Durkan’s response to Central District gun violence: ‘a multitude of strategies’ including emphasis patrols, social programs, and a new public safety advisor in the mayor’s office

The mayor touring downtown last week as part of the rollout of her pre-summer, seven-neighborhood emphasis program to ” make neighborhoods safer, cleaner, & more vibrant”

In the wake of last week’s shootout at 21st and Union that left a 19-year-old dead and two more people wounded, Mayor Jenny Durkan has been publicly silent about the reignition of gun violence in the Central District even as she and her office’s representatives appeared at two previously scheduled events this week to talk about crime in Seattle.

But behind the scenes, the mayor’s office says it is taking steps as part of a longterm strategy to make the city safer and to do more to address the factors Durkan says are behind the shooting incidents in the Central District.

First, Durkan is adding a respected senior public safety advisor to her staff.

Second, the mayor is convening a “multiple City department” meeting with community groups and “stakeholders” to identify immediate actions and next steps in the neighborhood as well as provide updates on the investigations.

“We must approach public safety in a holistic manner to most effectively address the root causes of gun violence in our communities,” a letter sent this week by Durkan to “community members and organizations concerned with the recent spate of gun violence” and shared with CHS by a representative from her office reads. Continue reading

With District 3 candidates forum season underway, Speak Out Seattle leads with homelessness, displacement in the Central District, and gun violence

The controversial but increasingly influential political group Speak Out Seattle hosted a forum for District 3 city council candidates to discuss issues of homelessness, displacement in the Central District, and gun violence among others over the course of the event that took place Tuesday evening in front of a standing-room only crowd at the Northwest African American Museum.

The first question of the evening from Speak Out Seattle stemmed from an issue that is informing much of this year’s city council races: the failed head tax.

“Look, big business has to do more to pay their fair share,” said Zachary DeWolf, the first out gay Seattle Public Schools board member, also arguing that the head tax has dominated the debate too much. “Everyday we talk about this unsuccessful policy, we have not talked about the other ideas, which are increasing the local estate tax” as well as basing fees and fines on income levels. (DeWolf is the only candidate to have written for CHS)

Council member Kshama Sawant, the Socialist Alternative incumbent, was the sole candidate to voice continued support for the tax. Continue reading

Neighbors say environmental design could be small step to help stop 21st and Union gun violence

While Friday’s murder of 19-year-old Royale Lexing can be clearly tied to an ongoing string of gun violence across the Central District, Capitol Hill, and Seattle, neighbors around the scene of the shootout at 21st and Union are looking at a much more local problem — and maybe solutions.

At Tuesday afternoon’s meeting of District 3 representative Kshama Sawant’s Human Services, Equitable Development, and Renter Rights Committee, Central Neighbors said SPD’s emphasis efforts are welcomed but called on the city to look beyond policing in its efforts to curb gun violence.

They point to a series of shootings around 21st and Union — five different incidents across about 18 months — that indicate that while the violence is tied to citywide and regional issues of crime and inequity, 21st Ave and its place in the heart of the Central District might also be a major factor in the ongoing violence. Continue reading

‘Lost for words’ — Family identifies 19-year-old gunned down on E Union

A fundraiser page to help pay for the 19-year-old’s funeral expenses is here

Family has identified the young man killed Friday afternoon in a Central District shootout at 21st and Union as Royale Lexing.

“We are all lost for words,” a fundraiser page created to help pay his funeral expenses reads. “This handsome, smart, young man did not deserve this! We can all agree Royale kept everyone smiling when he was in your presence.”

Saturday night, family and loved ones gathered at the scene of the shooting and created a memorial of flowers, candles, balloons, a bottle of Hennessy, and a pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. The candles were still burning Sunday morning when CHS visited the scene.

According to court records, Lexing listed a Rainier Valley address as of late last year.

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Multiple victims including one dead in Central District shootout — UPDATE: More shootings overnight

Multiple people were reported shot in a shootout near 21st and Union Friday afternoon including one person reported dead at a nearby hospital.

Shots rang out along E Union just after 3:00 PM in a chaotic scene involving multiple armed suspects and at least three victims.

UPDATE: Police have confirmed that one person was found dead outside Swedish and two more were taken to Harborview in unknown condition.

