After anti-gay threat, victim and police see Seattle community pull together | KUOW News and Information

After anti-gay threat, victim and police see Seattle community pull together

Feb 15, 2017

Crimes against LGBTQ people are among the most reported hate-crimes in Seattle. In the second half of 2016, 22 crimes were reported against gay, lesbian, or transgender people.

With the support of police, a gay man who was recently targeted is speaking out. His story is having a broader impact than he anticipated.

Aaron Amundsen owns a tattoo shop in Seattle's Lake City neighborhood. A letter left on his car recently said, in part, "you're days are numbered. Make America STRAIGHT again to make it GREAT again."

Amundsen said he didn't want to speak out at first, but he decided the issue was bigger than him. So he and the police department hosted a community event about it together in Lake City.

Amundsen: "With the empowerment of us getting together, it becomes much easier to say this isn't right, this is my neighborhood, this is where I live and I'm invested in it, and I'm not going to put up with it. I thought I would go to work and find a brick through my front window, instead I've gotten cookies delivered, and cards, and letters."

Officer Jim Ritter is the police department's LGBTQ liaison. He said his goal is to empower victims of hate crimes to report to police. He said Amundsen’s story grabbed the attention of other law enforcement departments, who have now reached out to learn from the SPD. Ritter welcomed them to the Lake City meeting to hear the community and police discussion.

Ritter: "We invited the Assistant U.S. attorney, the hate crimes prosecutor from King County, and we had other folks including the Mason County Sheriff. And the audience saw these government entities are embracing this now. They're not supporting in silence, they're supporting overtly."

Ritter said the increase in reported hate crimes is welcome news, because that means people feel safe talking to police.