Neighbors, Police March Together For Safe Streets In Rainier Beach

A huge crowd of about 200 south Seattle residents snaked up and down Rainier Avenue Monday night chanting “What do we want? Safe streets! When do we want ‘em? Now!”

Following a series of violent incidents in and around the Rainier Beach neighborhood, Seattle Police Department’s South Precinct  Lt. John Hayes began working with neighbors to organize community walks through south Seattle. 

Residents from neighborhoods like Holly Park, Rainier Beach and Mount Baker have come together with South Precinct officers nearly every other week since December to make their presence known on the streets of south Seattle. On the walks, neighbors and officers look for and document dead streetlights, broken glass, potholes, overgrown bushes and other issues which need to be repaired, so that criminals know neighborhood residents have their eyes on the streets.

Before Monday night’s trek through Rainier Beach, neighbors gathered in the parking lot of a Safeway—the scene of a recent shooting—where Lt. Hayes told the crowd “We’re here to let everyone else that thought they could break down our spirits in our community know…they’re going to hear from us.”

Previous south Seattle walks have drawn dozens of neighborhood residents. This week was different, and it was clear from the nearly 200 people who came out for Monday night’s walk that Rainier Beach residents are ready for their voices to be heard in Rainier Beach.

“A lot more people care about what’s going on in Rainier Beach than I thought,” said Rainier Beach High School cheerleading coach Talonya Green, who attended the anti-crime walk with a number of other students and faculty from Rainier Beach

As neighbors—joined by SPD Deputy Chief Nick Metz, Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith, City Council Member Bruce Harrell, City Attorney Pete Holmes, and a number of Seattle police officers—marched through Rainier Beach—a man emerged from his apartment, stood out on his balcony and shouted down at the group. “What are you protesting?” the man asked.

Rod, a lifelong Rainier Beach resident, yelled back “crime in the area.”  Rod, who said he’s tired of his neighborhood’s “bad stigma,” said he came to the march to let troublemakers in the area know that “crime will not be tolerated in our community. We’re taking a stand. It’s not going down any longer.”

Another Rainier Beach resident, Chris—who was carrying his young son Cyrus on his shoulders for much of the walk—said his family has seen “a little more crime than we would like” since moving to south Seattle, but that the huge turnout for the anti-crime walk gives him “hope” for the neighborhood. “We love our neighborhood and we want to make sure it’s safe for our kids,” Chris said.

After winding through the neighborhood, documenting cracks in the sidewalk, broken glass on the streets, and dead streetlights, neighbors once again gathered back the parking lot of the Safeway with Lt. Hayes and other members of the Seattle Police Department.

Lt. Hayes talked to the crowd about violence in the South Precinct, and encouraged neighbors to work together and to report suspicious behavior to police, and help put an end to violence in Rainier Beach. “We are going to put an end to it,” he said. “We are going to stop it.”

“South Seattle, it’s a safe place, it’s a great community [and] people care about each other,” Hayes said Monday night. “They looked around and found out they aren’t alone when it comes to addressing issues in our community.”