Capitol Hill is regularly mentioned as one of the trendiest neighborhoods to live and hang out in Seattle, but it also seems to have become a magnet for criminal behavior and hate incidents. What’s most alarming is that these incidents are happening in a community long-defined by its tolerance of cultural diversity and same-sex relationships.
In a Monday blog post by our community news partner Capitol Hill Seattle, writer Sam Heft-Luthy reported on a spike in crime and at least seven different hate incidents over the summer that included allegations of homophobia or racism.
Seattle police report an overall decrease in violent crime citywide, with the exception of robberies. Seattle police are not sure whether these recent incidents in Capitol Hill were perpetrated by repeat offenders, outsiders or drunk people frequenting the area’s many bars.
The perception of a crime spree has inflated my own fear of walking through Capitol Hill at night — something I used to do on a regular basis, whether it was to get to and from a friend’s house or a nearby eatery. Several weeks ago, I feared two men were following me home to my Capitol Hill building. It was the creepiest experience I’ve had in Seattle. Our front door auto-locked before they could enter the lobby.
The Seattle Times editorial board published this Aug. 22 editorial calling on the mayoral candidates to offer “longer term, broader strategies” to combat rampant crime in downtown Seattle. They should extend their attention to Capitol Hill — a destination for locals, students tourists and transients. No one should fear for his or her safety on a city street once the sun goes down. So how do we fight back against those who are up to no good? First, we make a point to let them know we’re paying attention.
On Thursday, the LGBTQ coalition known as Social Outreach Seattle plans to hold a peace march and candlelight vigil at 10 p.m., starting at the corner of Roy and Broadway. So far, the event’s Facebook page shows more than 200 people plan to attend. Everyone is invited, but check this Facebook event page for the ground rules.
Strength in numbers and increased vigilance should help deter violence in Capitol Hill. Seattle Police Department Public Affairs Det. Jeff Kappel also provided these reminders in an interview:
- Safety in numbers. Always try to walk with someone else.
- Walk in well-lit areas.
- Walk with purpose and be aware of your surroundings to avoid surprise attacks.
- “Don’t suppress your instinct.” If something doesn’t feel right, Kappel says it’s probably your survival mechanism kicking into high gear. Don’t ignore it.