Emerald in the Rough: When The Dog and Pony Show Came to Town

By Cindi Laws

Special to the South Seattle Emerald

Find it, FIx It walks

The latest tools of the City of Seattle, Find-It/Fix-It walks, were designed to have regular citizens meet their city leaders, to chat with police officers, and to point out things like graffiti and trash. Those need to be pointed out because, obviously, no one from the City has noticed these things recently.

These walks were designed to assuage the fears of people living and working in South Seattle. To show that city leaders were indeed paying attention. Attention to the fact that, since April 19, more people have been killed in the 37th Legislative District, which South Seattle dominates, than in the War in Afghanistan. Attention to the fact that, while violent crime has fallen city-wide, gun violence in the South Precinct is up 165 percent over all of 2013. Attention to the fact that the South Precinct has its 8th new police captain in five years. Attention to the fact that 75 percent of robberies in the South Precinct occur within 250 feet of transit stations, and that robberies are way, way up.

On Tuesday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray joined in the fifth “Find-It/Fix-It” walk, the second in the Rainier Beach area. It was gratifying to see the Mayor in the neighborhood, especially since he missed the July 22nd Rainier Beach event. Tuesday’s walk was also attended by Councilmember Sally Clark (a resident of the Brighton neighborhood), and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes (who lives south of Seward Park). Councilmember Bruce Harrell, a lifelong resident of South Seattle, participated in the first three walks.

But residents of South Seattle should be very concerned that none of the other seven members of the Seattle City Council have bothered to show up at the Find-it/Fix-It walks. Not the only member who served as a police officer. Not the only member who served as a Deputy King County Prosecutor. Not the Vice Chair of the Public Safety Committee.

Of the 80 people participating in Tuesday’s walk, more than half are paid city employees, representing the departments of police and fire, parks, neighborhoods, transportation, and lots of young interns and junior staff from the Mayor’s office. It was uplifting to show such a huge city contingent that the Seattle city limits extend beyond McClellan Street. Welcome to Rainier Beach, Mr. Mayor.

One could be forgiven for being skeptical that these walks would accomplish much. Since the first Rainier Beach walk two weeks ago, we’ve had numerous drive-by shootings, the home break-in and sexual assault of a child, and the pistol-whipping of a young woman in the Rainier Beach Public Library. Within hours of the Find-it/Fix-It walk around the Genesee Station, teen girls were robbed at gunpoint. More shootings here, there, everywhere in South Seattle.

Refreshingly, newly-hired Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole walked side-by-side with real neighbors genuinely excited by her presence. But while it was great to rub elbows with police brass, there was a disturbing disconnect.  Capt. John Hayes seemingly wanted to fill Robin Williams’ void by serving as jovial entertainer-in-chief. If he was describing, at any point, the violence that occurred in our library a few hours earlier, it wasn’t apparent because his demeanor was nothing but casual and flip. DJ, play me some Bobby McFerrin.

The first Rainier Beach Find-it/Fix-It walk had us leaving the light rail station, heading east on Henderson. Tripping on overgrown, unkempt street trees and broken sidewalks, my friend, who is blind, could see more blight and decay than city staff.  A nine-year old girl was bleeding from overgrown blackberry vines arching over sidewalks and onto city streets. I asked a representative of the Department of Transportation why the city couldn’t take care of this, especially when it’s on a block served by light rail and several bus lines. “This is private property,” she said. “It’s the owner’s responsibility.”

“I don’t (expletive) care,” I exploded in exasperation at her arrogant, let-them-eat-cake attitude. “Take care of it! Look at this bleeding girl and a fallen blind man; this is a hazard that needs to be fixed.” She argued with me, sputtering excuse after excuse why SDOT couldn’t help. Worse, with a straight face, she said that Rainier Beach gets the same resources as Queen Anne. And so goes the denial; so the lies are framed.

It’s one thing to ignore problems in South Seattle, as city leaders have done recently. But to take us on a stroll around a neighborhood, acting as if all is under control, as our city leaders praise their own responsiveness, is simply a Dog & Pony Show. We need the promised increase in police presence; we need those officers out of their cars and meeting youth and families; we need city administrators who won’t make excuses and will make progress; we need elected leaders who care as much about South Seattle as they do about South Lake Union.

