King County community ‘up in arms’ over recent spike in gun violence

Oct 5, 2020, 11:43 AM
gun violence...
Crime scene at Atlantic City boat ramp. (Photo courtesy of Seattle Police Department)
(Photo courtesy of Seattle Police Department)

King County had already seen a significant increase in gun violence at the halfway mark of 2020. It’s only gotten worse, especially in communities of color such as Rainier Beach, where the chaos from two separate shootings on Friday left two people dead, eight injured.

Friday’s shooting started around [4 p.m.], when more than 70 rounds were fired near South Norfolk Street and 59th Avenue South near Emerson Elementary School,” KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott said. “… Seattle police say a woman was grazed, four others later showed up at the hospital with gunshot wounds. A few hours after that, just about a mile away, more gunfire near the Atlantic City boat ramp off Seward Park Avenue South. One man was killed in that shooting, and then a hit and run driver, who SPD says was speeding away from that shooting scene, hit and killed a pedestrian near Rainer Avenue South and Martin Luther King South, and that person died.”

“Later, two other people hit by gunfire in that shooting also showed up at the hospital,” she added. “This doesn’t include a weekend shooting that happened in Bellevue or another at Utah and Holgate in the SoDo area last night.”

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In the first half of 2020, King County has seen a 21% spike in shots fired, Hanna Scott reports, in shootings that are disproportionately impacting communities of color and are now leading to renewed calls for action.

“[The community has] just seen an incredible spike in gunshots, in homicides, and everything else,” Converge Media’s Omari Salisbury told Seattle’s Morning News. “The community is up in arms, as you can imagine, you know, no community wants shootouts where you have 70 bullets over by an elementary school. It’s a lot right now.”

There are a lot of people, Salisbury said, trying to get to the bottom of these shootings in order to figure out how to prevent them.

“What we’re really trying to do is get to the deeper root causes as to why these young people are picking up these guns and shooting at each other in the streets of Seattle,” he said.

He added that he’ll be the first one to say that he’s not blaming guns, also noting that gun violence is up everywhere, not just locally, and not just in King County.

“These are young people, for the most part, that are out here picking up these guns, that are out here shooting each other,” he said. “Now there’s a litany of different things, … there’s an undercurrent of things that have been going on for decades when we talk about systemically, lack of opportunity, jobs, all these kind of things. And then on top of that, now we’re layering on COVID. On top of that we’re layering on an economic recession in our community.”

The important thing, Salisbury reiterated, is for the community to get to the root of the problem.

“What we talk about is upstream,” he said. “How can we reach young people before they even go down that path toward a gang or toward a gun? That’s really dealing with this issue right now but also looking upstream so we can try to prevent this.”

Unfortunately, this is not a new conversation or a new problem for the communities it’s impacting.

“I was on your show July 24, saying the exact same thing,” Salisbury recalled. “… What we’re trying to do right now is bring heads in our community, police, everybody to the table so we could try to find some solutions around this.”

Salisbury says he wants the police to be able to work with experts in the community hand in hand to be able to curb this violence.

“I’m smart enough to know what I don’t know,” he said. “And that’s why I’m reaching out to community members, I’m reaching out to the police, reaching out to Chief Diaz, reaching out to people like Sean Goode, Choose 180, Community Passageways. [I want to] bring everybody together in one place, and let’s try to figure out some solutions around us because we can’t just be like, ‘Oh, our hearts go out,’ and move on, ‘our hearts go out,’ and move on. That’s not going to solve anything,”

There have been a lot of words about gun violence, he added, but not a lot of action.

“Everybody wants to point a finger on everybody else. Let’s point the finger towards ourselves, especially in the community, and figure out what we can do,” he said.

“I’m not looking for government for the answers. I’m not looking to ban guns for the answer. I’m looking for community. What can we do?,” he continued. “And of course, everything else has its role. Government has a role, agencies have their role, but also community has its role. So I want be able to rally everybody around this and say, like, ‘Hey, man, let’s all step up.’ Let’s not push this responsibility off to the next person. Let’s not just push it to police or push it to government or push it to this. How can collectively all of us come together on this issue?”

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This issue is impacting the entire city, Salisbury said, not just Rainier Beach, and not just the south end.

Converge Media is hosting a town hall and gun violence round table Thursday with interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz. Community members, victims, victim advocates, members of the Seattle Police Department, and various community groups that work on gun violence issues or work with youth, as well as parent groups will be coming together.

Watch the town hall on all Converge Media platforms, including social media, from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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King County community ‘up in arms’ over recent spike in gun violence