Four shootings on Capitol Hill recently took place in the span of four weeks. A black woman was shot to death in Madison Valley. Days before Capitol Hill’s trans pride event, a transgender person was physically attacked.
“It’s striking that all theses incidents are happening in spaces that are supposed to be safe environments,” said Seattle Urban League CEO Pamela Banks, who moderated the event.
Panelists representing diverse populations around Seattle gathered Thursday to discuss gun violence in their communities. It was perhaps the type of wide ranging, “real conversation” that many politicians often plead for around issues of guns and hate crimes but so rarely happen.
Thursday’s panel was organized by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and the Greater Seattle Business Association, Seattle’s LGBTQ chamber of commerce. The event was also part of the national #disarmhate campaign, which seeks to join the issues of LGBTQ rights with gun law reform. The campaign launched in the wake of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June.
- Danni Askini, Gender Justice League
- Pamela Banks, Urban League of Seattle
- Sonja Basha, community activist
- Dr. Ben Danielson, M.D., Odessa-Brown Clinic
- Monisha Harrell, Equal Rights Washington
- Treasure Mackley, Planned Parenthood Votes NW and Hawaii
- Rev. Carey Anderson, First AME Church
To keep the conversation going, the Urban League will be holding a free screening of the documentary Making A Killing: Guns, Greed & the NRA at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center on August 25th at 6 PM. Banks said she is also organizing a larger summit on the issue of gun violence in marginalized communities to be held in September.
“We have a lot of work to do, but we can do it,” said Renee Hopkins, executive director of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “Our motto is ‘gun violence is preventable.'”
22 things CHS heard:
- As a pediatrician in the Central District, Danielson said all of this patients have been touched by gun violence in some way. “We’re in the midst of a crisis of lead poisoning, and I don’t mean that type that’s in drinking water,” Danielson said.
- While discussing how little is done to prevent gun violence, especially in urban areas, Danielson said, “It makes you think what a long person must think about how much a young person values them.”
- Incidents of violence at Planned Parenthood clinics skyrocketed in 2015, according to Mackley. In 2014 there was one incident of clinic violence, in 2015 there were 94.
- Mackley said hateful language directed at Planned Parenthood was inciting an uptick in violence at clinics. “Our words have consequences,” she said.
- Askini on the beating of Michal Volz ahead of Trans Pride this year: “It’s like one degree of separation for 95% of our community … Everyone walks around with that burden everyday.”
- “These acts send a clear signal to our community that were not welcome, that we’re not safe,” Askini said.
- Askini said one of the biggest myths about trans people is that they transition to deceive people. “All trans people are trying to do is … be their most authentic and true self.”
- Easy access to guns is the clear reason why the U.S. has more shootings compared to other countries, said Danielson. “We are not inherently meaner,” he said.
- Basha: “The war on terror globally is a war on Islam globally”
- “(The Capitol Hill massacre) was gun violence towards a group of young queer people that were just having a good time,” said Harrell. “Ten years later we have Orlando.”
- Anderson: “One of the deadliest cocktails one can drink is hatred and access to firearms.”
- Mackley said one of the biggest myths about Planned Parenthood was that patients only come to access abortions, when the truth is 97% of services are for basic comprehensive health.
- “We have to recognize that doing nothing is not an option,” said Harrell. “We are here today to say enough is enough.”
- Basha said violence at the hands of police and military represented the biggest threat to most Mulsims around the world. “Injustice and violence serve those in power,” she said.
- As an out queer Muslim, Basha said she was working to dismantle stereotypes and change dominant narratives about who Muslims and LGBTQ people are.
- Anderson: “You’ve got to hear the stories of the people that are around in your community.”
- Danielson: “We are an increasingly segregated society and thats true in Seattle as much as anywhere else”
- Anderson: “Cell phones are one of the treasures young people can have because you can capture (incidents of violence).”
- “There is a task in front of us … and that is banning assault rifles,” said Seattle Gay News publisher George Bakan.
- Harrell on the media: “I would love for you to recognize that the LGBTQ community does not look like Will and Grace.”
- Danielson said “the niceness in Seattle is paralyzing” when it comes to owning up to racism and racist institutions.
- Askini: “People are not wanting to come to Capitol Hill because violence is increasing here.”