Cindi Laws is a resident of the Rainier View neighborhood and a long-time activist.

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.

(Freedom) School is in Session: South Seattle Area School Unmasks Racism

by Marcus Harrison Green

 

Photo by Jamie Epting
Photo by Jamie Epting

The sight of students with rapt attention, hanging onto every syllable uttered by their instructors as their minds rush to digest the extraordinary knowledge being served – so it can promptly return for a second helping – would seem a dream scenario at any school across the country, let alone one located in the South Seattle area, but indeed that reality transpired last week as around forty students – from high school to college aged- willingly exchanged basking in the glorious summer sun for an elusive education on the systematic structures of racism at the Tyree Scott Freedom School held at Beacon Hill’s UCC Bethany Church.

If that sounds like some heavy scholarship during the dog days of summer it is intended to, shared Ariel Hart a school facilitator. “I feel like this is a rare opportunity for youth to unlearn lessons that they’ve internalized throughout their lives, and other ones that are absent from the majority of school’s curriculum. This is a place that teaches people how to organize to help change things, and to take a look at how racism oppresses everyone, whether you’re a person of color of not.”

The school- named in  honor of Tyree Scott, the well known Seattle area civil rights activist and community organizer- models itself after the first Freedom Schools that emerged across the country during the civil rights era as a response to racial inequities within the public education system.

Seattle first joined the Freedom School movement in 1966 when around 4000 -mainly African American –  elementary and high school students boycotted the Seattle Public School District to protest the racial segregation that was routinely being practice by the district at the time. A forgotten history of the city that is well worth remembering according to Dustin Washington of American Friends Service Committee, who also serves as one of the school’s lead organizers.

“People see Seattle as a very progressive city, but the reality is that racism continues to persist in our classrooms and everyday life. There’s a reason that youth of color are 4 to 5 times more likely  than white youth to be suspended in our school system. There’s a reason why they’re twice as likely to drop out than white youth, and it goes far beyond the myth that they don’t have enough individual will and self-determination. It has much more to do with the systems we’re all prisoner to.”

It was this focus on systems, rather than individuals, as the catalyst for the societal ills that plague communities of color that was at the forefront of much of the teaching the students received during the week. As a result, the subjects they tackled were ones you’d be hard pressed to find mentioned in any other classroom within the city limits – as they grappled with Economic Inequality,  Long-Term Juvenile Incarceration, and Disparate Health Outcomes. All issues were intensely scrutinized through a racial lense.

It was a view that was truly eye opening according to many of the students. “What I learned was kind of a shock to me.” Said Asia Davis, a first time attendee who was aghast after learning about the potential causes behind the considerable discrepancy in infant mortality rates between African- American women and their white counterparts. “I go to a school that has mostly white students, so I feel fortunate that I m going to be able to bring back what I’ve learned to my school and share it with the others that go there who would otherwise have no clue.”

The school’s purpose was not only to present provocative subjects in a way that many of the students had never before encountered, but to also develop the next generation of civil and human rights leaders, fostering in them a sense of empowerment that would eventually allow them to impact their communities in an enduring way much as the school’s namesake did.

With that in mind the Tyree Scott Freedom School eschewed a top-down approach to its pedagogy, instead favoring a process that made its students largely responsible- via forged consensus and small group discussions- for everything from creating a decorum by which they agreed to treat each other by, to exploring creative solutions that acted to redress the social grievances presented to them at the school.

“I’ve really learned to be a leader here, and it’s something that I can apply whether I’m organizing people to help house the homeless, or to stop people from being racist as it’s a learned thing. No one is born with that trait.” said Saara Jones a student who attended the school to become a better organizer.

The tactic of allowing them a liberal amount of control in the educational process seemed to go over quite well with the students, many of whom were more familiar with having a pedantic lesson plan dictated to them at their respective public schools. “This school is really magnificent in terms of, not only the knowledge that is installed in the young people here, but in terms of  wisdom, and creativity being reciprocal. We get to learn from each other, and teach each other at the same time.” Said Rashaud Johnson, a member of Youth Undoing Institutionalized Racism (YUIR) and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) who was attending the Freedom School for a fourth time to  gain knowledge of how  to best organize against the building of the new $210 million King County Juvenile Detention Center that he felt was an extension of the school to prison pipeline.

