SEATTLE — Business owners and residents gathered in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood to discuss public safety.
Politicians and police answered their questions at events organised by the Taproot Theatre Company.
“I think the most important thing tonight is to listen. It’s about why this problem exists, why it’s taking so long to deal with it and how we can deal with it safely,” said event organizer and Taproot Theatre employee Karen Lund.
Monday’s event, billed as a public meeting, drew large crowds, but at the last minute, media cameras were not allowed in and the media were asked to leave the theater.The media blackout lasted 48 minutes, at which time journalists were allowed to listen, but not to record until the end of the meeting at 7:30 pm
Inside the town hall, Lt. Seattle Police Department (SPD), Seattle City Council Member Dan Strauss, Rep. Noel Frame, and representatives from the Low Income Housing Institute answer questions and hear their concerns .
One by one, residents have raised concerns about what the area is technically considered “petty crime”. This includes litter on sidewalks, tents on public property and what they say is rampant drug use in public spaces.
“I think a lot of people are saying the same thing. We want answers from the public eye, and we’re just in circles,” said Sheri Young, mother of a 3-year-old boy. “They’re prioritizing the homeless who take over our parks, not the children.”
Rob Pickering owns Snapdoodle Toys in Greenwood.
“They’re smoking fentanyl every day, in the toy store and on the three sides of the Bartels, and the police won’t come out unless there’s a gun or an attack,” he said.
There is no one solution to these complaints. Councilman Strauss pointed to the work of the city’s unified care team — which conducts outreach and helps clean up homeless camps.
“It’s hard to say in two minutes ‘every week I’m calling all the departments involved in this issue,'” Strauss said.
Strauss said he needs actionable information from residents so he can make an impact.
“That’s what started here, obviously not fast enough, and it will continue until we address the safety issues that arise in this community,” he said.
The SPD data does show an overall monthly increase in violent crime in the Greenwood community in 2022 compared to 2021. January is the only exception.