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Community leaders look at hate on Capitol Hill — Night march planned this week


UPDATE: Thursday August 29th’s event has been postponed due to weather.

This summer’s spike in violent crime around Capitol Hill has included a disturbing companion — hate. CHS talked to gay community leaders about what is happening and this week’s march against the violence on the streets of Capitol Hill.

“I think there’s a number of things that we have to remember,” said George Bakan, editor-in-chief of Seattle Gay News and head of the Capitol Hill Community Council. “The Hill has grown, there’s a higher density of population.”

Bakan said this population boom may have made cell phone and wallet robberies more enticing, as there are a wider range of people for thieves to target.

“There’s the endless cycle of people trying to get money for their drug habits,” he said.

But this wave of robberies has been accompanied by something more sinister. There have been several apparent gay bashing incidents around the Hill, including a robbery at 23rd Avenue E and E John Street in July and a beating on Summit Av E earlier this month.

Social Outreach Seattle co-founder Shaun Knittel said he believes the two spikes in crime are closely related — outsiders targeting the community for robberies and assaults, sometimes expressing homophobic views.

“I think some outside influences have figured out that the gay community as a whole is a peaceful community,” he said. “They’ve figured out that they can hit and run pretty quick and get away.”

TAKE BACK THE NIGHT | A Peaceful March and Candlelight Vigil Against Violence
THURSDAY, AUGUST 29th — 10 PM — Starts at Broadway/Roy
Social Outreach Seattle (SOSea), the social justice nonprofit that has been working with the community in ways to make the Hill a little more safe at night, is organizing a peaceful reaction to the violence happening on the Hill. Please join us August 29, 10 p.m. as we march with candles in hand to send a message to criminals that our NEIGHBORHOOD BELONGS TO US, NOT CRIME and TAKE BACK THE NIGHT and our NEIGHBORHOOD from the grip of fear that has crept in.This peaceful protest is organized by SOSea ( in cooperation with The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Abbey of St. Joan. We are CALLING ON any PERSON, GROUP, CHURCH, ORGANIZATION, SPORTS TEAM (you get the picture) to march in solidarity with us as we denounce this violence and show that we are stronger in numbers and that violence is not welcome here.LOCATION: Meet at Roy and Broadway (you will see the group of people, hopefully hundreds). We will pass out candles and say a few words, talk about safety, and then march south on Broadway, turn left on Pine and march east towards 13th, turn right and march South to Pike, turn right and march west to Broadway, turn right and march North toward Pine, turn right and enter Cal Anderson Park where we will join up and observe a moment of silence for the victims of violent crime, hold our candles high to illuminate the city park that has had so much crime take place lately and then sing a song for peace.DATE/TIME: August 29, 10 p.m. meet at Roy and Broadway
Bring signs that show support of the event
Invite everyone you know (this is not a gay vs. straight thing)
SHOW UP AS YOU ARE. If you are a drag queen, come in drag. If you play for a sport’s team, show up in uniform. In other words, lets show just how diverse and beautiful our Cap Hill community really is.
Promote violence, show up with the intention of causing trouble, try to change the message to something else.
Please don’t foolishly skip out on this important community response to violence. If we don’t do something now it will get worse.

Knittel said that of Social Outreach Seattle’s 15 founding members, five have become victims of robberies and assaults on Capitol Hill.

Bakan and Knittel both expressed gratitude for the Seattle Police Department’s handling of the situation, though they wish more could be done.

“In recent weeks and months they have renewed their effort to be responsive,” Bakan said.

“They work very well with us,” Knittel said. “I’ve seen the concern.”

Both said they hope to see greater police presence, especially around Cal Anderson Park where many of the incidents have taken place.

“I as a proud gay man have an issue with crime in a park that is named after a gay hero,” Knittel said.

Rough Summer — A handful of incidents around the Hill include allegations of homophobia, racism

Knittel said he believes SPD’s hands are tied in regards to addressing the issue of violence in Capitol Hill as crime stats appear to trend higher, criticizing City Hall’s response to the problem.

