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Racist assault reported inside Broadway/Pike Starbucks

Seattle Police are investigating an ugly assault at the Broadway/Pike Starbucks Friday morning as a hate crime.

According to police reports, a man spat on a black man and woman and used racial epithets during an assault inside the coffee shop Friday morning just before 11 AM. The suspect was gone by the time police arrived.

CHS learned about the attack from a blog post by one of its victimsDr. Bob Hughes, an associate dean at Seattle University:

My awareness of the incident, as I later explained it to the officer who took my statement, started with me realizing that my right hand was wet. We were in a Starbucks and there was lots of liquid around. My cortical brain told me that most likely someone spilled something. But then, I heard someone behind me say something that sounded like, “fucking nigger bitch.” My brain needed a new explanation. I turned and realized that a young White man in his early 20s behind me, neatly dressed with short-cropped hair with a dark-colored backpack, was directing this statement to my colleague. As I turned further to face him, he said, “That’s right fucking nigger bitch” again. He walked to the door and walked out. The incident didn’t really register with me, even as he walked out. What had happened? I turned to my colleague and asked if she knew the young man. She had never seen him. He went outside and stood at the window yelling more comments that we could not hear and finally walked away down the street. It was as he stood at the window that my brain started to make sense of things, as I realized that the liquid I initially felt on my hand was his spit. He had spit at my colleague, as it turned out, twice. This young man looked like a thousand other young college students I’ve seen over the years. Clean cut, well dressed. He was also visibly angry. He did not present as mentally disturbed or under the influence of any substances. He directed his anger at my colleague, having never met either of us. He saw two African Americans sitting in a Starbucks and decided that it was okay to assault us.

Dr. Hughes tells CHS that the incident was likely captured on video and that police were provided with access to the surveillance.

But Dr. Hughes confronts a larger issue in his post:

While the society has created hate crime laws and has professed an expectation that this kind of behavior shouldn’t be tolerated, clearly for this young man those weren’t enough discouragements to overcome whatever misogynistic and racial hatred and ignorance fuel him. And, on reflection a few hours after the incident, more than that young man’s actions were disturbing to me.  This was a very public act in a very small space.  Everyone at that café heard the incident and many saw it.  However, only one patron came up after the incident.  That woman apologized to us, saying that this should never happen to anyone, and she offered to be a witness.  Also, the manager came to assist us to clean ourselves and to help file the police report.  Everyone else at the café sat silently or went on with their business.  In a truly post-racial world, that would not be how things work.  In a post-racial world, that kind of violation would mobilize every person in that space to actively resist an assault on two people – an assault that only happened because of our race, and because of the gender of my colleague.

“My guess is that the next time, this young man will be more violent and his next incident will be more brash,” Hughes writes. “Unstopped, antisocial behavior like this escalates. And he lives in a world right now where he felt safe taking these actions. But when incidents like this stop, or people who witness these incidents involve themselves as actors against such acts, then maybe we’ll be moving toward a post-racial world.”

The case remains an open investigation according to SPD.

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27 Comments
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Smalerie
Smalerie
4 years ago

I love Seattle but I think the lack of reaction is a very typical Seattle response. People here seem to be more willing to watch others suffer without intervening or offering assistance, at least compared to where I grew up (in Texas, which has its own issues of course…).

poop
poop
4 years ago
Reply to  Smalerie

One never knows if a nutcase like this is looking for a chance to pull out a gun. Most of us don’t carry and try to avoid such conflict.

dc
dc
4 years ago
Reply to  Smalerie

what poop said… if there appeared to be an assault going on I’d gladly help out, but getting knifed on capitol hill used to be a pretty common thing and now there are guns all over the place. like the article said, this is on tape and if the guy shows up again or elsewhere he may be recognized, expelled, detained etc.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
4 years ago
Reply to  Smalerie

It doesn’t so much surprise me nobody physically intervened– especially if it was over so fast nobody understood what was going on. But it’s disappointing that only one person voiced concern and empathy enough to come apologize and offer to be a witness. That seems pretty inexcusable.

booz
booz
4 years ago

I frequent this Starbucks (so sue me!) and have been surprised time after time at how gracious and compassionate the staff are during difficult situations. I’ve seen them have to deal with some really crappy stuff and they handle it amazingly well.

I really sincerely hope that the staff at that location get de-escalation or safety training. I know it can take a toll on you to work in an unpredictable environment.

And I’m sorry that this happened to begin with, I’ve just been thinking about the staff there for awhile and need to get this off my chest!

teego
teego
4 years ago
Reply to  booz

Empathizing with the wrong party, typical with caucasian American culture. The refusal to see themselves as African American (putting yourself into African American shoes) the ability to see yourself as the others is the beginning of empathy. The caucasian American need to collectively work towards increasing their empathic intelligence.

Arboretum neighbor
Arboretum neighbor
4 years ago
Reply to  booz

Wait, are you (teego) under the impression that all of the Starbucks staff are white? I was on the receiving end of an raging, threats to kill tirade at the 23rd and Jackson Starbucks and two staffers stepped in to help me while the coffeehouse patrons stood by and did nothing. The staffers and the patrons, save for one elderly asian lady and 2 gilrs who looked like middleschoolers, were all black.

Just a guy
Just a guy
4 years ago
Reply to  booz

Teego, nice sweeping generalizations. And I don’t know what Caucasian culture you are referring too, I lived in the Caucasus but I’m not “Caucasian” I’m just White, European background whatever you prefer.

