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5 reasons for Capitol Hill’s hate crime ‘spike’

Crosscut is the latest Seattle media outlet to take on hate crime on Capitol Hill:

It turns out he’s not alone. There is strong anecdotal evidence that anti-LGBTQ violence is rising in Capitol Hill, Seattle’s historically gay neighborhood.

The 2,000+ word report grabs what numbers are available — LGBTQ hate-crimes jumped from 6 in 2011 to 19 in 2012, she reports — and documents the most disturbing recent anecdotes like the Neighbours arson case and the Ahmed Said and Dwone Anderson-Young murders.

It also focuses on the July 2013 beating of Doug Hamilton on Pike:

Last July, he was walking with two female friends when a stranger, who had repeatedly asked the trio intrusive questions about their sexual orientations, punched him in the chest and underneath the chin.

When Hamilton, a 52-year-old gay man, was knocked to the ground at the corner of Minor and Pike, sustaining a concussion, it was still light outside.

At the time, CHS reported that Hamilton “spotted the perpetrator the next day sleeping in a doorway near the site of the attack.” Crosscut reports Hamilton declined to press charges against the homeless man.

Crosscut’s report searches for causes behind perceived increase and talks with organizers from public safety groups like Social Outreach Seattle. There’s no mention, by the way, of the Q-Patrol-styled Out Watch group’s efforts to keep the neighborhood’s streets safer. SPD officer Sina Ebinger’s work in the community, however, does receive a well-deserved shoutout.

In the end, Crosscut chalks the problem up to the “deweirding” of Capitol Hill.

Weird or not, here is what CHS has seen in covering the neighborhood.

1) There is, indeed, a focus on bias crimes in the area around Capitol Hill. Here are the 2014 SPD bias investigation locations across the city to date for 2014. Half are in the East Precinct beats covering Capitol Hill. We don’t know what is behind the cluster of investigations in South Seattle but bias designation includes LGBTQ and race-related hate crime.

2) As a percentage — measured by the presence of gay couples — Capitol Hill is becoming “less gay.”

It’s a trend that extends well beyond Seattle:

Ghaziani argues that the rise of post-gay culture has introduced a new turmoil in gay neighborhoods: more gay men and women are leaving for suburbs and smaller cities, and more straight people are moving in. According to the “index of dissimilarity,” which demographers use to measure the spatial segregation of minority groups, census data show that both male and female same-sex households became “less segregated and less spatially isolated across the United States from 2000 to 2010,” Ghaziani writes. Same-sex couples reported living in ninety-three per cent of all counties in the United States in 2010, prompting Ghaziani to conclude that, “gays, in other words, really are everywhere.”

3) Like most central city neighborhoods in the world, Capitol Hill has a general street crime problem. We’re in the middle of the highest reported robbery totals of any month in the available SPD records.

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4) Mental health and homelessness are key factors in Capitol Hill street crime. Officials are developing new methods and better resources like the new crisis center facility to help but it’s difficult to stem the tide when other parts of government and community are cutting back resources. The result is more homeless and more mentally ill on the streets of Capitol Hill with less and less help available elsewhere.

5) Capitol Hill and, especially, Pike/Pine is in the middle of a nightlife boom. An East Precinct officer we spoke with estimates the population of the area nearly doubles on Friday and Saturday nights. CHS reported earlier this year on the boom’s impact on gay nightlife:

“It’s a good thing, but I feel like gay is becoming normal,” Lerseth said. “It is normal, however it’s not as separated as it used to be. I’m not complaining, but gay is more – more mixed.”

This mix plays out nightly with lots of fun and good times. Then there are incidents like this alleged Harvard/Pine gaybashing when the mix is ruined.

So, a street crime-plagued, central city neighborhood with lots of homeless and mentally ill people and a robust nightlife economy mixing a wide (though narrowing) spectrum of lifestyles? Sounds great! Those who grow weary of these kinds of issue can toss Capitol Hill to the side. The rest of us can dig in on solving the problems above and strengthening the opportunities.

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10 thoughts on “5 reasons for Capitol Hill’s hate crime ‘spike’

  1. This gay girl is moving off the hill tomorrow. I was recently assaulted on Capitol Hill by bigots and I’ve had other friends who’ve had close calls. The Capitol Hill I know and love has become “Cap Hill” and I don’t care for it. I’ll still visit, but I lament the loss of the place I have come to love.

  2. JSeattle – you forgot to mention the Somali gang that is assaulting and robbing people, who hang out on Nagle during the day, and the corner of Pike and Broadway at night. Why not take on that issue. The other things you brought up are true as well, but these youth cannot be ignored.

  3. They should open the doors to the “to be demolished” buildings waiting for paperwork, the squatters can use them temporarily. Just an idea.

  4. Hamilton declined to press charges? What an idiot that’ll teach the guy a lesson letting him get away with assaulting people because they are gay.

    He would have done the guy a favor pressing charges cause at least he woulda gotten a home. A cell in the King county jail.

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  6. Speaking as someone who worked at the above-mentioned crisis facility before/during/after the launch, and now works in an agency who has to coordinate things with them on a regular basis: don’t get your hopes up that the Crisis Solutions Center is going to stem anything for anyone.

    They are the most utterly incompetent group of people I’ve ever met in my half-decade of working in healthcare. DESC administration is vindictive and stonewalls any attempts to improve things. Most of the people I worked with, including the CSC’s own medical director, have abandoned the project and left due to poor working conditions.

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