Category Archives: News

“Find It, Fix It” Walks Spark Community Support, Skepticism

by Curtis Kent

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray addresses South Seattle residents at a Find It, Fix It Walk in Rainier Beach
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray address South Seattle residents at a Find It, Fix It Walk in Rainier Beach

As Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s “Find It, Fix It” walks continue across the city, so to does the commotion amongst South Seattle residents surrounding their effectiveness at addressing crime in the city’s south end after an uptick of violence in recent weeks, including a drive-by shooting and multiple armed robberies, has flared community anxieties once again.

The walk series- announced in June as a part of the mayor’s effort to address public safety concerns and improve collaboration between communities and Seattle area law enforcement by direct engagement between city officials and local residents- have been concentrated in areas around the city designated as high frequency crime zones, or “hot spots” and got underway last month.

Three of the walks have been held in South Seattle neighborhoods- two in the Rainier Beach Area and one in the Othello neighborhood- and appear to have made good on the mayor’s insistence that they would act as a platform for residents to actively express community needs to the city, as they have been punctuated by frequent stops, so that urban blight- including graffiti, safety hazards and derelict buildings- could be brought to official’s attention.

“These walks are really important. We can’t sit behind  a desk in headquarters and get a sense of what’s happening in the community. It’s important to get out and see it first hand and it’s important to meet people and hear their perspectives.” Said Police Chief  Kathleen O’Toole, who along with City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, and City Attorney Pete Holmes has been a consistent presence at the majority of South Seattle walks.

“People really take pride in their neighborhoods in this city, and South Seattle is no exception.” She added. “We want a plan in place for this community that comes from the bottom up, instead of dictating to the various neighborhoods here what their priorities should be. There’s a lot of work to be done, but we feel that this approach will help get us there.”

It is one that seems appreciated, and long overdue, by many south end inhabitants who have become accustomed to what they feel has been  habitual inattention to their concerns from the city.

“These events are very good. They’re really once in a lifetime as far as I’m concerned.” Said Mohammed Keemo, owner of a local clothing store in the Rainier Beach area. “(City officials) being here in South Seattle means that they can now know the reality of our street. They can finally see what’s really going on. I love to finally have them here and I hope they continue to come.”

“This are the types of events we need more of, were the community comes together and takes a stand. It’s like I tell people, don’t just complain about the violence and the crime, come up with a solution. This is a solution.” Echoed Rev. Don Davis, who participated in a walk held at the Rainier Beach Link Light Rail Station.

Though the south end area walks have been fairly well attended as dozens of curious residents have flocked to them in order to gain an audience with local officials – despite the 7:00pm weekday start time for most of the walks -not every participant has held such favorable impressions as they have questioned the  city’s actual intentions behind them.

“While I  think it’s important that the media is out here, I think a lot of (the walks) are being done so that (city officials) can look like they’re doing something in this area, even though I don’t know if they actually are. Having media out here keeps them accountable. I hope.” Said Jacob Stuiksma, who is blind and who took part in a Rainier Beach neighborhood walk.

“I don’t understand why it takes walking around pointing out graffiti, even though it’s been here forever, to finally get it taken care of.  When someone who is blind can tell you what’s going on with graffiti and trash because they’re tripping over it, and have been tripping over it for a long time while the city has done nothing, there remains an awful lot that needs to be addressed.”He added.

City officials say they are mindful of much of the criticism that residents of South Seattle have had in regards to the walks and are doing their best to address it.

“Most of the people who have come out to these walks in this area are very positive, but to be honest, yes we’ve run into people who are skeptical because, let’s face it, Mayor Murray has only been in office for a few months, so there’s still a feeling out period. But, I think people will begin to see that these walks are taking the community in the right direction.” Said Mayoral Aide Jacob Chin.

Though skepticism over the walks from South Seattle residents seems a long way from dissipating – unsurprising for an area that has seen its fair share of deflated expectations as a result of limited follow-through after promises of community improvement from past mayoral regimes- there remains many who are willing to be optimistic as to their impact.

“I know that some people are bagging on the mayor for the walks, but the guy isn’t out here kissing babies for a couple of seconds and then hopping into his Rolls Royce to hob knob in Magnolia. The officials out here are really listening to what the community has to say.” Said Karl De Jong who has gone on two of the South Seattle walks.

