Seattle now has an anti-discrimination hotline

An effort to better document and respond to discrimination in the city includes a new Seattle hotline to call if you have been the victim of harassment:

Whether at home, at work, or in a public place, everyone is protected from discriminatory harassment.  Discriminatory harassment or violence is behavior that interferes with your civil rights and is directed at you because of your race, religion, gender and/or gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, and more.  It can include: threats, slurs or epithets, intimidation or coercion, violence or use of force, damaging or defacing property and cyberbullying.

Reporting discriminatory harassment is easy, and can be done anonymously.  Call the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) to get started at 206-233-7100 or CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT OUR ONLINE COMPLAINT FORM

Officials say the hotline is an effort to augment existing public safety services — so definitely call 911 to report or a crime or if there is a dangerous situation. The hotline provides another avenue to make sure issues beyond law enforcement can be raised as quickly as possible.

Last month, CHS reported on SPD’s new bias crimes statistics dashboard and trends that capture the increase in reported incidents — thanks, in part, to a greater emphasis on reporting racial, sexual orientation, or religious harassment issues. Citywide in both 2016 and 2015, hate crimes against race were the most frequently reported followed by LGBTQ and religious incidents.

Officials from the Seattle Office for Civil Rights said the new hotline is also being accompanied by meetings with community groups and a media campaign to make sure citizens are aware of the resource.

You can learn more at

New bias crime dashboard shows increase in reports of Seattle hate violence

Hate crime data for Seattle is now more transparent and readily available to the public with Seattle Police Department’s recently launched Bias/Hate Crime Data dashboard.

Previously SPD provided reports to the City Council and the public twice per year.

“(The dashboard) gives people a little bit more information in real time and allows them to conduct their own analysis,” Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, SPD spokesperson, told CHS.

Shaun Knittel, with Social Outreach Seattle, is the chair of the SPD’s LGBTQ Advisory Council, and often meets with the victims of hate crimes.

“I cannot tell you how many people have no clue about the actual numbers; I’m really happy SPD is putting this out there,” Knittel told CHS. Continue reading

Police search for information after wave of Central District anti-black attack reports

Seattle Police are asking for help gathering information after multiple reports of hate crimes around the Central District spread Wednesday.

UPDATE 7/14/16 4:10 PM: SPD says it has made contact with the victim and a hate crime investigation has been opened. The Stranger has the basic details of the report:

A black woman was physically attacked by a group of white men at the intersection of 31st Street and Jackson Street along Frink Park around 5 p.m. on Tuesday. She had just gotten off a bus with her six-year-old son.

“Social media made it seem like there was a roving group of people who had committed multiple crimes. As far as we know, this is the only report,” an SPD spokesperson told the paper. CHS confirmed with SPD Thursday afternoon that police are now in contact with the victim.

Original report: In the reports, a group of white males is said to have attacked black people at different locations around the Central District. SPD turned to Twitter to ask people to come forward with any information that could assist investigations:

This account was sent to us Wednesday morning. We have been working to find out more about it through the day.

This account was sent to us Wednesday morning. We have been working to find out more about it through the day.

In one account sent to us, a woman said her friend and another person were attacked and beaten Tuesday around 6 PM near E Yesler and that the incident was reported to police.

SPD public information representatives said they can’t find any details of an attack at that time and location and publicly available dispatch records don’t show anything similar in the neighborhood.

In addition, our review of radio traffic in the East Precinct around the hours the attack was reported don’t include any assaults nearby.

The reports come at a time of heightened tensions over policing and the black community following more deadly shootings of black men by police and the deadly attack on police officers in Dallas. Seattle, meanwhile, is in the midst of ongoing attempts to reform its police force as a new labor contract with the department’s Seattle Police Office Guild’s 1,250 members is being finalized. Continue reading

Seattle Police investigate another Pride bashing on Capitol Hill

(Image: Poco)

(Image: Poco)

An employee of E Pine’s Poco Wine and Spirits was severely beaten in a Pride weekend attack that Seattle Police detectives are investigating as a hate crime. (UPDATE: Poco tells us the person who was attacked is a manager at the venue not an owner as documented in the SPD report on the incident. “Owners Tramale and Jackie are fine, but we were all troubled by what happened,” a Poco rep tells CHS.)

According to the East Precinct report on the assault, the male victim left the Cuff around 11:30 PM on Saturday, June 25th and was walking alone on E Pine when he was approached by an unknown male. The victim told police the suspect walked up, called him a faggot, and punched him in the face.

