Victoria Beach, a lifelong resident of Capitol Hill, as well as chair of the Seattle Police Department African American Community Advisory Council, told KOMO News that she traces the increase in shootings back to the 2020 riots when six square blocks of the neighborhood were abandoned by city officials and turned over to Antifa and BLM rioters and became the infamous Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ).
Six people were shot in the autonomous zone and two of them were killed, both were black teens. According to the SPD at the time, rapes, robberies, and murders spiked 250 percent. Earlier this year, Seattle settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit with business owners who claimed CHAZ violated their constitutional rights and caused damage to their property. Families of the victims have also been successful in suing the city.
Beach told the outlet she believes that some criminals even almost three years later, still view the neighborhood as a lawless area where crime is tolerated or ignored. “It’s a huge heartache. I think about my parents, my grandparents, their minds would be blown over this.”
According to the Seattle Police’s Crime Dashboard, since the beginning of 2023, there have been six cases of shots fired calls, non-fatal shootings, or fatal shootings in Capitol Hill, compared to five cases in all of 2022.
Additionally, the total represents more cases than all of 2019, 2020, and 2021 combined.
According to a yearly crime report released by the Seattle Police Dept., Seattle’s violent crime rate reached a 15-year high in 2022, surpassing the record set in 2021.
Violent crime increased by four percent compared to 2021, which was the previous all-time high in reported crimes. Totals in 2022 surpassed the 2021 record with 49,577 violent and property crimes. Additionally, the department reported that aggravated assault and motor vehicle thefts were “significantly” high in 2022 compared to the five-year weighted average.
52 homicides were investigated in 2022, an increase from 41 homicides in 2021, the second-highest total homicides after 53 homicides were reported in 2020.
Over 600 officers have left the department since the city council defunded the police in response to the riots in 2020. Some officers were terminated, while others transferred or retired in response to the city’s COVID vaccine mandate.
The lack of officers has been so devastating that cases that are supposed to be handled by the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit are not getting assigned because of staffing shortages and 911 response times have dramatically increased.
Additionally, the spike in crime has been blamed on the Democratic-controlled Washington State Legislature passing laws in 2021 restricting how law enforcement responds to an incident, including a change that affects how officers pursue after a suspect who is fleeing in a vehicle.
This is magnified by the ongoing revolving-door justice system in the city and King County that releases prolific offenders with dozens of felony convictions.
In 2022, The Post Millennial revealed that Seattle firefighters have increasingly become the “victims of violent and dangerous” attacks.
In the most recent shooting, a community activist was shot to death Saturday while driving with his nine-year-old nephew to a monster truck show to celebrate the boy’s birthday. The boy was also shot but has since been released from the hospital.