 

 

Woman Robbed at Gunpoint in Rainier View Neighborhood

by Staff Writer

A woman was robbed less than an hour ago at a Metro bus stop on the corner of Beacon Ave S and 57th Street in the Rainier View neighborhood.

Seattle Police are looking for the suspect, identified as being an African-American male in his late teens.

The woman had just finished her in home caretaker shift  and was waiting for the 107 bus when a young man brandished a gun – pointing it directly in her face- and demanded that she relinquish her purse. He then fled without further incident once the woman obliged.

The suspect is still at large and it is advised that you contact the Seattle Police Department immediately should you have any information as to his whereabouts.

 

Rainier Valley Recieves Funding for Neighborhood Projects

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw announced new funding for three Rainier Valley neighborhood projects today: The Columbia City Gateway, the Ethiopian Community Center Kitchen renovation and the Orca K-8 School Playground renovation.  $100,000 will go to each of the projects via the City of Seattle’s Neighborhood Matching Large Projects Fund.

“I’m delighted to see these projects receive funding, all of which were initiated and implemented by community members,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, chair of the City Council’s Neighborhoods Committee.  “This is a shining example of true neighborhood empowerment, where community volunteer hours and community fundraising are leveraged into additional support.”

Details of the three projects are as follows:

Columbia City Gateway

Mobilize the community in transforming the unsightly and neglected Northeast corner of the Columbia School property into a signature streetscape and mini-park as a welcoming “gateway” to the neighborhood.

Ethiopian Community of Seattle Community Kitchen Project

Renovate and update approximately 900 sq. ft. commercial kitchen and bring it fully up to code. The project aims to create a vibrant hub of community building, healthy eating, learning, celebration and sharing.

Orca K-8 School Playground Renovation

Improve site entry, acquire new playground equipment, expand all-weather surface area, a natural outdoor classroom “Council Ring,” running track, renovated play field, pole and ramp course (for all but especially highly disabled individuals), ADA accessible textile nature path, expanded seating and garden beds and safety improvements.

Recipients of the Neighborhood Matching Fund match their awards through a combination of locally raised money, donated materials and expertise and volunteer labor.  A Citywide Review Team consisting of community volunteers reviewed applications and selected these Rainier Valley projects, amongst others, for funding.  Council approved their recommendation on Monday, August 11th.

Two South Seattle Non-Profits Receive Community Awards

by Staff Writer

Two South Seattle area non-profits have received “People Helping People Awards” from Boeing Employee’s Credit Union (BECU).

CIty Fruit
City Fruit’s Terri Iverson receives their People Helping People Award.

Both City Fruit – which is located in the Beacon Hill neighborhood and harvests fruit from residential trees to donate to those who are food insecure – and the Rainier Beach Community Empowerment Coalition (RBCEC) received $5000 apiece as a part of BECU’s Community Benefit Award program.

The program asked BECU members to vote for their favorite area non-profits that they felt had made a profound impact within their communities.

City Fruit and the RBCEC received enough nominations to beat out over 500 other Puget Sound area non-profits to be recognized as 2 of only 16 total organizations that were honored for that distinction.

Votes were tallied over a three month period beginning on  May 1st and recipients were honored with a ceremony at the Museum of Flight.

“The People Helping People award from BECU will help City Fruit harvest additional fruit from residential properties and Seattle parks, and in turn, help feed more of our neighbors in need. On an average day, City Fruit harvests around 500 pounds of fruit – pears, plums, and apples – that will go on to feed more than 2,000 families throughout Seattle.” said Catherine Morrison, City Fruit’s Executive Director.

Woman Dies in Mt.Baker House Fire

Seattle Fire Department officials are stating that a woman died after a house fire early this morning in South Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood.

Officials say the woman was unconscious when firefighters rescued her from a second-floor bedroom. They attempted to perform CPR on her but could not revive her. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The fire erupted around 1 a.m. in the 3700 Block of Cascadia Avenue South.

Firefighters were forced to evacuate the home when flames became too dangerous as the blaze entirely destroyed the two-story home.

No one else appeared to be injured.

Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the  fire.

Woman Assaulted in Library

originally published on Komonews.com

SEATTLE — Police say four men pistol whipped, beat and robbed a woman inside a Seattle library Monday evening, and the attack may have been related to a recent shooting.

