A terrible aspect of the COVID-19 crisis seen early here in Seattle has only gotten worse during the pandemic. Bias crimes and race-based hate crime jumped in 2020 and prosecutors say the trend appears to be continuing this year.
Here, Seattle Police Department records show a 93% jump in reports of racially motivated hate crimes in 2020 with 405 incidents reported through September, the most recent month available for public reporting. Overall, reported hate crimes were up 72% in the city. Continue reading →
Non-criminal bias: Incidents that hateful but criminal like yelling a slur, Crimes with bias elements: Crimes with hate elements not solely motivated by bias, Malicious harassment: Crime motivated by bias (Source: City of Seattle Auditor’s report)
If the most important first step in fixing a problem is measuring it, a new report from the city might help Seattle stem the rising tide of hate crime. Meanwhile, a new ordinance might also make it easier to prosecute.
A new report from the Seattle City Auditor’s office shows efforts to encourage people to report bias crime are — sadly — working. In 2018, there were some 521 crimes and incidents involving bias reported in Seattle. That is up 25% over the previous year and up 313% in the five-year period starting 2014.
The rise is terrible but also shows SPD’s relatively small bias crimes unit is making progress in encouraging more people to report the crimes and shaping the department to take bias complaints more seriously.
Tuesday, the Seattle City Council’s Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee will take up legislation started last summer to change how Seattle prosecutes hate crimes. Continue reading →
The FBI confirms what Seattle already knows — citizens here are reporting more and more hate crimes.
The federal agency this week released its 2017 “uniform crime reporting” statistics for reported bias crimes across the nation showing a 17% jump over 2016’s totals. But the FBI’s data for Seattle shows a much larger issue — hate crime reports nearly doubled in the city in 2017 with reports of religious bias up a whopping 275%:
“The FBI’s Seattle Field Office serves a diverse community. In the wake of the tragic events in Pittsburgh that impacted the nation, we want to assure Washingtonians that their safety and civil rights are a top priority,” Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael F. Paul of the FBI’s Seattle Field Office said in a statement on the report’s release. Continue reading →
Here is the video of a confrontation between a manager and two black customers inside Capitol Hill’s Harvard Market QFC that, the Seattle Times reports, resulted in the employee’s suspension and an apology from the company.
The posted video begins with the men at the Pike and Broadway store’s self-checkout as they are being told to leave the grocery by the manager and security.
“You’re harassing me. I’m paying for this shit and you’re harassing us,” complains one man in the video. The manager, with the name “Brian” on his employee tag, responds to accusations of racism, telling the men, “I don’t want you back in my store. It’s private property.”
The Seattle Times reports that QFC President Suzy Monford apologized for Tuesday’s incident — “As president of QFC, I apologize on behalf of our entire team to the customers involved” — and that the manager was being suspended “until we have all the facts.”
The incident comes amid increased efforts around bias training for big companies following Seattle-based Starbucks’s decision to close its thousands of stores for a day of training last month after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia location of the coffee chain.
Starbucks cafes across First Hill, Capitol Hill, and the Central District including its specialty Roy Street Cafe and Melrose Reserve Roastery will close early Tuesday afternoon as part of a nationwide day of training.
“For several hours this afternoon, we will close stores and offices to discuss how to make Starbucks a place where all people feel welcome,” the company said in a Tweet earlier in the day. “Thank you for your patience and support as we renew our promise to make Starbucks an inclusive gathering place for all.”
Around 180,000 employees at Starbucks stores and at its Seattle headquarters will receive training that will “focus on understanding prejudice and the history of public accommodations in the United States.” Continue reading →
Today the Seattle Police Department released its semiannual report detailing bias crimes and incidents for the first half of 2017. During this time, a total of 178 criminal and non-criminal bias based incidents were reported, up from the 128 incidents reported at the same time last year. The increase in reports can be attributed in large part to victims feeling more comfortable reporting bias crimes due to enhanced trust, improved reporting mechanisms and ongoing community outreach by the Department.
“SPD continues to be a national leader in investigating and reporting bias crimes as well as outreach to communities experiencing these acts,” said Chief of Police, Kathleen O’Toole. “In the spirit of transparency and accountability we continue to release these reports letting the community know that the Department works hard every day to make sure our most vulnerable victims are heard and we pursue the justice they deserve.”
