by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
MELROSE & E. PINE ST.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 22
Shots rang out on Capitol Hill and a young man is dead. A man walking home after leaving a Gay bar on the Hill heard someone behind him say, 'Hey,' and when he turned around he was knocked out, cut open from the punch he did not see coming, and his phone was missing. Another Gay man and his friend were walking to the QFC nearest Union and 12th when they were approached by a young man who asked them for the time, somehow they found themselves being lunged at by the man who was now holding a giant piece of sharp glass shard, trying to slash them. They called the police and when the cops found the man, he continued yelling at them, in front of the police, that he was in a gang and that they would soon be dead. This is Capitol Hill now. And the worst part of it all is that aside from carping on Facebook the resident of Capitol Hill have been too busy, too bothered, too progressive and too damned spineless to seriously address the problem. It is my goal to change that.
On Saturday, August 22, at 9 p.m. in the parking lot across the street from Baltic Room, at Melrose and E. Pine St., Social Outreach Seattle (SOSea) the social justice nonprofit that operates out of Capitol Hill of which I am founder and president, will hold a candlelight vigil to condemn violent crime in the neighborhood. A young man was shot and killed there shortly after 2 a.m., August 16. Hundreds of others were caught in the crossfire. Luckily nobody else was killed or injured. Seattle Counseling Service, one of our community's most celebrated and necessary resources, found a bullet hole in one of their windows with the bullet lodged in the ceiling. Luckily, the shooting took place when SCS had already closed for the evening.
At the candlelight vigil we will publicly condemn the murder of Ramon Mitchell, 25, from gun violence, condemn the recent attacks on people like Daniel Goodman, the man who is organizing this effort with SOSea, condemn nightclubs and bars and other businesses that attract customers that bring their violence into our neighborhood without any care for what happens as long as they make money, and condemn the no-accountability status that our leaders, elected or appointed, currently enjoy because either they or their followers will label you something-ist or something-phobic to serve their agenda, however wrong they might be.
We will also write messages of peace and safe neighborhoods on a banner which will then be walked over to the Baltic Room at which time they will be asked to hang the banner up outside of their club. As would be expected and necessary, we will also observe a moment of silence in honor of all the victims of violent crime - past and present - and raise our candles into the night sky to condemn violence in our neighborhood. Following that, we will walk, not march, but walk on the sidewalks to the pedestrian safety zone on Broadway and E. Pike St., where we will once again, observe a moment of silence and raise our candles high as a public condemnation of violence overtaking out streets and lives. We don't have to put up with it. We can do something about it. Please join us.
I had never heard of Danny Goodman and the same was true for him of me. He lives on the Hill, works on the Hill and despite the same for me, we just had never cross paths before. That is until Tuesday afternoon.
Goodman was looking for answers. And when he got tired of just looking, because he has a tremendous amount of healthy self-respect and believes that people who are elected and paid to do a job ought to be doing just that, he started to demand answers. And he did this in a brilliant way. On Monday he self-published a letter he wrote to Mayor Ed Murray, Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole, City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and others demanding to have answers as to why crime, especially violent crime, goes on in our neighborhood and is, in fact, getting worse and more violent than ever despite what local data seems to reflect, and why they aren't - in a sense - doing their job to keep him and others on Capitol Hill safe.
Goodman wrote, 'Our city is in a crisis, and I demand to know what you are doing to end it.'
After leaving R Place after midnight last weekend, while walking on Boylston, 30 feet from E. Pine St. by Hot Mama's Pizza, Goodman says he heard someone behind him say, 'Hey!' When he turned around a man who he says looked to be in his early thirties was smiling at him. The man was not alone, he was with friends. Goodman says almost immediately he was punched in the face.
'That's all that I remember of the incident,' he said.
Goodman does not know how long he was out for but that 'it was long enough for the blood from the gash on my forehead to trickle its way along my scalp, through my hair, and crust up on the back of my head where I was lying face up on the concrete.'
When he regained consciousness, two women were hovering over him asking if he was OK.
'They called the police for me, as my phone had been stolen,' he recalls in the letter. 'I went to Harborview Medical and got stitches for the gash in my forehead. I was told that the hole from the inside of my gums through to the outside of my face would heal on its own.'