The 21-year-old woman was inside the Rainier Beach Library just before 5:45 p.m. when four men attacked her, according to police. One of the men pistol whipped the woman while the other three kicked and punched her.

A library employee saw beating and began pounding on a nearby window. The noise spooked the attackers, who grabbed the woman’s purse and took off on foot, according to police.

Less than a day earlier, the victim was inside a Rainier Valley home when an argument spiraled into a shooting that left one man fighting for his life. The woman spoke to police about the shooting, and she told police she had received several threatening messages in the hours since.

One Facebook post said, “You better not let us find you,” according to police.

Medics arrived at the library and treated the woman for cuts and bruises.

Police have not released any information about the suspects.

Bash at the Beach: Event Brings Out Rainier Beach Community

Proving to be every bit the party that its title intimated, the Rainier Beach Back 2 School Bash – put on by Rainier Beach Community Empowerment Coalitioncommandeered the plaza of the Rainier Beach Community Center this past Saturday.

Replete with a DJ Booth (DJ Uncle Guy) that blasted out a diverse mixture of hits that inspired an impromptu group dance to Pharrell Williams’ song Happy, sequined frolicking lion-dragons of Vovinam that enthralled the hundreds of children and adults in attendance with a lively performance that spilled out all over the plaza, and dozens of pop up tents with animated host- which included Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle City Light,  Bikeworks and Got Green amongst others – it appeared that the Champs-Elysees had been transported to the corner of Rainier and Henderson for a few hours.

RB Moving Forward
Photo by Tady Williams

However, the Bash – in its eleventh year- wasn’t all fun and games. As it also functioned as a school supply giveaway for area youth, who were required to visit several resource tables stationed at the event – which provided everything from information on public safety to higher education- in order to receive a back to school package which included notebooks, backpacks, calculators, and other necessary, and increasingly costly, school items.

“This was so fun and exciting! I was so glad for all the opportunities to speak to people at the (resource) tables, and get a ton of information that you don’t normally get.” Said Chris Smith, a young attendee who brought along his mother and younger sister and left with a new backpack and a stack of free books courtesy of the Bash.

Usually held in Beer Sheva Park, the event was forced to relocate to the plaza due to the construction currently taking place at the park. The new locale actually appeared to boost community attendance as close to a record number packed the square just outside the community center, including many who found out about the Bash through happenstance.

“I was just driving, on my way home, and I saw all this activity at the plaza. I didn’t know what exactly was going on but it looked public. So,  I made a U-turn and picked up two of my grandchildren from their place and said: Let’s go check this out!” Commented Patricia Newman, a 19 year resident of the Rainier Beach area who was attending for the first time.

With the huge crowds displaying the rich cultural diversity that the southend of Seattle has become identified with, Gregory Davis -who heads up the coalition- was ecstatic that the turnout flew in the face of what he feels is an unfair perception that brands the community as fragmented.

“I’m overjoyed at the number of people here! This is our eleventh year, so we knew that we’d get interest from the community and that’s what we’re trying to do – to  be a community building environment. We’re excited about it,  as a community we want to be able to support people with resources and information as they go back to school.” Davis said.

As hundreds flocked to the event right up until its waning hours, community solidarity seemed a theme latched onto by most attendees. “Rainier Beach really gets a bad rap. Yes, there are a few people who engage in activities that give everyone else a bad name, but everyone here, and there are a lot of us, are here to show support for this community we live in and that we aren’t going anywhere.” Said September Jewel an event volunteer.

In an area that has seemingly made headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent months, event participants hoped that besides school supplies and community socializing, the Bash would also provide a glaring counterpoint to the negative portrayal that the Rainier Beach area has received in much of the media .

“This is really what the truth is, what you’re seeing here.” Asserted Davis. “The diversity, the people cooperating with each other. This is what we’re about. Look, naturally we’re not responsible for the press that gets out there about us, but if people came here and saw this they would know what the real truth is in terms of what’s happening in South Seattle.”

Police Apprehend Two Suspects Allegedly Involved in Drive By Shooting

Moments ago Seattle Police and King County Sheriff’s Officers apprehended two suspects in the Rainier View neighborhood who earlier in the day had led them on a high speed chase.

The two suspects- who were allegedly involved in a drive by shooting yesterday in the Rainier Beach area- chose to abandon their black Chevy Tahoe in the middle of Luther Avenue South. They then attempted to hide out in the area rather than continue their getaway by truck.

