01/18/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/17/2020 22:13
Seattle City Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2, South Seattle and CID) and King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay (District 2) will collaborate with community groups and neighbors in a community-led dialogue on public safety and proactive ways to decrease gun violence in South Seattle, following a rash of recent gun violence and Seattle Police Department data that shows an increase in shootings in South Seattle.
Morales and Zahilay will work collaboratively with community, which has expressed ongoing concerns around gun violence, public safety, and youth activities in South Seattle.
'When gun violence breaks out in our community we're all affected by it - the victims, the witnesses and the community at large. We need to understand the specific cause of each incident and we must condemn such violence,' Morales said. 'For too long, community safety has been approached largely as a criminal justice issue, without attention to the underlying causes of violence. To reduce violence, we should acknowledge the public health issue and support a community-based approach. I share the community's urgency and will join my neighbors in discussing how best to bring solutions to South Seattle,' Morales said.
'The South End is my home. I hear the concerns from my community and agree we need an urgent response,' said Zahilay. 'We have been engaging the communities most impacted and will be proposing both long-term and short-term solutions. Our team has been researching models of local policies that have been effective nationally and will also be going to Olympia to make sure our voices are heard. We will persevere.'
Recent data by the Seattle Police Department shows three of the top five neighborhoods that saw an increase in gun violence are located in South Seattle, including New Holly, Rainier Beach and North Beacon Hill.
On Thursday night, a South Seattle neighborhood reported several gunshots being fired near South Kenyon Street along Renton Avenue South, according to media reports.
Morales recently joined members of the King County Board of Health in voting for a resolution that calls on the Washington State Legislature to restore local authority to enact local firearm policies. The resolution also calls on the state to strengthen background checks, improve data collection on gun violence, and strengthen community-based efforts to prevent violence.
In 2019, the Seattle City Council approved the 2020 City Budget, which included $1 million for community-based organizations working to interrupt gun violence among our young people. Morales and Zahilay agree on the important role these programs play in addressing the harm created by the criminal justice system.