I hope this letter to the editor will shine a light for our City representatives on the desperate need for greater safety in our Chinatown-International District community. As someone who lives and works in this neighborhood, the safety of both my person and my property are threatened on a regular basis. I do not have time to report every incident to the police, but last Friday morning I was really shaken up so I decided to take the 10+ minutes necessary to wait on hold on the Seattle Police Department non-emergency line in order to speak with a sympathetic staff member who sent an officer.
At about 9:00 a.m. as I was waiting at the crosswalk on the SE corner of the 5th Avenue S and S Jackson Street intersection, a woman lunged violently at me, screaming, “Get the f**k out of here, c**t!” and called me a “ch*nk” and a number of other racial slurs. This woman frequently loiters at intersections and sidewalks along 5th Avenue S and S Jackson Street, and appears to be experiencing homelessness, untreated mental illness, and/or drug addiction. This was deeply upsetting and I was late to work.
After this incident, I am committed to reporting crimes and safety violations in our community. I did not report all of them previously because, as is the case for many residents of this neighborhood, I get a sense of apathy from the City, and sometimes feel resigned to these conditions. Our community houses a number of elders with limited English language proficiency, which also acts as a barrier for incident reporting. Below are some other incidents which I have personally witnessed:
• Public urination, defecation, nudity, and possibly masturbation. A pile of human diarrhea on the sidewalk outside of my apartment and a restaurant.
• Hungry people digging through the dumpsters outside of apartment buildings and local businesses, leaving litter overflowing into the alleys. This occurs every day, at all hours.
• In December, someone shattered my driver-side car window, popped the hood, and stole my brand-new car battery. I was told this was likely done to provide heat for one of the many tents that are popping up like dandelions along our sidewalks. There are no safe overnight parking options in this neighborhood. I now leave my car at my parents’ house and bus 60 minutes to pick it up anytime I wish to use it, which is both personally and professionally limiting.
• A man testing car handles in the InterIm CDA lot under the I-5 overpass in an attempt to break in.
• At least once a week walking the streets of the ID during daylight hours: pan-handling, public inebriation, and broken glass from alcohol bottles on the street, cat-calling and unwelcome sexual advances, intimidation, loitering, and public nudity.
Chronic, systemic issues that city leadership will take years to resolve do not address critical and immediate public safety needs. Without greater resource allocation from the city now (not in 5 years), the residents of the Chinatown-International District will continue to be home-bound as soon as the sun sets, be verbally, physically, and sexually harassed, and experience trepidation doing simple daily tasks like walking to work or to the parking lot. I love this community and would hate to feel pressured to find housing elsewhere due to continuing threats to my safety.
I hope the public servants whose campaigns we supported will remember their duty to in turn support us. Our community is hurting and desperately needs immediate, drastic help.
International District resident
The International Examiner would like to hear more opinions on public safety. Please send a letter to the editor to [email protected] with the subject, “Letter to the Editor.”