“At first I just thought they were friends of my boyfriend, but then I saw them just leave their truck in the middle of the street and start running. Then literally about five seconds later all these police cars showed up and surrounded it.” Said Laquisha Frank who was visiting her boyfriend in the neighborhood at the time and was an eyewitness to the suspects ditching their car.

“I was scared that something bad was going to happen. When I saw the police get out of their cars with their rifles I was like I’m staying in my boyfriends house and locking the door!”Frank continued.

After a 90 minute search that included the usage of several police dogs, officers apprehended the at a 3 way traffic stop on Beacon Avenue South

 

 

 

are searching for two suspects of African descent who earlier today abandoned their black Chevy Tahoe in the middle of Luther Avenue in the Rainier View area.

It is believed that both suspects are hiding in the surrounding neighborhoods of Campbell Hill,

37th District State Senate Showdown Set

Election 2014

Pramila Jayapal  and Louis Watanabe will face off against each other for the 37th District’s state senate seat in November’s general election.

After a highly contested primary race that featured six candidates vying to replace the retiring Adam Kline, Jayapal and Watanabe emerged as the top two vote-getters in Tuesday night’s primary election.

With a low voter turnout indicative of most non-presidential year primary elections – Jayapal received 51.25 percent of the vote, to Watanabe’s 17.2 percent.

While Jayapal’s finish within the top two came as no surprise- the human rights activists was deemed the front runner almost as soon as she announced her intention to run – Watanabe – an entrepreneur and business professor from Beacon Hill- had to endure an uphill climb to place second in the race, fending off four other challengers (3 Democrats and 1 Republican) for the position.

The candidate frequently attended crime prevention themed walks in the South Seattle area, and was spotted at several Night Out events leading up to tonight’s results.

“I’m grateful to all the voters in the 37th District who voted for me, and I hope to make them proud come election day.”Watanabe stated.

With unemployment, economic development, and public safety being paramount in the minds of South Seattle voters, and the 37th District housing almost the entire area, Jayapal and Watanabe are sure to engage in a competitive race right up until election day on November 4th.

South Seattle Readies for “Night Out”

Seattle Night OutSouth Seattle will be bombarded by a host of events tomorrow night, including cookouts, block parties, and safety demonstrations as its neighborhoods- from Mt.Baker to Skyway- will join  the rest of the country in celebrating the 30th annual National Night Out Against Crime.

First celebrated in the Seattle area in 1984, The Night Out- as it is commonly known- is intended to arouse community involvement in crime prevention activities, police-citizen partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie, all while delivering a clear message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized in standing against them .

With South Seattle suffering a steep increase in its crime rate over the past year, and consequent concerns over public safety in the area, it is a message that many residents relish delivering.

“I’m doing this because I think it’s desperately important for our entire community.” Says Anne Porter, who is heading up a Night Out event in her North Rainier neighborhood where she’ll be passing out disaster preparedness packages.

While the events focus primarily on hindering crime in the area, it is the valuable opportunity they provide for community interaction that most intrigues Porter.

“I want to know my neighbors better. We’re hoping to get as many people stopping by as possible. We need to galvanize this community.”

That sentiment is echoed by Cynthia Kniffin, a Columbia City resident who is hosting her own Night Out themed block party. “We hope to get to know who is on our block. The deeper the connections you make with your neighbors the better it is for the safety and togetherness of the whole neighborhood.”

A list of South Seattle Night Out events taking place on August 5th is below and will be updated periodically.

1) 37th Avenue South Night Out. Start Time: 6:00pm. Organizer:Stephen Bentsen. Location: 37th Avenue South Seattle WA

2) South Holly Street Night Out. Start Time: 5:00pm.Organizer: Ingrid Berkhout. Location: South Holly Street between 39th Ave and 42nd Ave Seattle, WA

3) 39th Avenue South Block Party: Start Time: 6:00pm. Organizer: Cynthia Kniffin (phone: email: cynthiakniffin@gmail.com) Location: 39th Ave S between Genesee and Oregon (near Rainier Community Center)

4) 28th Avenue South Seattle Night Out Potluck: Start Time: 6:00pm. Organizer: Anne Porter (email: annesiemion@yahoo.com) Location: 1701 28th Ave South Seattle, WA (Mt. Baker/North Rainier)  Note: Children’s activities will take place at this event.