Morning Fizz: Understandably Upset
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring last night's public safety meeting in the South End.
1. And the pendulum swings back. At least in the South End. Or, at least last night.
As it always does in Seattle when it comes to police issues, the public ping-pongs between either being outraged about over-aggressive policing and lacking police accountability, or outraged about rising crime and a lacking police force.
At a packed meeting at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center near Rainier Beach last night, where City Council member Bruce Harrell held a community meeting on public safety, the mood among the racially diverse and multi-generational crowd fell into the second category; neighbors were understandably upset at several recent high-profile shootings (five in the south end since April 19) and muggings, particularly those around light rail stations.
SPD, the city, and Sound Transit can point to numbers showing that crime is actually level or down compared to past years, but that didn't ease the crowd's concerns.
"All of this violence—I really want to see something happen."
African-American resident Omar Jackson said, "I'm here on behalf of my cousin Deszaun Smallwood , who was killed on the 24th and also on behalf of Kevin Brown , who was killed on the 19th. All of this violence—I really want to see something happen. I'm seeing the disconnect between the kids coming out of school and coming onto the streets with nothing to do."
Some people blame density and new-ish developments like the senior housing at Rainier and Letitia and the low-income housing at Courtland Place.
White resident Jean O'Brien said the Columbia City light rail station has brought crime to the neighborhood adding, "SEED's [Southeast Economic Development] Courtland Place and SHAG's [Senior Housing Assistance Group] Rainier Court put more eyes on the street. It's too bad that those eyes aren't doing anything to deter crime."
There was also quite a bit of talk about slow 911 response, which SPD said was because they respond quickly (they had stats) to calls where someone may die, but less quickly to calls where someone comes home, they've been robbed, and the person responsible has been gone for hours.
One African American woman who spoke raised concerns about the school-to-prison pipeline and how to keep kids out of that cycle. "It's not good enough to arrest them and then just release them. Too much of that is going on, and we can't afford it. The school-to-prison pipeline is alive and well, this pipeline where we're arresting these young people. We are sending the wrong message. We arrest them, let them go, arrest them, let them go, arrest them, let them go, and then when they turn 18, we slap the book at them. And then they're in the penal system."
And there was some talk about police staffing, which actually seems to be (relatively) adequate in the South End, but folks wanted SPD to do more to staff up and get people on the streets rather than in patrol cars.
According to slides that Harrell presented, police hours in the south precinct were comparable to other precincts and overall major crimes such as larceny and violent crime in the three sectors that make up Southeast Seattle has been relatively flat since 2011.
SPD talked about how people shouldn't stand next to the doors with their laptops and iPhones out, because that's a great way to get robbed. SPD's South Precinct Operations Lieutenant Steve Strand said: "There are crimes being committed in those areas because it's easy to get away by jumping on or jumping off that light rail system. We're aware of the concerns...and we're putting the right people in the right places at the right time, and we're having some successes. We've made a number of arrests."
2. Speaking of Harrell, while we don't expect the council to change the mayor's recent $15 minimum wage proposal much, look for Harrell—who's half-Japanese-American and half-African-American—to go for an amendment that gives small and minority-owned businesses a little more breathing room.
3. Jim Potter—a Seattle developer most recently known for developing hundreds of controversial micro-apartments, under the trademarked name "aPodments"—has died. According to an obituary, Potter died on May 6 "in the loving presence of his family and close friends after a graceful and thankfully short battle with cancer."
4. Erica will be talking about last night's public safety meeting, and public safety in Southeast Seattle, on KUOW's The Record today at noon. Tune in at 94.9 or online.