The responding officer, SPD Officer Bale gave Goodman a business card with incident number written on it. But when Goodman went to check online and see a police report, he was unable to find it. What was odd, he said, is that many police reports from the weekend describing incidents similar to his attack were available yet his was not.
'Thursday night a 24 year old man was shot to death walking his dog in the Central District,' Goodman continued in his letter. 'Saturday night, there was a murder outside of the Baltic Room, blocks from where I was mugged. Considering that there were 2 murders so close to home this weekend, I'm so thankful to be alive and merely suffering from some face wounds and a stolen cell phone. But I want to know what's going on.'
Goodman asks, 'Is this amount of violent crime on Capitol Hill normal, or is it on the rise? Is my neighborhood becoming an unsafe place to live, or has it always been so? If crime is on the rise in Capitol Hill, what are your theories to explain the rise? What is the city doing to try to make it better? What can I do? Are robberies really down 34%? Why hasn't my incident been reported on seattle.gov? Can you assure me that my incident will be reported as a robbery? What checks are in place to ensure that no reported incidents are left out of the public records?'
He continues, 'A group of thugs left me unconscious and bleeding on the sidewalk. Assault and robbery are felonies. Thank God I wasn't one of the murdered Seattle citizens. Who is working on finding the guys who did this to me? I haven't received any follow up phone calls from the police. Does the City Attorney's office have a record of this? What are they planning to do if a suspect is arrested?'
Goodman explains in the letter that Officer Bale gave no direction as to what his next steps should be. According to Goodman, 'His lack of direction may as well be interpreted as saying, 'There's nothing else we're really going to do about this because this isn't a very serious crime to us, so just try walking around your neighborhood without feeling paranoid that you're going to be jumped.'
Goodman then went on to ask about the emphasis patrols the mayor's LGBTQ task force recommended. And more.
Speaking directly to City Attorney Pete Holmes, Goodman says, 'You are in charge of prosecuting such criminals. What are you doing?' And Goodman asked Kshama Sawant what she is doing to help aid what he dubbed 'crime crisis' on the Hill since she is running for City Council to represent him in District 3.
According to Goodman, he heard back from police Chief O'Toole and the Mayor himself. But Holmes and Sawant never reached out.
Goodman asked if the SPD Safe Place program could be expanded. 'It's great for a business to say that they want to be a safe place for a victim, but what can a business do if it wants to help decrease crime so that there are fewer victims?'
Goodman ended his poignant letter by telling the officials to 'Lead us on this.'
'Stop what happened to me from being the usual thing we read about every weekend,' he said. 'Do something to find the thugs who attacked me. This could happen to anyone in the city. If the thugs had left you or any of your family members to die at Boylston and Pine, would you ensure that the crime was reported? Would you make sure that the SPD found these thugs and were prosecuted?'
Goodman reached out to me because he said that someone told him about my community organizing and that he should contact me. I'm glad he did. Goodman is level-headed, did not write the letter from a place of hate or spite, and throughout the letter asked a number of times what he and others could do to help fix what is happening out there. I was glad to help.
SOSea, under my direction, focuses on a tremendous amount of problems or issues the LGBTQ and allied communities face. Violence is one of those issues and we have arguably been just about the only group on the Hill that has done anything about it. We've tried anyway. Short from becoming police officers ourselves, I'm not quite sure how we could do more. I am the co-chair of the LGBTQ Advisory Council to SPD and a member of Mayor Murray's LGBTQ Task Force. SOSea has worked on police reform, anti-bias crime prevention, personal safety and self-defense training and we even operate a neighborhood safety shuttle - all with no funding except for what we receive in small donations from the community. We have also organized many candlelight vigils and marches to condemn crime. We believe that 'OUR NEIGHBORHOOD BELONGS TO US, NOT CRIME.' For more information about our safety initiatives go to www.SocialOutreachSeattle.com. Make a donation if you can! Also, LIKE us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SocialOutreachSeattle.
After I wrote Goodman a letter outlining some of the issues in the neighborhood, he called to speak with me in depth about a few things and that's when we began to organize the candlelight vigil for Saturday. We both agree that murder and gun violence in our neighborhood must be publicly condemned. It is the right thing to do. We cannot stand by and be a silent witness to murder.
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