Over the last couple years, there has been the perception that street crime, including hate crimes against LGBTQ people has been on the rise on Capitol Hill. The topic has been hotly debated with some claiming that actual crime statistics show otherwise while others have cried for a call to action after either being involved in violent interactions on the streets of Capitol Hill or familiar with situations involving friends and loved ones. In the last two weeks, a violent rape was reported and popular local entertainer Adé Connere was shoved to the ground in an altercation with homophobic young men. (For more on the Adé story, check out Adrian Ryan’s article in The Stranger.) This most recent round of violence recalls similar community concerns from last fall after drag performer Robbie Turner was involved in an altercation that also included calls for community action.
Action was taken last night, Wednesday, March 12, 2014 as about 20 concerned citizens met at Atomic Cosmetics/Dr. Jen’s House of Beauty at 617 East Pine Street at the bequest of Dr. Jen herself, Jennifer Dietrich the founding owner of the business. The group met last night to discuss and organize the formation of a new street patrol team similar to Q PATROL that existed during the 1990s following a string of violent attacks that included the 1993 murder of Seattle musician Mia Zapata. The new group would be called OUT WATCH and organizers hope to have patrol teams out on the streets of Capitol Hill by next weekend using Dr. Jen’s House of Beauty as a base. From Bryan Cohen’s report on Capitol Hill Seattle:
Dietrich said she hopes to have patrols rolled out as early as next week, using Dr. Jen’s as a home base. The plan is for members to walk Capitol Hill beats from 10 PM – 3 AM in groups of four, wear Out Watch shirts, and carry mace. Dietrich said she wants all members to receive some self defense training, but that having a public presence will be the most important deterrent to would-be criminals.
“We’re not a roaming pack of vigilantes,” she said. “It’s important that we report crimes to the police.”
The group also discussed opening a phone line and social media channels so a “dispatcher” could help direct patrol action.
What remains unclear is how this new group will be funded and organized on a continuing basis, and if volunteers will be vetted before being allowed to patrol, as well as how training for all team members will be organized to prevent potentially dangerous encounters involving team members and the public.
To date, the Seattle Police Department and the City of Seattle have failed to issue any sort of comment on the situation or the formation of a new street patrol group.
More as it develops.