The Seattle Times reported last week that City Attorney Pete Holmes has said the city’s hands are tied and that he can’t file criminal charges against 28 repeat offenders of “quality-of-life” violations, who had ignored civil citations such as drinking in public and loitering. Though these offenders were in Seattle’s downtown, Knittel said he feels the same problems are happening around Capitol Hill as well.

“There needs to be some clarity here, are we asking people to follow the law or are we not?,” he said.

Earlier this month, city officials announced a $400,000 injection to boost policing in Seattle’s crime trouble spots and additional measures like leaving the lights on at Cal Anderson Park overnight in an attempt to curb violent crime in the area.

Greater Seattle Business Association president Louise Chernin said the organization, which promotes businesses within Seattle’s gay community and recently opened its LGBT Visitors Center on Broadway, is still working to gather information about the recent influx of attacks on the Hill.

“All of this has been unfolding in the last few weeks,” she said. “We don’t right now have a step by step response.”

Chernin said people should be more careful about walking alone at night, hoping that the community can organize block watches and other neighborhood efforts.

“Our community has always been about taking care of ourselves,” she said.

“We’re people who will fight back, but not necessarily in a physical way,” he said, referring to the efforts Social Outreach Seattle has taken to prevent violence on Capitol Hill. They have put up posters around the hill with the phrase “no one walks alone,” on the wall at popular nightlife spots such as the Comet Tavern, Wild Rose and Neighbours.

Now, Social Outreach Seattle is hoping to fight back with a candlelight march this Thursday, August 29 starting at 10 PM at Broadway and Roy.

“This has been the easiest thing I’ve ever planned as an activist,” Knittel said. “People are fed up.”

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19 thoughts on “Community leaders look at hate on Capitol Hill — Night march planned this week

  1. I know the organizers of this event mean well and have an important message, but in my opinion they are “preaching to the choir.” I doubt very much that the amoral thugs who are committing these crimes pay any attention to a candlelight march, or if they do they are not going to be influenced in any way.

    What is needed is more effective policing in our neighborhood….more cops walking a beat especially, including late at night when most of the muggings occur. And also more aggressive prosecution of those who are caught, with a focus on repeat offenders.

    • Exactly. Why are there no cops walking down Broadway, where you see drug-induced public freak outs on a daily basis? The neighborhood has also become so desirable because these kids know they can get away with it so easily. You NEVER see foot patrols of the area.

    • The problem is also with the community. I heard some robberies that happened in front of groups of people and no one did anything to step in or assist the person who was being robbed.

      Raising awareness in our own community will help with telling people, if you see something say something. People need to be active in their own communities to make it a better place to live. Ignoring the heroin addict shooting up in a public park, isn’t going to solve the problem. Ignoring someone’s screams for help when they are being attacked, isn’t going to solve the problem. Pulling out your phone to take pictures/videos of someone bleeding on the sidewalk from a gunshot wound, isn’t going to solve the problem.

      Police play an important part in the process, but are by no means the only part of the process, they need help. They need to have citizens be aware of what’s going on in their community, and report any problems they see.

      • Could not agree with you more. The one you left out was people who are the target of a crime not calling the police for two or three days. The people who make Capitol Hill home have an obligation to be human and plugged into the community at least a little. At least enough to yell and call 911 if they see a crime. And young people need to be taught that 911 services are something they have a right to and they should call it if they are being followed instead of calling their mom or posting on FB after they get home.

    • Couldn’t agree more. What is a march down Broadway going to do? How about organizing a series of discussions in Cal Anderson Park for us HIll residents to attend that actually help us help ourselves combat this situation. Same content just different nights so we actually attend depending on our schedules. The police are not responding to the needs so we need to teach ourselves how to help each other, protect each other and pull the rug out from these criminals where/when we can.

  2. I agree we need more ranger and foot patrol presense in Cal Anderson in a particular and on Broadway. I walk my pug in the park twice a day as I live in a condo across the street. Last night my dog was attacked by a pit bull in the park that lunged out of a group of homeless people encamped at the edge of the walking path. While this isn’t robbery or gun violence it was terrifying for myself and my pug and shouldn’t be happening in a public park. I should be able to feel safe in the park and people should control their animals homeless or otherwise. I am beginning to feel like I can’t even walk in the park at at night as it is feeling less safe all the time. We need more law enforcement, ranger persence ASAP!

