Three arrests as protest marches on Capitol Hill for ‘essential workers’

Protests in the street on E Olive Way (Image: SDOT)

A Black Lives Matter march for essential workers part of “Black Friday” protests across Seattle ended with arrests Friday night at Denny and E Olive Way on Capitol Hill.

A group marching through the neighborhood was reported blocking traffic and had been given dispersal orders, Seattle Police said. Continue reading

How is COVID-19 spreading in Seattle? Households, workplaces, and gatherings most likely for exposure

Customers stand in a socially distanced line wrapping around the block Thursday to pick up their vegan Thanksgiving orders from 12th Ave’s Plum (Image: CHS)

With officials fearing new momentum in the fall wave of COVID-19 from Thanksgiving gatherings, Public Health has provided the clearest information yet in this “third phase” of the pandemic about how King County and Seattle residents are becoming sick. The answers won’t allay Thanksgiving and holiday fears — and they won’t be easy to address under current restrictrictions and mandates.

In a new report released before the holiday weekend, county health officials said contact tracing shows that most people becoming infected by the virus here since late September are being exposed within their own household. How it is being introduced into the household is a larger, more complicated answer. Officials Wednesday said they don’t have a clear view of how “household” exposures are starting because people are reporting a wide range of contact environments, and often report multiple possible exposures. Contact tracing here has also been complicated by those becoming ill either intentionally or unintentionally providing incomplete tracing information. Continue reading

Happy 80th birthday to Bruce Lee, Capitol Hill’s most legendary eternal resident

(Image: CHS)

Martial arts legend Bruce Lee rests today atop Capitol HIll in Lake View Cemetery. Friday would have been his 80th birthday.

CHS visited the site earlier this week. Resting next to the grave of his son Brandon Lee, Bruce’s headstone was covered as usual with its mix of flowers and coins. The grave sites atop a hill with an eastern view are a popular place to visit to pay respect to the masters.

Hours at Lake View are currently limited due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. The non-profit managed facility is also undertaking a small construction project around the graves. We checked in with the management about the project multiple times but Lake View’s office never got back to us. The organization has faced a challenging year with the ongoing pandemic and controversy surrounding the removal of a Confederate monument from the cemetery.

The construction fencing, meanwhile, will serve as an unfortunate background on what will likely be a busy weekend for visitors. Continue reading

Whulshootseed — crossing over in Cal Anderson Park

The memorial totem pole for John T. Williams carved by his brother and family and raised at Seattle Center in 2012 (Image: City of Seattle)

“Woods thronged with Indians” — the USS Decatur’s map of Seattle

A recent essay on the ongoing demonstrations in Seattle and the summer of the Capitol Hill occupied protest attempted to frame the activism as microcosm of the upheaval seen this year across the county. It’s a good read:

It was a raw experience felt physically by those who attended the CHOP. This complicated blend of hope and despair, and the busy organizing that went into managing each, ended after shots rang out in the night, two were killed, and the SPD swept the protesters out.

But the essay also strings the physical core of Seattle’s protests — Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park — to a history of oppression and conquest: Continue reading

With applications due for $4M next round, 10 Capitol Hill and Central District $10K Seattle small business relief fund grantees weigh in

If you own one of the 9,000 Seattle businesses that applied for a $10,000 city grant early on in the pandemic but weren’t chosen during the first three rounds, there may be hope once again.

Seattle’s Small Business Stabilization Fund, rolled out in March, has now been revitalized as part of the City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan joint $5.5 million COVID-19 small business relief package passed in August. Of the businesses selected in this upcoming round, at least two thirds must have five employees or less and identify as “high risk of displacement or highly disadvantaged.”

So far, 469 businesses have received grants through this fund and over 60 of them are in District 3 neighborhoods including Capitol Hill and the Central District. The application period for this next round closes on Monday. You can learn more here.

For some Capitol Hill and Central District businesses, the grant was a necessary part of staying afloat during a time when federal and other sources of funding weren’t panning out. For others, it’s just one part of a larger effort to withstand the ongoing pandemic, especially in light of recently  tightened COVID restrictions.

  • SugarPill: The Pine and Broadway apothecary was one of the first businesses to receive a city grant. Owner Karyn Schwartz says it was the first type of governmental funding SugarPill received, coming through at a much needed time when invoices from the previous holiday season were piling up along with rent and payroll. “Without that grant, SugarPill would quite possibly have not survived,” she said. “It was a godsend in the early days of the pandemic.” Situated just down the block from 11th and Pine, she says the grant carried SugarPill through six straight weeks of near total closure as limited capacity shopping and curbside pickup were halted during this summer’s Capitol Hill protest zone. “It provided me, most importantly, with a little extra time to think about my next move, and to do the horrific work of applying for every other kind of assistance with a slightly less paralyzing sense of panic,” Schwartz said. Continue reading

Driver busted for DUI in five-car E Pike collision

(Image: SPD)

Police say a driver was busted for DUI and taken to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries in an incident Tuesday night that left cars scattered across the street and sidewalk along E Pike at Bellevue.

SPD and Seattle Fire were called to the scene of multiple crashed vehicles just before 8:30 PM and found one of the smashed up cars on the sidewalk resting against the wall of the First Covenant Church. Cars including a silver Subaru SUV were scattered across the area but other occupants reported only minor injuries, police said. There were no reported injuries to pedestrians or bikers in the busy area. Continue reading

Is the Capitol Hill protest season over?

