Hate crimes are up in Seattle despite the increasing efforts of Seattle Police to fight them.
Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle are hotspots for crime that involves hatred of targeted groups of people, according to Seattle Police.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are the most frequent victims of what police call “malicious harassment.” Black people are the second most targeted group.
Citywide in the first half of 2014, police have received reports of about 10 hate crimes a month--up slightly from the average of nine a month over the previous 18 months.
According to Seattle Police Department crime statistics, many types of crime are down in the city, but not hate crimes.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said police are “saturating” Capitol Hill with extra patrols.
“We’ve really stepped up our emphasis patrols there, and we’re not giving up,” she said. “We’re going to stay there until we’re convinced that we’ve made a difference,” she said. “I’m hoping that we’ll be able to maintain higher levels of visibility, not just on Capitol Hill, but throughout the city.”
“It is not safe on the hill after dark,” Shaun Knittel of the LGBT advocacy group Social Outreach Seattle told the Seattle City Council Monday.
“Cal Anderson Park, Broadway, Pike, Pine – they walk around and harass people and shove people, in large groups,” Knittel said.
Knittel, who also edits Seattle Gay News, said the criminals on Capitol Hill are becoming more brazen.
“The people who live and work on the hill know who these guys are,” he said. “It seems strange to us that they remain a mystery to the department.”
“What I see," Seattle Police Lt. Michael Kebba told the council, "is predominantly people being targeted late at night, people being followed into dark alley ways, people being confronted by individuals with intolerance.”
He said Seattle Police take every report of harassment seriously – even non-criminal verbal harassment that is protected by the First Amendment.
"I see in a lot of these reports where victims are not able to give us suspect information because they're too inebriated,” Kebba said. “It's difficult to bring a case forward or identify those responsible for crimes when you're incapacitated."
On Friday night, a 28-year-old man was denied entry into “R Place,” a popular night club on Capitol Hill. He was arrested after reportedly threatening to kill “all gay people” and “all white people” and pantomiming that he had a gun.
Kebba recommends people going to night clubs stay vigilant and walk in groups with a “designated observer.”
That person stays sober, not so they can drive, but so they can accurately describe any attackers to police.