Capitol Hill Station apartment and retail construction has kicked back into motion with crews OK’d to come back to work following a weeks-long shutdown to help slow the spread of COVID-19. You’ll see the workers, like the rest of us, wearing face coverings — and you’ll see that many if not most of the workers are Hispanic.
With the state’s economy in the early stages of reopening, service employees and construction crews are part of a first wave of workers helping Washington walk the precarious line of starting up its economy while also trying to stay healthy. But a report from Public Health shows the risk isn’t being equally shared. In King County, Hispanic people have died from COVID-19 at a rate 2.5 times higher than that of white people. Meanwhile, Hispanic, Black, and Pacific Islander groups also have been infected and hospitalized at higher rates.
“The updated analysis reinforces findings from other metropolitan areas and states across the United States. In King County, Public Health and community-facing task forces have been concerned since the beginning of this epidemic – that COVID-19 is exacerbating health inequities and is likely to take the biggest toll on communities already disadvantaged due to a long history of structural racism – ranging from housing policies to discrimination in health care, and more,” a report from the county on the findings reads.
And the problem grew as the number of cases in the county increased even as information about “social distancing” and “stay home” restrictions spread. Continue reading
Seattle City Council District 3 primary candidate Zachary DeWolf will serve as the Seattle School Board president after being selected this week by his counterparts.
The vote at the board’s Wednesday night session makes DeWolf an historic choice to lead the body charged with setting policies for the Seattle Public Schools system.
“I am incredibly grateful to serve as President of the Board; as the first queer, first Native and youngest President elected to this role, I deeply understand the awesome responsibility that has been given to me,” DeWolf said in a statement to CHS. Continue reading
The Liberty Bank Building in the Central District
Antonesha Jackson still remembers riding bikes near the three-bedroom Central District apartment she shared with her sisters and mother growing up. From there, it was just a brief trip to her grandparents’ house and an even shorter walk to Garfield High School.
But when she tried to return to the neighborhood after 12 years studying and working in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, finding a place to rent in her now-gentrified neighborhood proved nearly impossible. She looked for an affordable apartment for months.
Until acquaintances told her about a then-new affordable housing development right here in her neighborhood: Liberty Bank Building, an equitable development project led by Capitol Hill Housing and Africatown. She moved in this March, finally returning to the area she’d grown up in and now operated a fashion boutique out of.
“A lot of the people that live in my building, I have seen around growing up. [They] are from this community,” Jackson said. “It’s beautiful to me.” 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.
The investigation of William Wingate’s arrest showed the importance of examining past statement and records of officers accused of biased policing (Images: CHS)
How can you legislate racism? It is a question at the heart of any effort to eliminate biased policing and one that Seattle King County NAACP president Gerald Hankerson was quick to raise Wednesday during a City Council committee meeting on the subject.
The answer came from City Council president Bruce Harrell: “You have to start somewhere.” Over the past year, Harrell and his staff have been working on a series of measures to codify bias-free policing practices in Seattle. On Wednesday, Harrell unveiled the basics of his plan.
Central to the proposal is making permanent the bias-free policing requirements laid out by a federal monitor as part of Seattle Police Department’s federal consent decree over excessive use of force practices. Collecting demographic data on police interactions is particularly crucial, Harrell said. Continue reading
The current youth detention center from above.
King County judges will lock up fewer youths for minor offenses and elected officials are promising to bolster diversion programs as part of a plan announced Tuesday to address inherent racism in the county’s juvenile justice system.
King County Executive Dow Constantine joined King County Judge Susan Craighead to announce the plan as the county faces ongoing efforts by activists and community groups to stop the replacement of the aging youth detention center at 12th and Alder.
“Racial disparity has no place in our justice system here in King County, especially not in systems responsible for the well-being of our youth,” Constantine said.
Under the new initiative, judges would avoid ordering detention for low-level “status” offenses, like skipping school. County judges have also pledged to cut in half the number of youths detained for violating terms of their probation and to reduce detention times. Last year, there were 467 admissions to youth detention for probation violations — 42% of those were for black youths.
In order to divert those youths away from detention, County Council members plan to invest $4.3 million in job programs and expanded options for diversion.
Constantine also announced the county would cut 32 beds from the planned Children and Family Justice Center. The current 12th and Alder facility has 212 beds. The new voter-approved center was supposed to have 144 beds, which has now been reduced to 112. Officials said the true maximum capacity will be closer to 80. Continue reading
Capitol Hill Housing has announced it plans to honor the history of Liberty Bank by naming its planned development just east of 23rd and Union for the region’s first Black-owned bank.
In an announcement earlier this week, the nonprofit developer said its planned mixed-use, affordable apartment project at 24th and E Union will be called the Liberty Bank Building and will “feature multiple historical elements in the exterior design” as part of a set of recommendations from an advisory board convened by the developer “to learn more about community priorities for the site.”
“It is important that the story of Liberty Bank is told so that Seattle knows how a multicultural community came together and created an institution that allowed individuals to achieve economic independence and success,” Michelle Purnell Hepburn, daughter of Liberty Bank founders James C. and Mardine Purnell, said in the announcement. “The advisory board is very happy with the outcome of this process and is pleased with the work of Capitol Hill Housing.”
Liberty Bank Advisory Board members (L-R): Michelle Purnell-Hepburn, Derryl Durden, Merle Richlen, and Jocquelyn Duncan at the celebration on March 4th (Image: Joshua Okrent for CHH)
Protesters targeted a Saturday night campaign kickoff and Sunday morning brunches around Capitol Hill in a series of actions inspired by the #blacklivesmatter movement.
Saturday, a small group drew a huge police response to 19th and Madison’s Mount Zion Baptist Church when the protest group attempted to disrupt the campaign launch party for King County Council member and noted Seattle black leader Larry Gossett. Gossett, whose district includes Capitol Hill and the Central District, joined the rest of the county council earlier this month in unanimously approving an ordinance to build a new youth detention center at 12th and Alder. Continue reading
Juvenile court judge Susan Craighead.
Justice isn’t color-blind, at least in King County.
According to a special report published last month, black youth in KC are roughly six times more likely than white youth to face a judge in juvenile court. And while the number of youth referred to juvenile court has been falling for years, the bulk of that benefit has gone to whites.
Speaking on behalf of the more than fifty judges on her bench, she says, Judge Susan Craighead is calling for a series of “listening sessions” with key players in the juvenile justice system. This includes representatives of government institutions which are “upstream” of the court—police, schools, and child welfare services — but also the families and communities most impacted by juvenile courts.
“We feel like we need all hands on deck to try to figure out what more can we do with this problem,” Craighead told CHS. Continue reading