The victim suffered “significant” injuries from the single punch including “swelling, bruising and cuts around his left eye” and a scraped left shoulder, police said. The victim told police he could not remember what had happened immediately following the punch and may have lost consciousness. Continue reading

Anti-LGBTQ violence prompts self-defense classes in Volunteer Park

9U0A5911Around 20 people gathered in Volunteer Park on Sunday for the first in a series of self-defense classes being offered in the park this summer. The outdoor seminar is free and open to all, but specifically geared towards the LGBTQ community and people of color. With the recent assault of a trans person on Capitol Hill during Pride weighing heavily on the minds of attendees, organizers said the need to prepare for such attacks is an unfortunate reality.

“It really breaks my heart to see violence in this community and I’m just so tired of it,” said instructor Brendan Ng, who organized the class along with two other martial arts practitioners. The fist class was primarily attended by women.

One attendee, who gave her name as Sterling, said that while she has never felt “super, super unsafe” on Capitol Hill, she has been in some dangerous situations and heard about gruesome attacks, such as the anti-trans beating in June, that prompted her to attend the seminar. “I realized, ‘Oh, that could be me,’ and I thought I should learn how to defend myself,” she said. Continue reading

Police investigate E Pike beating following Orlando benefit show as anti-trans hate crime

Police are investigating the reported beating of a person leaving a Capitol Hill benefit for Orlando Wednesday night as as a hate crime.

Friends and supporters have donated more than $10,000 to help support Michael Volz during recovery from injuries in Wednesday night’s reported anti-trans beating at 11th and Pike:

Dear community, It is with a heavy heart, deep sadness, and great rage, that I let you know our dear friend Michael M Volz was assaulted last night on capitol hill. Michael, myself, and a group of friends attended the fundraiser to benefit the pulse massacre last night at Neumos. Michael left a little bit before everyone to walk to their car and get ready for work in the morning. As Michael was walking to their car, they past the rose, and were approached by a white man in an orange sweatshirt with scruffy brown hair. The man said to Michael, Happy Pride, and began to assault Michael. As he, was punching and choking Michael, he said, “show me your tits you tranny cunt” Michael some how made it back to their house. Michael contacted myself and their friend Sharon. Sharon drove Michael to the hospital and I met them at the Emergency Room. Currently, michael is home. They have some stitches, abrasions, and a lot of bruising. We will need food and people willing to spend time with Michael over the weekend. Currently, we have care situated until early tomorrow afternoon. If you are available to bring food or company please contact us!

Michael wanted me to attach pictures because this is what transphobia looks like. pictures in comments.

Queer Tears
Queer Rage
Queer Feelings
Queer Resilience

According to Seattle Police, officers responded to a vehicle carrying the victim to investigate the incident around 2:15 AM Thursday morning. Police records show the beating was reported to have happened around 11:30 PM Wednesday night near 11th and E Pike following the Let Your Love Shine: A Queer Benefit For Orlando at Neumos.

UPDATE 4:45 PM: At a Friday afternoon media conference in Cal Anderson before the start of the 2016 Trans* Pride rally and march, Volz, who was still showing wounds from the attack, was accompanied by around 100 supporters and said the attack is part of “a climate of hate” against trans people.

“This is not an isolated incident, this is something that happens to our community frequently and we’re not going to take it anymore,” Volz said.

Volz said they were encouraged by all the people who have offered support.

“It is what great sadness and anger, quite frankly, that I have to stand here,” said SPD Deputy Chief Carmen Best.

Volz was joined by trans activist Danni Askini,founder of the Gender Justice League, who called on people to reject anti-trans bills in the state.

“All of us are in shock and fearful,” Askini said.

“Part of our efforts to do things like Trans Pride Seattle is to create community and solidarity so that people do not feel isolated,” Askini said.

Best said police have not identified a suspect and there is no known video from nearby businesses showing the incident.

Despite the number of Safe Places near the location of the attack, Best said it was not a reflection that the LGBTQ safety program was not working.


UPDATE 12:40 PM: Police announced Friday afternoon that the FBI is assisting the investigation of the crime and provided new details of the attack: Continue reading

Seattle schools are now LGBTQ Safe Places, too

(Image: City of Seattle)

(Image: City of Seattle)

“While we see a rolling back of civil rights protections for LGBTQ people in some corners of the country, Seattle remains inclusive and welcoming to all people.”

