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.
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/
SUBSCRIBE TO CHS: Subscribers help pay for the writers and photographers who provide CHS's daily news coverage. Join TODAY to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment. Why support CHS? More here.