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Violence Against Seattle's LGBTQ Community Prompts Safety Plan

Capitol Hill rainbow crosswalk at 10th Ave & East Pike Street.
Flickr Photo/Gordon Werner (CC BY SA 2.0)
Capitol Hill rainbow crosswalk at 10th Ave & East Pike Street.

More rainbow crosswalks are coming to the hub of the Seattle gay community on Capitol Hill. That’s just one item in the mayor’s action plan to improve safety for LGBTQ people in the city. 

Seattle’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer task force formed last spring in response to an uptick of violent attacks aimed at this community.

Its mission is to find ways to make the city safer for gay people.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray rolled out the group’s plan Thursday. And he started with the caveat that you can’t pass laws to make people stop hating others.

Murray: “But there are things we can to change minds, to change hearts, and to protect people.”

The action plan includes some citywide efforts, like to work more with Seattle police on awareness of LGBTQ issues and to recruit more businesses where harassment victims can take shelter until police arrive.  

There have been 41 anti-gay incidents reported to SPD so far this year. That’s nearly double the number from last year. Murray’s thinks the increase is connected to recent wins for same-sex marriage.

Murray: “One of the things that we’ve seen historically is as movement is made on an issue there’s usually some sort of backlash. And it usually reflects itself in violence.”

The Capitol Hill neighborhood is a hotspot for that violence. So, the action plan puts special focus there.

The city plans to light up some dark alleys, continue some extra police patrols and, yes, add more rainbow crosswalks like the ones painted in June before pride week.

Murray: “It was a symbol of a community. It was a symbol of a neighborhood. It was a symbol of tolerance.”

Murray said there’s proof that just changing the way a street looks can, in fact, make it safer.

Photo credit: "Crosswalk at 10th Ave & E Pike St (north leg)," by Gordon Werner on Flickr(CC BY SA 2.0)

Year started with KUOW: 2006