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Photo courtesy Constance Magorty

In the early morning hours of July 23, beloved International District community activist Donnie Chin was fatally shot while caught in the line of fire of a drive-by shooting. His passing created a groundswell of emotion in the community. Flowers, handwritten notes, and pictures of Donnie were hung outside of storefronts across the International District. “Donnie was our protector,” says Kerry Taniguchi, a lifelong friend and veteran member of Chin’s International District Emergency Center.

After founding the IDEC in 1968, Chin the “silent guardian” tirelessly served his community for more than 40 years, patrolling the streets, providing meals for the elderly, sending out newsletters, and helping raise neighborhood kids while their parents worked day jobs. Chin was offered a job at the Seattle Fire Department but turned it down so he could continue his work in the International District. For Donnie, the people and the neighborhood were everything. “He knew the transients. They were people to him,” says Taniguchi. “He didn’t stay out on the side of the line. He served everyone.”

Chin shied away from the spotlight, refusing to take credit or be glamorized for his efforts. But he did not shy away from colorful language and sarcasm—traits the local residents remember fondly. “Donnie never wanted to get a pat on the back. He’d cuss you out first. Then go on with his business,” remembers Taniguchi. “He had his serious side, his gentle side, his fun side,” says Sheila Su, a former International District resident who grew up hanging around the IDEC. “But he always had his caring side.”

 

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