    • What is up with pit bulls and Broadway/Capitol Hill? It is getting to be a safety issue. I know it sounds crazy, but I have witnessed three pit bull fights (pit bull on pit bull) over the past several months near the intersection of Broadway and John. Not hard to imagine incidents like that escalating to a seriously injured pedestrian.

      And, non-service* pit bulls (or any large dog for that matter) should never be allowed on the bus…have been seeing more and more of that on the 8 and 43. I love dogs, but there are lots of people who get freaked out by them.

      *for real…not some service animal collar you use as a “take my dog anywhere” pass.

  3. Honestly I may not go to the march because I’m single and am afraid to walk home from it. No one to buddy with…. Not all the homophobia is getting reported either. As a gay person I have seen a sharp increase of homophobia on the hill and heard of many incidents from friends. Be careful out there!

  4. And p.s. Metro policies allow all dogs (even pets) on board Metro buses as long as they are not disruptive. I agree, though, about people abusing the service dog exception. I am somewhat freaked out by dogs (and have seen them pee on chairs etc) and so would prefer that people obey the laws and keep pets out of grocery stores, cafes, and other businesses where they do not belong.

    • One of the worst offenders, as far as turning a blind eye to non-service dogs in a grocery store, is the QFC at Broadway Market. I shop there frequently, and every time there is at least one person with a dog, and sometimes several. I doubt that most of these are service animals. Management there does nothing about this.

      In my opinion, people who have a need for a real service dog should be required to get certified by a health provider, and it should be mandatory that the dog wear an identifying harness at all times. This is the only way that business owners can separate out real, bona fide service animals from the many who are not, and to have legal grounds to get the scofflaws out of their store. As it is, they are fearful of lawsuits based on the ADA, or at the least “offending” a paying customer, so they ignore the problem.

  5. The muggings for $600 iPhones is happening in cities across the country. That’s why the cellphone industry is working on a kill switch to render stolen smartphones worthless. The recent gay bashings are most likely being committed by outsiders who don’t even live on the Hill.

  6. Want to make a real impact? Make is an armed open carry march. None of this candles and teddy bears crap.

    Stop trying to be so softy progressive and anti self-defense and stop this collectivistic “we’ll just have a march” stuff. Notice it does not work?

    Have an armed march. Open carry is legal in Washington. Bring AR-15s. This might sound crazy so “some” people, but if you know violence and how it works, facing the reality of it and the mindset of those who would commit it, you will see how effective this is.

    And effective will work better than “effetive”.

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  8. Amen Doktor Jeep! I walk with my mace in clear sight whenever I walk alone on the Hill at night. I can’t wait to get my gun so I can do the same with it. I think the march is a great idea, but I think we also need self defense classes and classes showing us how to use different types of weapons. I know most Seattlites have an issue with guns, but ask any criminal and I guarantee they will tell you that they would never attack someone who is armed and they would run if they broke into someone’s home and ended up looking down the barrel of a Smith and Wesson. The criminals know they have it made here since most people are completely unarmed. Perfect example are those kids using a pellet gun in Cal Anderson to rob people. All it would have taken was one armed citizen to pull their weapon on those little idiots and after they cleaned their pants out, they would have hung up their toy and stopped terrorizing people on The Hill. I work with former offenders and I don’t know how many times I have heard how easy Seattle people are to rob and how they were never scared to rob people in the city because Seattle people don’t have or use gun and it is rare for them to have anything but keychain mace for protection.. (They almost all have said they don’t go to places too far North or too far South of the city because people in those areas have guns). A few of them actually moved here because they had friends that told them Seattle people were easy “marks” that never carried anything to protect themselves and couldn’t tell a real gun from a toy one. It’s time to stop being passive aggressive and stand up for yourselves. Use whatever weapon you want to use and take the appropriate training needed to use it. Stop expecting the police to do everything for you. Let’s take back our neighborhood using methods the criminals will understand.

    “An armed society is a polite society”

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