Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Seattle Tourist Stabbed Downtown

For nearly a year in this blog I have been writing about the deteriorating quality of life for residents in downtown Seattle.  Crime is way up, especially violent crime including assaults, stabbings, police shootings and beatings, and even murders.

This summer there have been so many stabbings in downtown Seattle that residents have turned to black humor to lessen the impact of life under such conditions.  I live here and it is grim.

Seattle just had a double murder where a man and a three-year old child were stabbed to death.

Just a few weeks ago a 69-year old man going home after work was knocked to the ground and beaten by five youths near Seattle's Space Needle.  He still is in the hospital.

Just a few days before this beating and a mere two blocks away, a man was stabbed in the back while using an ATM.

Google the words "stab" and "Seattle" and you get more than 3,000,000 results.

This past Sunday, August 21, a tourist visiting Seattle with his family was stabbed by a homeless man after a confrontation on a city bus.  The stabbing took place at the notorious Seattle intersection of Third Avenue and Pine Street in the heart of the city's shopping and hotel district, just four blocks away from Pike Place Market.  And it took place in the middle of the day when the streets around this corner are filled with tourists, shoppers, and kids.

The 38-year old homeless man who stabbed the tourist is wanted by the police in TWELVE states.

Realize all this crime is not taking place in some poor urban wasteland, a war zone neighborhood filled with poverty and decay.  Downtown Seattle from Pioneer Square to the Space Needle IS the city's urban core, filled with dozens of hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, shops, and some of the largest department stores you can imagine.  $1 million condos are common.  Rents for a one bedroom range from $1,100 to $4,500 or more per month.

Here is the intersection where this stabbing took place, Third and Pine.

This neighborhood is also home to the Washington State Convention Center where hundreds of thousands of visitors come each year to conventions and meetings.

Downtown Seattle is home to huge theaters like the Paramount, 5th Avenue, and Benaroya Hall that host millions of visitors each year for everything from music concerts to stage productions.

So when a tourist gets stabbed, especially in the middle of the day and especially in front of his family, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, at an intersection where people seem to get routinely stabbed but nothing every changes but the victim's names, people begin to notice.

Tourists may not come to Seattle based on the TRUE perception the downtown core is not safe, especially at night.  Far too many visitors to Seattle today takes home horror stories associated with their visit.  Read some of these comments left on travel boards.

When a tourist to Seattle gets murdered, which seems inevitable based on what happened this past Sunday, the downtown core will become a ghost town.  I remember the New York case of Brian Watkins, a young tourist who was murdered on a New York City Subway while going to the U.S. Open with his family in 1990.  Tourism dried up in New York for a time, and Seattle will never have the bounce back effect of Manhattan.  One senseless act of violence will cripple the city's tourist core, an area already back on its heels and suffering.

I am urging the Seattle political leadership to address an obviously dangerous and deteriorating situation.