Police flooded the area looking for at least one suspect seen fleeing in a vehicle.

Some of the victims were taken by private vehicles to nearby Swedish Cherry Hill where police said one person was reported dead via East Precinct radio. Continue reading

Lowrider Baking Company, the Central District’s new cookie shop, moves in at 24th and Union

(Image: Lowrider Baking Company)

The logo of Lowrider Baking Company, a new Central District cookie counter shop, may feature a large wiener dog but its cookies are for humans only.

“It was just a way to combine my obsession with my dogs and my obsession with cookies,” says Lowrider founder and owner Emily Allport, who owns two dachshunds, Smokey and Riley. Now, she also owns a cookie-only bakery space and walk-up counter in The Stencil building on 24th and Union, located in the former Street Treats retail space. Lowrider Baking Company will officially open May 11th.

For two years, Lowrider has been a popular pop-up presence at farmer’s markets and some coffee shops in the South End. In October of last year, Allport made her cookie operation more permanent with a trailer in the Georgetown Trailer Park Mall. There, the bakery has a sign that says “COOKIES,” and in parentheses, “for humans”, though Allport says that “99.9% of the time there is no confusion.” Continue reading

Victim hit in leg in shooting at Central District gas station — UPDATE

Gunfire was reported at 23rd and Cherry and a female with a gunshot wound to the leg was found at 28th and Yesler in another round of East Precinct gun violence Friday night.

SPD was called to the area of the AMPM at 23rd and Cherry just after 8:30 PM where they found shell casings but no victim. Minutes later, a female was reported with a gunshot wound to her upper leg at 28th and Yesler where she had driven after being shot at the service station, according to East Precinct radio dispatches.

UPDATE: Police say the victim is an adult who drove herself to 28th and Yesler where she flagged down an ambulance.

UPDATE 5/4/2019 8:52 AM: Police say the victim appears to have been caught in the crossfire of a shootout at the intersection: “Investigators learned that the victim was at the gas station getting gas when gunfire was exchanged between several people and vehicles. It appears that the victim struck by gunfire was uninvolved in the dispute and was the unintended target.”

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United States Postal Service weighing two options for new Central District post office

At a meeting Thursday at the Garfield Community Center, a United States Postal Service representative, flanked by Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, laid out two likely Central District options for permanently replacing the former location on 23rd Ave vacated as a major housing and retail development moves in.

“We know that post offices are a vital part of any healthy community,” Sawant said before quickly pivoting to the issue of high rents and displacement. Her staffers were handing out packets on her rent control proposal prior to the meeting. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Seattle May Day 2019 marches for immigrants and workers — with stops at The Chateau, new youth jail… and the Broadway Whole Foods

With reporting and pictures by Alex Garland

With a third straight year of a mostly calm and peaceful day of awareness and protest, May Day in Seattle has evolved into an annual march for immigrants and workers mixed with a tour of the latest progressive hotspots around the Central District, Capitol Hill, and downtown like the The Chateau apartments, the county’s youth jail, and, yes, the new Amazon Whole Foods at Broadway and Madison.

2019’s May Day March for the Rights of Immigrants and Workers again crossed Capitol Hill and again brought out a massive and heavily equipped police presence, boarded up windows at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, and a small, mostly insignificant party of trolling “counter protesters to the neighborhood’s streets. But the years of clashes between protesters beyond the march and police that frequently ended up pushed back up Capitol Hill appear to be — for now — a thing of the past. Continue reading

Born on E Madison, the Central District’s Twilight Exit marks 20 years

(Image: Twilight Exit)

We don’t know what May Day 1999 was like in Seattle — the WTO protests and “Battle of Seattle” would happen four months later — but we can tell you that on E Madison, the Twilight Exit was born.

This May Day, now resident on E Cherry where it has done its drinking and hanging out thing since 2008, the Twilight celebrates 20 years of Central Seattle good times.

As owner Stephan Mollmann noted to CHS, “She turns 20 today. One more year and she can drink.”

The original Twilight Exit moved from E Madison to E Cherry 11 years ago. Today, a six-story apartment building stands at the original site across from the 22nd/Madison Safeway. Continue reading