A blast from the past: Q Patrol resurfaces on Capitol Hill

Long ago, a group roamed Capitol Hill’s streets at night to protect their community alongside police. Now, a new Q Patrol takes shape, readying its members to de-escalate and assist those facing discrimination, violence, and hate crimes — without the Seattle Police Department.

“A core focus is empowering other queers and other marginalized groups of people,” said Emma, a Q Patrol member. For this story, CHS agreed to not use the full names of members for their safety and security. “We think police are the problem. We’re not trying to antagonize them per se.”

Despite the Q Patrol name, this group is not a vigilante group. They say they don’t want to punish anyone. The Q Patrol is about harm reduction.

The revamped Patrol has only been around for a year and is not yet equipped to go out on the streets. They’re still recruiting and training community members. Those who train the Q Patrol are people who volunteer to do so with experience in specific relevant fields. In its early days, the patrol only has a little over 10 consistent members.

“Eventually, hopefully, if people see our faces they will know us and trust us,” Nels, another Q Patrol member, said. “Face value is like a lost art.”

Q Patrol also aims to be inclusive. They wouldn’t keep walking if they saw people getting into a fight even if it was two straight, white dudes. Allies are also welcome to join the patrol.

The Q Patrol focuses on community building, and their closest thing to patrolling right now is putting up flyers for outreach. They’re also in need of funds. Nels personally wants to do more outreach to LGBTQIA+ people with disabilities and people of color. The Q Patrol is 18+ but they’re hesitant to bring in people under 21 because they will be bar-hopping. They’re also needing people with all kinds of skills.

“Scheduling spaces, making posters, mostly just used for meeting space and unsexy things like that,” DeAnne said. “The easy thing to do would be to find people who are already trained and have them do Q Patrol but that doesn’t build capacity for marginalized people.”

The people behind Q Patrol say the group rose out of a response to gentrification and then the election added fuel to the fire.

Classes have or will include self defense training, medic training, de-escalation training, security for events and protests, being peacekeepers, overdose response and Narcan training. The Q Patrol also hopes to gather info on frequent agitators so they could recognize them on the street and keep an eye out.

They hope to be in some sort of uniform one day, but for now they’ll likely settle on bandanas. Ideally, they’ll patrol Capitol Hill’s nightlife by this summer.

Emma said the rainbow badges seen in businesses throughout Seattle as part of the Safe Place program for the LGBTQIA+ community are actually damaging. Emma said if someone walks into a business, workers must call the police, keep the victim on premises and tell the police where the person went if they left.

With a stop at Charlie’s, SPD rolls out Safe Place anti-hate crime program

Officer Ritter and Doug Vitaly of the LGTBQ Task Force introducing the new Safe Space program in 2015 (Image: CHS)

Nels said Safe Place is built with the police in mind and not the victims.

“Marginalized groups do not feel comfortable calling or even talking with the police, and so we respect that and we’re aware that policing and gentrification is part of the problem, why there’s so much tension on the streets,” they said. Nels also attributed rising tension to Seattle’s tech boom. “We just want to respect what the majority of the community finds for the police. Fact is, a lot of people don’t find the police to be safe, even if there’s Safe patches everywhere. I believe queers have the right to be skeptical about those things.”

SPD’s LGBTQ Liaison Officer Jim Ritter tells CHS that nobody should be detained by a Safe Place business.

“If the victim chooses to leave,” Ritter said, “we request the premise employee re-contact 911, give a direction of travel, physical and clothing description of the victim, any injuries observed, and if there are any suspects still in the area (and their descriptions). At no time are any victims to be restrained, or otherwise forced to remain in the premise.”

“The identity politics of its leadership and police force is irrelevant,” said DeAnne, another member of Q Patrol. “And I doubt we’re going to see a day where that’s controlled by the public with the taxes that fund it. I don’t think we consider police force any part of the solution. That’s why we’re here right now. There needs to be some sort of solution outside of the police so we hope to bridge that gap.”

Q Patrol holds regular training sessions. You can learn more at facebook.com/QPatrolSeattle/


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4 thoughts on “A blast from the past: Q Patrol resurfaces on Capitol Hill

  1. “We think police are the problem.”

    Mmm….that’s not a very great attitude for a group which needs to work WITH the police.

  2. For someone who has lived on Capitol Hill for 17 years and remembers the Q patrol very clearly this is just ASS Backwards…I am hoping it’s just the way the article was written but they don’t sound like a very community based group. At this rate I would prefer Phoenix Jones at least he wasn’t pointing fingers. Just a heads up you need to involve the police if you want to track things not just “talk things out”. If they want to actually take care of the problem they might want to change their tone. At this point they remind me of the school yard bully.

  3. At least someone is trying to help. If they had been around in 2010 walking around 1818 harvard ave when my stalker with many friends harassed and humiliated me behind my back in public and videoed me in my bedroom with the help of my roommate!!! I hope that my 10 years of stalking g would have stopped, hopefully it will for others cause they are relentless. Thanks for looking out for people, most people just don’t want to be involved.

  4. As a, now retired, SPD officer who helped train the Q-Patrol’s bike squad back in the late ’90s, I was saddened to read the anti-police attitude expressed in the article by representatives of the Q-Patrol’s reincarnation. I remember the training as a positive experience. If I recall correctly, the Seattle Q-Patrol was the first gay crime prevention patrol in the country to be bicycle trained by a police department. It’s too bad anti-police sentiment has become reflexive on the left due to a potent mythology that doesn’t deserve the media attention, and promotion, it’s gotten. Still, welcome back Q-Patrol. I hope it works out for you.