With reporting by Renee Raketty

The marches, rallies, and actions have once again shifted and there have been more nights than not lately with quiet streets around Capitol Hill’s walled-off East Precinct. Some might think Seattle protest season has ended just as the drizzle season has arrived.

“The protest community is feeling the strain of almost 180 days of continuous action. Increasing COVID numbers, a change in Seattle police tactics, factionalization, and the logical progression of a protest into political activity have reduced daily turnout,” David Obelcz, a frequent protest live streamer and publisher of Malcontentment.com said. “It is worth noting the 150-day march and the November 4 march had more than 1,000 people. Anyone who is pouring one out for Black Lives Matter in Seattle is doing so prematurely.”

But the night of the 150-day march did seem to mark a turning point. In the weeks since, demonstrations have been spread out across the city including the International District, Northgate, and West Seattle, plus a tangle with some Proud Boys in Mill Creek, along with a couple nights of protest activity starting as it has for months in Cal Anderson. But groups on the Hill have been smaller and reports of vandalism at the East Precinct and business property damage have quieted since October. Even the E Olive Way Starbucks has reopened though the neighborhood’s parking meters remain busted.

For larger rallies and marches, the changes seem to be a focus on a wider area of the city and a push toward quality over quantity. There are fewer events but a more robust deployment of resources including the safety of the “Car Brigade” and sometimes a split of marchers into two or more groups to stretch Seattle Police resources and limit law enforcement interference.

SPD also has new tactics and new equipment — though its deployment in the East Precinct has also become a relative rarity.

The causes of the Black Lives Matter groups and the anti-police “direct action” activists don’t cleave to a legislative schedule but another season has also passed. Continue reading

Another 2020 holiday bummer: Capitol Hill Christmas trees will be a little harder to come by

It brings CHS no joy to deliver such Grinch-y news.

In 2020, it’s better if you keep your Thanksgiving feasts small and socially distanced.

And it’s not going to be easy to find a Capitol Hill Christmas tree.

Stevens Elementary, site of one of the neighborhood’s big annual holiday tree sales, has announced what you probably might have expected — there will be no trees at the North Capitol Hill school this year: Continue reading

Local Bigger Burger: A new burger joint takes over in the Broadway mixed-use building with the most Broadway mix of mixed-use

The unwinding of one local Seattle burger chain during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has led to the growth of a new one with a new location already open on Broadway.

Local Bigger Burger, a brand name that screams concept and aspirations for major growth, is anything but a bland franchise, food and drink veteran and entrepreneur Nate Rey tells CHS.

The Green Lake-born burger joint has expanded onto Capitol Hill with a quiet takeover of the former Blue Moon Burgers location on Broadway. The change happened quickly enough that Rey says you can still order from the Blue Moon menu for a little while. But, soon enough, the kitchen will be switched over to the flame broiled style of LBB. Continue reading

Seattle budget set for 2021: a new tax on big businesses, a new approach to encampments, and a 20% cut to $400M in annual police spending

An unprecedented budget in unprecedented times — Monday’s vote was conducted, like most proceedings during the COVID-19 crisis, virtually

Budget chair Mosqueda took issue with Sawant’s time with the mic and her characterization of how the city’s tax on big businesses came to be. “A really robust effort. I don’t want their effort to be erased by one person’s words and a revision of history,” Mosqueda said.

Challenged and inspired by months of Black Lives Matter protests — including a last minute Sunday night push, the Seattle City Council Monday approved an unprecedented new budget for a major American city including key revenue from a new tax on big businesses, tens of millions of dollars shifted to community and social services, an end to the city’s recent history of encampment sweeps, and a near 20% cut to the city’s police force spending including a last minute $2 million slice to further rein in the department’s growth — all while in the grip of a global pandemic.

“There are aspects of this Budget which are of critical importance, that a year ago we couldn’t have imagined as necessary as they are today,” citywide councilmember and the chair of the budget committee Teresa Mosqueda said in a statement. “I imagine we will have to continue to make tough choices next year, and ensure our Budget is fiscally responsible while providing funding that serves our most vulnerable residents.”

But it was also a day for the familiar. Kshama Sawant, council member for District 3 representing Capitol Hill and the Central District, voted against the massive $6.5 billion package as she has on every annual budget during her three terms of office.

“In the middle of a pandemic and a spike in COVID infections, in the context of the worst recession for working people since the Great Depression, Democratic Councilmembers will be carrying out brutal austerity,” Sawant said in a statement following the vote.

As usual, Sawant stood alone.

Approved 8-1, the 2021 budget will bring a cut of around a fifth of the city’s more than $400 million annual outlay in police spending along with important changes to reduce the size and power of the department by moving 911 and traffic enforcement operations outside of SPD and spending more money on social, community, and BIPOC services and programs. While a larger “No New Cops” bid was voted down in committee, Monday’s final budget package included another $2 million reduction to SPD designed to curtail the department’s hiring in the new year.

The compromises between the calls from months of Black Lives Matter protests and Mayor Jenny Durkan’s push to maintain SPD staffing levels have apparently resulted in a budget the administration can live with. Monday night, the mayor said she would sign the newly approved legislation. Continue reading