The SPD program launched on Capitol Hill in 2015 for businesses and organizations to provide safe haven for victims and raise awareness of anti-LGBTQ hate crime is now in place across the city’s school system.

All 98 Seattle Public Schools will now be Safe Places.

“While we see a rolling back of civil rights protections for LGBTQ people in some corners of the country, Seattle remains inclusive and welcoming to all people,” Mayor Ed Murray said in an announcement on the new rollout for the program. “SPD Safe Place brings together businesses, community organizations, and the public to stand up against hate and intolerance. I applaud Seattle Public Schools for bringing this important program to our schools, empowering students to speak out against anti-LGBTQ harassment.”

Known for its rainbow bad stickers, the program also includes which is designed as a portal with information about bias crimes and prevention along with tools to help victims report incidents.

To be part of the program, participants must pledge to prepare their businesses as safe harbors for victims and train employees:

By signing this commitment pledge I agree to use these decals/signs for their intended purpose by posting them on my premise. I further agree to instruct my organization’s employees to assist the victims and/or witnesses to anti-LGBTQ crimes by calling the police on their behalf and allowing them to remain on my premise until police arrive.

You can sign up to get the decals here.

“Our district is proud to partner with the City and the Seattle Police Department to make all of our schools Safe Places,” Seattle Public Schools superintendent Larry Nyland said. “This is a continuation of our commitment to ensuring all our students feel safe and equal in our schools”

SPD says the Safe Place program has now reached 1,600 locations across the city.

Tech bros, affordability, and mental health — ‘the end of the line for Seattle’s gay neighborhood’

This ‘Not one more’ march against anti-queer violence on Capitol Hill last June showed there still some fight left in the gayborhood (Image: CHS)

This ‘Not one more’ march against anti-queer violence on Capitol Hill last June showed there still some fight left in the gayborhood (Image: CHS)

As “My husband Michael and I were recently out on a Saturday night and were walking around the Pine/Pike Corridor. And we looked at each other and said: my God, what happened to the gays? Literally, who are all of these straight people in our neighborhood?”

That’s from a Capitol Hill resident most of us know as Mayor Ed Murray quoted by a US-based writer for British newspaper The Guardian in a story headlined Violence in Capitol Hill: is this the end of the line for Seattle’s gay neighborhood?

It’s a bummer read:

Although Seattle is one of the “gayest” city in America – recently released census data shows the city of Seattle saw a 52% increase in same-sex couples from 2010 to 2012 – the Capitol Hill neighborhood saw a 23% decline of LGBT people living there during the same period. Meanwhile, rents have also gone up by more than 33%, according to Zillow.

As much as it is a story about hate crime, it is also a story of economics: Continue reading

Neighbours arson case finally drew to close in 2015

Two years ago this New Year’s Eve, Capitol Hill nearly suffered a horrific tragedy. More than 700 people were partying to ring in 2014 when an arsonist set Broadway’s iconic gay dance club on fire. No one was seriously injured inside Neighbours that night thanks to fast acting staff and patrons who were able to douse the flames before they spread to the packed dance floor.

As the crime drifts into the neighborhood’s history as a sad reminder of the dangers of hate and mental illness, the case against the troubled former Capitol Hill resident who tried to burn the club down didn’t end until 2015. Continue reading

30-month federal hate crime sentence in Capitol Hill knife attack

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.28.46 PMThe Department of Justice announced Monday afternoon that the 38-year-old man convicted of a federal hate crime for a January attack on Capitol Hill has been sentenced to two and a half years in jail.

Prosecutors said Troy Deacon Burns threatened three men with a knife while yelling homophobic slurs near Harvard and Pike in the January 25th attack. Because the knife “travelled in interstate commerce,” prosecutors charged the defendant in federal court.

Burns faced up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The defendant reached a plea agreement in August and “admitted that just after midnight on Jan. 25, 2015, he attacked three gay men who were walking in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood,” the DOJ announcement reads.

According to investigators, Burns had been living in shelters, is addicted to drugs, and was on Capitol Hill to sell meth the night of the crime.

The hate crime case helped spark a wave of concern this year about anti-gay bias crimes on Capitol Hill. This summer, Mayor Ed Murray’s LGBTQ task force released a report with recommendations for strengthening the gay community and increasing safety in the city. Other efforts underway include SPD’s Safe Place program and a new nighttime LGBTQ safety shuttle.

The full DOJ announcement is below.

A Bremerton, Washington, man has been sentenced to 30 months in prison following his conviction of a federal hate crime, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington. Continue reading