Seattle’s Central District community steps up after shooting at Judkins Park

Sep 30, 2021, 12:46 PM
Judkins Park...
Judkins Park in Seattle. (Photo by TIA International Photography, courtesy of Seattle Parks and Recreation/Flickr)
(Photo by TIA International Photography, courtesy of Seattle Parks and Recreation/Flickr)

The surge in shootings in King County continued this past weekend, but one incident has pushed a local community to take action.

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“This was just an absolutely terrifying incident in the Central District on Saturday, in the middle of the day, just about [2 p.m.], I believe,” KIRO Radio’s reporter Hanna Scott said. “There was a little league team playing a youth football game at Judkins Park, packed with parents and the kids and everybody, and then there was gunfire.”

“Fortunately, nobody was hurt,” she added. “But it sounds like perhaps somebody got out of a car, fired towards the park, and then took off. I don’t know that the police have released any more than that just yet.”

Judkins Park, located in Seattle’s Central District, was packed with community members and 8- and 9-year-olds for the football game. Now, the community is taking action to protect those kids.

Omari Salisbury with Converge Media spoke to interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz.

“There’s been a call for community members, and specifically Black men, to come to Judkins Park to provide a sense of safety and well-being and value and worth for these young children,” Salisbury said to Diaz. “Community is answering that call. What do you think about something like that, where a community is like, ‘you know what, enough is enough, we’re going to come out, we’re going to stand here, we’re going to protect our kids?'”

“I think it’s fantastic,” Diaz replied. “It’s what we need. We need community to be involved in this. We know that we can’t have police officers in every part of our city at all times when violence might occur, so we are counting on community to find ways that they can step up and be present and be visible and making sure that when they see potential levels of escalation of violence that they can help say, ‘no, this can’t be here, this cannot occur in the areas of our kids.'”

It’s been said before that shots fired across the city of Seattle and King County are reaching an all-time high, as Salisbury noted again on Seattle’s Morning News. The incident at Judkins Park stood out because the CD Panthers team is an institution in the community, Salisbury explained.

“Even those who have been displaced, you’ll find out they drive up all the way from Federal Way or Des Moines there to the park,” he said. “And shots fired out there in the middle of the game, it created a sense of chaos and a sense of terror with these young people, parents, fans and supporters.”

He says the community is now saying this is too much. They’ve put calls out to people to be present, specifically asking Black men in the community to show up and reinforce a sense of safety for the kids.

Hopefully, someone is held responsible, Salisbury noted.

“We’ve been trying to get people held responsible for, since I was in high school, since back when I was there,” he said. “… Unfortunately, this issue of gun violence is something that’s become generational here in our city.”

He says that people bring the peace, and that’s been evidence when the community comes out in force such as during the Juneteenth and Black on the Block celebrations that drew thousands of people.

“So the idea is that we send a message as well to these shooters and people out there with these guns, it’s like when we’re coming out in force, it’s not OK,” Salisbury said. “Our children have value, our children have worth, and we’re gonna show up for them.”

Salisbury also noted that there are a lot of people who stand up and speak out and are “very vocal” about homeless encampments near a school, for example, even when it’s near a school that they don’t live by, and that their kids don’t attend.

“I want people to know that Judkins Park is right next to Washington Middle School,” Salisbury said. “And for people who are concerned about safety around schools and everything else, here you go. Make your voice heard.”

“We deserve safety,” he added. “… The community is going to take the steps within our power to provide safety, especially for our young people.”

While the community will be there, Salisbury says there still is a role for police as well.

“The police get our tax dollars and there’s an expectation for every citizen in this city that there there should be public safety,” he said. “So of course there’s a role, and that’s the reason why I called Chief Diaz — I’m talking to everybody.”

“I want people who are elected or appointed to be able to speak directly to my community and to tell them what they are going to do to make sure that they’re safe,” he added. “Now, it’s a big deal maybe because it’s us, the Black folks coming from the CD saying that, but this is part and parcel for the rest of the city. The rest of the city, they’re demanding answers all the time. They’re demanding, hey, what’s the plan and everything else. And so on behalf of my community members, I’ve been reaching out to anybody that I can.”

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After this shooting, the coaches of the CD Panthers were teaching the kids an evacuation plan at Judkins Park in case something like this happened again.

“Seattle, all you people out here listening in the Emerald City, think about this: 8- and 9-year-old kids out there and we’re having to learn how to evacuate the park in case there’s more shots fired, gunfire in the park,” Salisbury said. “It’s not OK, it’s not acceptable.”

“But the best thing is, is that we are taking this into our hands as community members. We’re gonna show up, we’re gonna be present for these kids,” he added.

No one, Salisbury says, is sitting on their hands.

“We’re like, man, if what we can do is be present, we’re going to be present,” he said.

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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Seattle’s Central District community steps up after shooting at Judkins Park