anti-LGBTQ violence prompts self-defense classes in Volunteer Park

9U0A5911Around 20 people gathered in Volunteer Park on Sunday for the first in a series of self-defense classes being offered in the park this summer. The outdoor seminar is free and open to all, but specifically geared towards the LGBTQ community and people of color. With the recent assault of a trans person on Capitol Hill during Pride weighing heavily on the minds of attendees, organizers said the need to prepare for such attacks is an unfortunate reality.

“It really breaks my heart to see violence in this community and I’m just so tired of it,” said instructor Brendan Ng, who organized the class along with two other martial arts practitioners. The fist class was primarily attended by women.

One attendee, who gave her name as Sterling, said that while she has never felt “super, super unsafe” on Capitol Hill, she has been in some dangerous situations and heard about gruesome attacks, such as the anti-trans beating in June, that prompted her to attend the seminar. “I realized, ‘Oh, that could be me,’ and I thought I should learn how to defend myself,” she said.

A bartender who will soon be starting a bartending gig on Capitol Hill said she came because she thought learning some technical skills would give her increased peace of mind. There have been several past experiences that made her feel unsafe, she said.

“I’m a queer-identified woman and a member of the bartending community, and I close the bar alone a lot,” she said. “Being a bartender, working late nights, I thought it would be good to strengthen myself.”

Another attendee, who gave his name as Danny, said he has two close friends who have been assaulted on Capitol Hill in just the past few weeks — assaults he suspects had anti-LGBTQ motives. He said he has heard about other hate crimes on the Hill, and was assaulted by a previous partner.

The class on Sunday was the first in a series of five that will be offered in the park this summer. It focused on good techniques for falling, some basic strikes, and some strategies for disarming an attacker who has a weapon.

Seattle Police are continuing to investigate the assault of Michael Volz, who was attacked June 22nd after leaving a Capitol Hill benefit for the victims of the mass shooting at an Orlando gay night club. The incidents prompted an increase to the number of officers assigned to patrols and Pride events last week.

Weather permitting, Ng will offer the remaining four self-defense classes in Volunteer Park at 1 PM on July 17 and 31, August 21, and September 4. To learn more about the self-defense seminar or to contact the organizers, visit the Summer Self-Defense Series Seattle Facebook page.

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