Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell gets mixed reviews in first safety forum

Mar 15, 2024, 8:37 AM | Updated: Mar 18, 2024, 9:20 am

harrell safety forum...

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and SPD Chief Adrian Diaz at a public forum on March 15. (Photo courtesy of Seattle Channel's X account)

(Photo courtesy of Seattle Channel's X account)

In light of a spate of recent shootings in Seattle, Mayor Bruce Harrell proclaimed, “Too many people have too many guns,” during a city public forum Thursday night.

“I grew up in the Central District. It has changed in other parts of Seattle with the level of access to guns,” Harrell said at the gathering he hosted. “As mayor, I cannot regulate firearms. I cannot bar firearms in parks. I cannot establish an alcohol limit by which, if someone exceeds it, I can take their gun.”

More on the shooting: Woman fatally shot near Garfield High School, scene of earlier shooting

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) reported a woman was shot and killed sometime after 8 p.m. Wednesday evening in the Central District, just a few blocks from where a 17-year-old female was shot and wounded just five hours earlier. It was the third shooting of the week, two being fatal.

The latest shooting was the twelfth homicide in Seattle this year. There were 70 homicides in 2023, breaking the previous record that was set in 1994 with 69 homicides, according to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, which has homicide data dating back to 1979.

Harrell claimed officers have gotten more than 1,500 illegal guns off the street — guns were used in 80% of Seattle’s homicides, according to KIRO Newsradio — while citing that the SPD is making significant progress on several homicide cases.

“In just the last week, we have actually made five homicide arrests,” SPD Chief Adrian Diaz said at the forum. “One case was in 2023, the other four cases are from 2024.”

In a poll from people in the room, according to KING 5, 76% of people in attendance said either themselves or someone they knew had been a victim of property crime in the past two years. 61% of people reported they or someone they knew were victims of a violent crime during that same time frame.

Still, a majority of public forum participants responded to the poll saying they feel safe or somewhat safe in their homes.

“I was very inspired by today’s meeting,” Michelle Merriweather, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, told KIRO 7. “It takes all of us to create the safe community that we are all looking for and desiring that. It’s not just on them.”

Others, including KL Shannon, a resident and community organizer, expected more from Harrell and the meeting.

“We’re not addressing the root of the issues that need to be addressed or not being addressed,” Shannon told KIRO 7. “I came here to learn to see what they’re going to do. And I’m not satisfied. I’m not. I’m not happy.”

More on expanding safety: Sound Transit beefing up security after numerous violent occurrences

“This was a no-good conversation, there’s no real dialogue,” another participant at the public forum commented. “There really wasn’t any opportunity to even ask them in-depth questions.”

Last night’s safety forum was the first of six planned in the city this year. The others will be held in each of the city’s police precincts.

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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