Stine: Violent Labor Day weekend leaves Seattle eyeing most homicides in a single year
Sep 6, 2023, 7:14 AM
(Photo from @HomicideSeattle on X)
A violent Labor Day weekend resulting in six deaths within Seattle clouded the holiday festivities as the city now has 55 recorded homicides in 2023 — more than any other year since 2008, according to Seattle Police Department (SPD) statistics.
“If we look at the size of Seattle, which is about 730,000 people, it’s a miracle that the whole place just isn’t in flames all the time,” Jack Stine, co-host of The Jack and Spike Show, said on KIRO Newsradio Tuesday. “I think that people lack the contextualizing or taking a perspective on it. How many homicides would be acceptable to any population?”
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Two adults and two children were found dead Saturday in the Wallingford neighborhood after a major house fire and the homicide unit will be leading the investigation, according to SPD. Additionally, homicide detectives are investigating suspicious deaths that occurred in Rainier Valley and North Seattle.
Also recently, three people were killed and six others were wounded after a shooting in mid-August at a hookah lounge in South Seattle.
“I hear what you’re saying. There is context that we should understand. Every major city in the country is experiencing this,” KIRO Newsradio guest host Angela Poe-Russell said. “I also understand that when we look back over the many years in Seattle, we have had darker years in the 1990s. What does that mean? We don’t say, ‘we’re going in the wrong direction, we need to turn it.’ So, yes to context, but also yes to turning the ship around fast. We don’t have time.”
Homicides in Seattle increased by 7% in the first half of 2023 year-over-year, and now the city is in danger of surpassing the 69 murders that occurred in 1994, the most in a single year for Seattle, according to a study by the Council on Criminal Justice. Nine other major U.S. cities saw an increase in homicides in that same span, the organization reports: Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska; Chattanooga and Memphis, Tennessee; Chandler, Arizona; Washington, D.C.; Richmond and Virginia Beach, Virginia and New York City, according to a study by the Council on Criminal Justice. Of those cities, Seattle had the second lowest jump in crime.
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“When I first moved to Seattle, I had lived in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, and when I moved here in 2009, I thought I had arrived in heaven,” Poe-Russell said. “It was clean. I was living in downtown, and I remember everyone thinking it was a big deal. I think there were 20 that year in 2009. It was something really, really low. And we didn’t have a military state or anything like that. So I don’t think that we have to go to another extreme to turn this around, but I do think we need to be bold.”
Washington, as a whole, has seen a significant crime surge, as a new report from The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) found the state saw its most murders since 1980 in 2022, with that number increasing in each of the last three years. Police reported 384 murders last year — a 16.6% increase over 2021 and the highest number the WASPC has recorded since it began collecting data in 1980. The previous high mark was 2021’s 325 recorded murders.
“If you look at the nature of the homicides that you see in Seattle, in particular, the majority of them are homeless or gang-related,” Stine said. “And so we have a very small percentage of the population committing a disproportionate number of the violent crimes. Well, how do you fix that? It’s clearly mental health services, and it’s getting people off of the streets and all this other stuff, but the problem with that is a barrier which I like to call the Seattle City Council.”
The city council is facing a major shakeup come November, as seven council seats are on the ballot this fall, with four incumbents not seeking re-election. Forty-five candidates placed their names on ballots to take on these open spots before the August primary dwindled the candidates down to the top two in each respective race.
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“Compare (Seattle) to Venezuela, compare it to Mexico, or any of these other places where you have dozens of murders committed on a daily basis, call me a glass-half-full kind of guy,” Stine continued. “But there should be a certain amount of appreciation for the fact that we live in a society, which by every metric is a utopia compared to 95% of the rest of the planet. And because we have 50 homicides in a year, people go, ‘Oh, the system’s entirely falling apart.’ I see a system that’s actually functioning pretty well — 730,000 people and only 50 homicides in Seattle. That is a miracle. If you went back to 1860 and said that that was a thing, people would think that you were living in literal heaven. They would think that God had dissented and that you were living in heaven on Earth.”
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