“I’ve realized from being here, and just talking amongst my peers, the responsibility that comes with being white. It’s hard to address that issue anywhere, especially in a normal school setting with teachers who don’t really get the topic, or want anything to do with it. So it’s great that we can have discussions with people our own age, so that everyone can get a deep understanding of how detrimental racism is, and that we really need to stop with the thinking that puts any race superior to another.” asserted Celia Carina Von Berk, one of several non African – American students who attended Tyree Scott.

The school had a commencement of sorts this past Friday, as all of the students traveled  to Seattle City Hall, using what they had learned

Freedom School students speak  at Seattle City Hall
Freedom School students speak at Seattle City Hall

throughout the week,to present- in front of an audience of city officials that included Councilmember Nick Licata, City Attorney Pete Holmes, Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim and Office of Civil Rights Director Patricia Lally- their proposals on how to remedy the  quagmires associated with the city’s Education, Economic and Juvenile Justice systems- problems that had perplexed many local legislators for longer than the majority of the students had been alive.

After the presentations the students blended amongst the audience and broke into three separate groups to discuss how the submitted proposals could be implemented at the city level.  A discussion that the Freedom School attendees found worthwhile. “You had all these different generations cooped up under one roof and actually talking and listening to each other. There was no complaining, just a lot of respect, whether you were a student or an older person. This was a beautiful experience.” said Rashaud Johnson.

Added Simone Evans another student at the Freedom School who had attended to improve her community organizing skills “I’m going to take the information I’ve learned here and go out and do something with it. I can’t wait to come back next year!”

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.”

Sunday Stew: Undying Love

by Lola Peters

Tango of Love
Tango of Love by Emil Marian

We stand
separated by the shimmer of
Time
Space
yours the sweet, carefree smile
of contentment

Love, you say
is Action, not Feeling
Taking out the trash
changing the toilet roll
cleaning out the fridge
emptying the dishwater
Serving one another
moment-to-moment

I awake with tears on my cheeks
grateful
you have not forgotten me
Aware of the irony
in walking away again
from my own Shadow

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,

This Weekend In South Seattle: Back to School Bash, Beatwalk and Science of “Female Happiness”

WeekendEvents this weekend in the South Seattle area

 

Friday, August 8th

Movies: Opening of The Hundred Foot Journey, showtimes 11:00 am, 2:00pm, 4:45pm,  and 7:30pm @ Ark Lodge Cinemas 4816 Rainier Avenue South Seattle , WA 98118. More Info: http://www.arklodgecinemas.com

Community: VFW Meat Raffle from 4 to 7pm @ Skyway VFW Hall 7421 S. 126th St Seattle, WA 98178. More Info: email persimmon1859@gmail.com

Youth: SYEP Open House from 4:00pm-7:00pm @Rainier Vista Neighborhood House 4410 29th Avenue S. Seattle 98108. More Info: 206-386-1375

Community: Mt.Baker Park Play Area Renovation Public Meeting #2. Meeting starts at 6:30pm @ Mt.Baker Community Clubhouse 2811 Mt. Rainier Drive South, Seattle 98144

Movie: Showing of Orgasm, Inc. The Strange Science of Female Pleasure. Movie begins at 7:00pm @New Freeway Hall 5018 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle 98118

Community: Skyway Outdoor Cinema. Pre-Show Entertainment and Prize Wheel starts at 8:00pm, A showing of The Lego Movie follows at 9:00pm @ 12610 76th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98178 (Skyway U.S. Bank Parking Lot). More Info: Facebook.com/SkywayOutdoorCinema

Music: The Westerlies CD Release Party show starts at 7:30pm@ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118.  Cost: $20 More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com

 

Saturday, August 9th

Community: Detective Cookie’s Urban Chess Club with Pro Chess Instructor H.R.Pitre. From 12:00pm – 2:00pm @ Rainier Beach Community Center: 8825 Rainier Ave South Seattle. Ages 7 and Older. More Info: 206-650-3621 (Detective Cookie)

Community: Rainier Beach Back to School Bash begins at 12:00pm @ The Plaza at Rainier and Henderson. More Info: rainierbeachneighborhood@hotmail.com

 

Sunday, August 10th

Music: Columbia City Beatwalk: The Jefferson Rose Band @ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 981178. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com.

 

If you have an event to post, please email events@southseattleemerald.com

 

 

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