Highlights from the report:
Bias crimes often occur between complete strangers and take victims by surprise. Many of them are property crimes committed anonymously under the cover of darkness. The Seattle Police Department’s clearance rate for these incidents is 39%. Many of these arrests are made by patrol officers arriving on the scene soon after an incident has occurred. Detectives work hard to locate suspects not found at the time of the incident. 13 cases from this period remain open and may be cleared by arrest.
An effort to better document and respond to discrimination in the city includes a new Seattle hotline to call if you have been the victim of harassment:
Whether at home, at work, or in a public place, everyone is protected from discriminatory harassment. Discriminatory harassment or violence is behavior that interferes with your civil rights and is directed at you because of your race, religion, gender and/or gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, and more. It can include: threats, slurs or epithets, intimidation or coercion, violence or use of force, damaging or defacing property and cyberbullying.
Officials say the hotline is an effort to augment existing public safety services — so definitely call 911 to report or a crime or if there is a dangerous situation. The hotline provides another avenue to make sure issues beyond law enforcement can be raised as quickly as possible.
Last month, CHS reported on SPD’s new bias crimes statistics dashboard and trends that capture the increase in reported incidents — thanks, in part, to a greater emphasis on reporting racial, sexual orientation, or religious harassment issues. Citywide in both 2016 and 2015, hate crimes against race were the most frequently reported followed by LGBTQ and religious incidents.
Officials from the Seattle Office for Civil Rights said the new hotline is also being accompanied by meetings with community groups and a media campaign to make sure citizens are aware of the resource.
Officer Ritter and Doug Vitaly of the LGTBQ Task Force (Images: CHS)
LGBTQ Liaison Officer Jim Ritter was on Broadway Tuesday afternoon to help Charlie’s on Broadway owner Ken Bauer affix his new Safe Place program sticker to the front door of the longtime Capitol Hill restaurant.
Ritter said Charlie’s was one of 50 Capitol Hill businesses to sign up for the new program designed to raise awareness of anti-LGBTQ hate crime — and give victims places to turn to if they find themselves feeling threatened. CHS wrote last week about the new program and the continued rise of bias crime totals that SPD officials say is a product of better tools, procedures, and reporting.
SPD has also launched SPDSAFEPLACE.com which is designed as a portal with information about bias crimes and prevention along with tools to help victims report incidents.
To be part of the program, owners like Bauer must pledge to prepare their businesses as safe harbors for victims and train employees:
By signing this commitment pledge I agree to use these decals/signs for their intended purpose by posting them on my premise. I further agree to instruct my organization’s employees to assist the victims and/or witnesses to anti-LGBTQ crimes by calling the police on their behalf and allowing them to remain on my premise until police arrive.
You can sign up to get the decals here. There are three versions of the rainbow badge you can choose from.
See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.
‘Hateful’ arrest on E Pine: SPD announced the arrest of a man police say attacked two victims early Sunday morning in a hate-filled assault in the 1000 block of E Pine: The two adult male victims told officers that they were walking past the suspect when he suddenly called them a hateful name and blew cigarette smoke at them. He then proceeded to spit on one of the victims and charged at them, causing the same physical altercation that the alert officer witnessed and disrupted. The victims informed officers that they believe the suspect confronted and attacked them based on their sexual orientation.
Police say the suspect tried to escape by ducking into a nearby restaurant before he was eventually apprehended. The he was booked into King County Jail for felony malicious harassment assault.
Bias charges: The suspect in a similar attack last weekend on the Hill has been charged with one count of assault and one count of malicious harassment. Troy Burns, 37, was charged for threatening three men with a knife early last Sunday near Harvard and Pike and “yelling derogatory remarks about their sexual orientation.” According to investigators, Burns has been living in shelters, is addicted to drugs, and was on Capitol Hill to sell meth:Police say Burns told them he doesn’t remember the incident admitted he had “probably” attacked the men:According to prosecutors, Burns criminal record includes convictions on drug charges, fourth degree assault, and hit and run.