Most people, most people will not get involved in situations that are not directly confronting them, you can call that human nature, self-serving, survival instincts or whatever. You see it in small incidents, you see it in shooting incidents.

bb
bb
4 years ago

Sounds like nothing more than another ranting tweaker.

Matt
Matt
4 years ago
Reply to  bb

Great advice! Good thing to think next time you see this happen. That way your conscience can be assuaged when you invariably sit on your ass and do nothing about it.

bb
bb
4 years ago
Reply to  bb

Nah, I’ll just call you Mr superhero to take the trash out.

Adam
Adam
4 years ago

Responses are on point. No one confronts anything here, they just leave a passive aggressive note, or in this case, blog post.

JTContinental
JTContinental
4 years ago

Oops, the racist comment I was replying to was deleted, so feel free to delete this one, too.

ERF
ERF
4 years ago

“This young man looked like a thousand other young college students I’ve seen over the years. Clean cut, well dressed.”

A clean cut and well dressed college student on Capitol Hill? That should have stood out.

Sabrina Braswell
Sabrina Braswell
4 years ago

I am curious as to why Dr. Bob Hughes didn’t respond differently in the moment. I understand his shock & awe for a second but then he watched the young man walk way without so much as word to him. I’m more bothered by his lack of response/action of being spat on than I am of the customers that he’s pencil whipping. Perhaps if the Dr. would’ve knocked him on his young college student looking butt he wouldn’t dare think of spitting on anyone else. Dr. Hughes there was no expectation of you to turn the other cheek, this was not a civil protest at your local diner counter. It seems the racist spitter had blind luck… the path of least, well actually ZERO resistance. If there’s a next time I hope he wont be so lucky.

Saveon@hotmail.com
Saveon@hotmail.com
4 years ago

Because he lives in the halls of academia. The world to them is abstract. Responding to these kind of things is left to someone less refined. Oh, he will put pen to paper. He will rage from the safety of a college campus, he may even light a candle in ‘solidarity.’ Bottom line is a group of people ran into an asshole that assaulted a friend of the theirs. Not one of them stepped up in her defense. Not one person in the joint stepped up. Ironic that it was a college professor who did nothing. College professors have done more to emasculate men and have them act as if acting like a man is a crime. They needed The Duke. They got Ross from Friends.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
4 years ago

Victim-blaming, much?
Were you guys there? Do you have knowledge of how big or small the spewing asshole was? Do you have any idea how tall/short, young/old, etc Dr. Hughes is? Guess what? I’m plenty big enough to teach any smart-mouthed asshole a lesson, but if any such psycho called me a fag then ran outside ranting and raving, I doubt I’ll follow the nutjob either. I’d be pissed off– but why on earth would I risk not only a emotional assault but a physical one too? Dr. Hughes made just the right call, IMO. I’m sure he was incredulous and shocked. He did what felt right for him.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
4 years ago

Dr. Hughes, if you’re reading this, very sorry you and your friend had to endure this.

Arboretum neighbor
Arboretum neighbor
4 years ago

Amen, Jim. Honestly, it isn’t smart for anyone to physically confront an abusive crazy person. You’re much more likely to end up fighting for your life when the event is essentially over. Let the police do their jobs.

Judy Solomon
Judy Solomon
4 years ago

That intersection needs an exorcism.

Marcus
Marcus
4 years ago

Not really surprising as others have said. We see the apathy towards African American in the local Seattle media…

phyllis marshall
phyllis marshall
4 years ago

both sides of what. the well dressed boy spat twice
at two black people sitting at a table in a Starbucks.
there is no other side!

Data Driven
Data Driven
4 years ago

This is a disturbing event and I am dismayed to hear that nobody said or did anything. Not having been there to observe the speed of the incident or the demeanor of the assailant, I can see a potential for not wanting a direct confrontation or it happening too quickly. I can’t stomach the idea that there was not vocal support for the victim(s) and condemnation of the event. Like to think many as well as myself would have behaved differently, but then again, I am one who has stepped into things that others might walk away from, as may be the case with others who take the time to comment. I wish the perp had been jumped by several folks and held for the cops based upon the assault of spitting. I don’t think racist or offensive speech is criminal, but in combination with spitting it is likely a hate crime.

That said, I hate to give the victim a pulpit to draw any generalities on society or whites from this event. I was personally subject once to a racist demand by a late teen or 20 something black woman to go back where I belonged (I am white) when I was at the park behind Garfield high. I did not write an op ed piece on the event, claim black privilege or write about the obvious racism of her action – until now, years later.

Ryan
Ryan
4 years ago

If I’m spit on and verbally attacked in a public setting for being gay, without threat of physical violence, and am too surprised to say anything to the attacker, I hearby approve of everyone to go on about their business after their own shock wears off. A sympathetic word or two from those that were closest to the incident would be okay, and certainly from staff who saw it occur.

Stephan
Stephan
4 years ago

Wow! That racist thug had 3 things working in his favor: 1. Seattle’s unshakable passive-aggressive spirit; 2. the fact that black folks are simply unwelcome there; and 3. the victims’ unavoidable internalized racism that rendered them defenseless in the face of an angry, violent white man.

As a gay black man and former resident of the city, I can personally to speak to each of those realities. For all of its “progressive” politics, Seattle just isn’t a safe space for black people. Plain and simple. I’m actually surprised that the police didn’t arrest (or worse) the victims themselves.

Fellow black folks: if you insist on living that in that city, do yourselves a favor and purchase a firearm and a permit to carry. You clearly need them.

tr
tr
4 years ago

release the video