A Bulletproof Community Spirit

by Miguel Jimenez

There were ten shots fired. Or at least that’s what I think we counted while sitting at a large table near the front window of Rainier Beach’s Jude’s Old Town last Tuesday.

Darting to the back of the bar, all of us crouched to survey the scene from the large front windows. The disparate conversations broke apart as the whole bar began asking questions and assembling facts. There was a palpable sense of caution bordering on fear, but certainly not panic.

I called the last member of my friend group who was still on his way to make sure he was ok. I don’t want to normalize the incident, as if this is a regular occurrence that happens all the time in South Seattle, and I cringe at the thought of the next Seattle Times article about the story.

After a few more minutes of silence we walked back to our conversation at the table by the window, yet my mind was elsewhere. I kept thinking about the shooter. No one deserves to live in a place that is unsafe, where they fear for their life. This feels especially true for that individual. What drove this person to a place where they made the decision to open fire out of the window of a moving vehicle on a busy Rainier Avenue at 6:00pm in the evening? I thought about the reactions reporters would be trying to get after the story.

“Where were you and how did you feel?”

I thought about who I would have chosen to interview. Maybe I would have called up Marvin Charles from the D.A.D.S program. Marvin and his wife Jeanett, along with their team, have been working at South Lake High School to help young fathers remain a constant presence in their children’s lives.

They are part of a system of organizations trying to ensure teens act responsibly by leading with example. Or maybe I would try to find a minute with Dominique Davis who runs Community Passageways. His organization works with youth who have already entered the judicial system.

They work to help youth process trauma while beginning to deal with this country’s astronomical rates of recidivism.

The shooting stirred up a lot emotion for me and my neighbors and colleagues around the table. We each shared our experiences, and lack thereof, surrounding shootings during our lifetime. We were frustrated and exasperated, but not for a minute did I ever think “I need to leave this bar” or “I need to move out of this neighborhood” or even “I need to leave this city”.

For us life continues. Our meeting continued. We continued to discuss our plans to build a youth employment training program. The work continues.


4 thoughts on “A Bulletproof Community Spirit”

  1. Great piece. With you on each point as neighbors in CC suffered a similar situation early Saturday a.m. when heavy caliber gunfire was exchanged near 39 Ave. S./S. Dawson/Rainier Ave. S.
    Again, the urgency and empathy came together to react safely, observe from a distance, report accurately and finally reassure the understandably shaken.

  2. Stanislav, How do we know that the author and the programs being written about create positive change? What metrics are in place to study the programs and see that the numbers of these shootings go down? Where is the rigorous, funded, academic study of them? The article and programs may, or may not, lead to improvement. Hoping that they will is not good enough. When such programs have public funding, they must have public reporting and funded studies of them.

  3. “What drove this person to a place where they made the decision to open fire out of the window of a moving vehicle on a busy Rainier Avenue at 6:00pm in the evening?”

    The answer to that question can be found by looking at Seattle gangsters’ social media feeds. And the social media pages of their family & friends.

    After reviewing their public posts, you will find the simple answer to your query: the urge to get rich quick, and to show off their bravado, power and cash (good luck finding any deep meaning)

    The second answer is: the shooters are almost always high on codeine cough syrup and weed, which tends to cloud the decision making process.

    The notion there is gentrification, racism, institutional bias, etc at work might be a self-gratifying exercise, but also a futile one. The shooter will always be pursuing very short-term gratification based on a reactionary emotional response; meanwhile, everybody else wastes their time trying to dig around for some obscure, pointless historical perspective.