Forum discusses connections between gentrification and violence on Capitol Hill

The “What’s Gentrification Got To Do With It?: Hate and Violence in Capitol Hill” forum covered “hate, violence, policing and gentrification occurring in Capitol Hill.”

At 12th Avenue Arts Thursday night, the Northwest Network Pink Shield Project hosted a panel discussion on hate violence, policing, and gentrification in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Much of the conversation revolved around the connection between these three topics, including how greater inequality in recent years in Seattle has created a situation that breeds hate violence, whether it be against people of color or the LGBTQIA+ population.

“You have wealth to a certain community increasing, inequality expanding, poverty worsening, homelessness skyrocketing,” Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, a panelist, said. “At the same time, you will see correlated with that, increase in violence, crimes, car break-ins, and house break-ins.”

In 2016, 6,121 hate crimes were reported, a 5% increase from the previous year, according to the FBI. Of those crimes, 1,076 were reportedly based on sexual orientation bias and 124 were based on gender identity bias. In Seattle, reports of bias crimes continue to climb, in part due to increased awareness and improved efforts to encourage reporting.

“These problems are not only not fixed, they are worsened,” Sawant said.

The city council member attributed this heightening tension to gentrification, the process of redevelopment and displacement. In the early 20th century, Capitol Hill was a traditionally mixed neighborhood, but the African-American population was pushed into the Central District by gentrification in the 1960s, according to panelist Roxana Pardo Garcia of the Seattle Community Police Commission.

Gentrification forces former inhabitants of a neighborhood to lose their sense of community, but the panelists posed a number of solutions for this problem, including stable, large-scale affordable social housing owned by the public and collaborations within the community to create safe spaces for marginalized populations.

“As survivors of hate violence, it’s important to have these places to break up the isolating effects that hate violence can have upon people,” moderator Essex Lordes said.

Intertwined with the issues of hate violence and gentrification then comes the policing of the city. Safe Place signage from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) is “being displayed by local supporting community members, businesses, schools and organizations that work closely with the Seattle Police Department in an effort to reduce anti-LGBTQ crimes, reduce LGBTQ student bullying and encourage the reporting of LGBTQ crimes,” according to the SPD website.


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The speakers said they see institutions such as the police department as a means to gentrify the neighborhood. Both speakers and audience members expressed their discomfort with calling the police for help.

“I see, you know, criminalization as another way of displacing our communities,” Lordes said. “Particularly, we know, that folks who are most vulnerable to violence are people who are most likely to be picked up and thrown in a cage.”

Panelist Viviene Mulcahy of Q-Patrol, a coalition of LGBTQIA+ community members working towards establishing a community patrol for Capitol Hill and the Central District, added to this point by saying those who have been prosecuted are much more likely to be evicted from their housing.

As CHS reported in 2016, SPD has revived a force of unarmed community police officers to “handle non-emergency incidents such as neighborhood disputes, investigations, and crime prevention.” This program, which was in effect from 1971 to 2004 as well, is meant to strengthen the bonds between police and the communities they serve. The program, however, remains on hold pending decisions from the Durkan administration and new SPD Chief Carmen Best.

The organizers of the event facilitate an outlet for reporting hate violence experiences online at pinkshieldproject.org.

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10 thoughts on “Forum discusses connections between gentrification and violence on Capitol Hill

  1. ” In the early 20th century, Capitol Hill was a traditionally mixed neighborhood, but the African-American population was pushed into the Central District by gentrification in the 1960s”.
    I thought the CD became black because of redlining and when the Japanese (who were then the majority in the CD) were carted off to internment camps? I don’t believe Capitol Hill was a traditionally mixed neighborhood in the early 1900s. But more importantly, trying to tie that in to the reality 100 years later is a bit of a stretch.
    By the way, did anyone ever get Sawant to condemn the anti-Jewish incidents involving Africatown? She seems to have been really quiet on that. Last I heard, she avoided directly condemning it. It would have been nice if someone had brought up that anti-Jewish and anti-Asian violence and abuse were being ignored and condoned when it was coming from the left and other POC. This conversation seems like the typical propaganda and semi-false narratives
    that have become the norm from the activist community.

    • yes and inreported and am still getting completely harrassed as a jewish woman ..off a building site/airbnb by rightwing kids on a tear..
      my lgbt friends were targeted in the old days in sf..just lhis aggressively..this is not something i had ever seen…

      addressed by their boss who seems to tolerate it..i had to file it all the way up as a hate crime..in madrona…

      i am trying build a prefab studio on my property and every step they harass like that is a game and activity..this is a diverse looking group..muktitacial but all trump supporters and the anger and aggression they unload at someone their never met i guess is a new king of gang ..
      hategroup…
      they bark a dog at me ..and take sound and powertools as intimidation tools after i said no
      and complained..
      k ganz
      kganz.com

      my only hope is the one owner on a property rule for airbnb will make someone stand up and draw a line w them…

  2. LOL @ gentrification = more violence.

    I’m 100% certain that as the CD becomes truly gentrified that there will be less shootings, etc. Might there be more “hate crimes”, etc.? Maybe. Would love to understand what the incident rates look like relative to population growth overall.

  3. ‘ “You have wealth to a certain community increasing, inequality expanding, poverty worsening, homelessness skyrocketing,” Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, a panelist, said. “At the same time, you will see correlated with that, increase in violence, crimes, car break-ins, and house break-ins.” ‘
    So, if you have wealth decreasing in a certain community, crime should be decreasing as well? It’s easy to blame the wealthy people and gentrification, but they are not the ones that are committing these alleged crimes. Sure, they may be tech-bros and what not, but to blame them is asinine.

    “…the panelists posed a number of solutions for this problem, including stable, large-scale affordable social housing owned by the public…”

    Have they seen in other cities how this has turned out? “Projects” or public housing in other cities has not been a success. Singapore has successfully navigated this solution, but here in the U.S. this has been a disaster.

  4. There she goes again. It’s a stretch to say that increasing gentrification causes hate incidents and other crimes. Just because they are occurring at the same time does not mean one causes the other.

  5. Sawant’s obsession with “affordable social housing owned by the public” is risible given her own lack of managerial sense, as most recently evidenced by printing up 4,000 Kshama-Brand posters for a protest that maybe 150 people attended. But Kshama’s gonna fix-it-all, just give her the money and the power.

  6. Sheer, unmitigated stupidity! At spectacles like this, you are witness to the forces that are causing Capitol Hill and the City of Seattle to slowly circle the drain. If you have lived in Seattle for more than a month or two, ask yourself: are things here in Seattle headed in the right direction? If not, what can YOU do about it?

  7. “These problems are not only not fixed, they are worsened,” Sawant said.

    Yeah, that tends to happen when you refuse to adequately staff our police force and ignore pleas for action from the community. Capitol Hill residents, businesses and visitors have been BEGGING the city to address crime and violence on the Hill for years. Guess what we got in return? Some painted crosswalks and crickets chirping. Because policing is bad, and can’t be allowed, and we must also allow the renegade “homeless” to do whatever they please. No duh, things are getting worse. Thanks in large part to Sawant and her co-councilmembers.

    And since she doesn’t remember, because she wasn’t here, in the early 90’s anti-LGBT violence was a commonplace occurrence on the Hill. That’s why Q Street patrolled Broadway and Pike/Pine. It was much better in the ’00’s, until the current council was elected and things started going sideways.

  8. Completely ridiculous. Gentrification results in less crime, plus more services. As a First Hill near Pike Avenue resident the problem is drug addiction and the concomitant crime that brings.

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