Pride month on Capitol Hill begins with two hate crime incidents reported on the neighborhood’s streets over the weekend including a Friday afternoon assault in which the victim said two suspects surrounded him on Bellevue Ave E near Republican, shoved him to the ground, and “began kicking him in the ribs and shouting homophobic slurs,” according to the SPD report on the attack.
The attacks come during an upswing in violence around the Hill as summer approaches and larger crowds are on the streets of the neighborhood’s entertainment districts. SPD officials have said emphasis patrols are in place for Pike/Pine’s busy Friday and Saturday nights and that undercover operations and investigations are underway to quell the annual uptick in assaults and robberies. Meanwhile, swarms of street robberies are beginning to appear again around Capitol Hill including an incident last month in which two people were shot. According to SPD, four more street robberies were reported on Capitol Hill since Thursday night.
Reports of bias crimes are also rising in the city and on Capitol Hill but officials say that is partly due to improved processes and training plus more willingness for victims to come forward.
In Friday’s attack, SPD detectives are looking for surveillance images to identify the suspects in the beating and are asking anyone with information to call SPD’s violent crimes tip line at (206) 233-5000. The victim told police the incident occurred around 2:15 PM in the 500 block of Bellevue Ave E as he walked down the street:
The victim told officers he was listening to his headphones just before the attack and didn’t get a good look at the suspects, but said they were both white males, 20 to 30 years old, and were wearing baseball caps.
The victim reported the crime just before 5 PM after being driven to the hospital where “he received treatment for injuries to his hands, leg and face, including stitches on his chin,” according to police.
“I always thought that if it happened to me, I would fight back,” Capitol Hill resident Chip Perala told the Stranger about the attack. “But it happened so fast that I didn’t get a chance. There have been other people hurt worse than I was.”
Perala told the Stranger he was “surprised by how seriously the officers responded to the incident.”
In the second incident under investigation, two men called police around 10 PM Sunday night reporting “a man had followed them down the street, spit on them and shouted anti-gay slurs” —
The victims said they were walking in the 1500 block of E. Olive Way, holding hands, when they passed by the suspect, who was sitting on a bench. The suspect began spitting and shouting slurs, and followed the victims down the street. The couple ignored the man, who eventually turned around and walked away.
The victims called police, who searched the neighborhood, but were unable to locate the suspect. The victims described the suspect as a hispanic male, about 5’10, who was wearing black clothing, and carrying a suitcase.
The incidents come as Seattle Police introduced the new Safe Place program for Capitol Hill businesses to display rainbow badge stickers signifying that the venue is available as refuge and that staff members are trained to assist anybody facing street harassment.
Meanwhile, one LGBTQ-focused business is leaving the neighborhood citing “the Capitol Hill Problem.” Dr. Jen’s House of Beauty will close its E Pike shop at the end of June. “The elephant in the room was what we called the ‘Capitol Hill Problem,'” a Facebook update announcing the shop’s closure read. “All of us on the Hill know what I mean-growing crime against LGBTQ folks, out of control rent increases, no parking from all the construction and the endless sea of douchebaggery filling our streets after dark.”