By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
Since Donnie Chin’s slaying four months ago in the International District, there’s been little progress when it comes to getting information about the case. Why? Chin was the founder and one-man staff of the International District Emergency Center, providing patrol and emergency services in the ID.
There have been a series of meetings held with the community and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to get updates. The most recent meeting was held on Nov. 24 at the Nagomi Tea House.
And what did the community get out of it?
Just frustration, disappointment, and disbelief. That’s how many felt in the audience.
I can envision Donnie sitting in the room, sighing, and rolling his eyes (his usual expression). “What a bunch of idiots (cops)!”
Organized by Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, Seattle City Councilman Bruce Harrell, and King County Councilman Joe McDermott, the community got a canned speech from SPD at the meeting—the usual public relations approach.
What SPD has repetitively been saying is, “We are working on leads, following on leads… and can’t really say more (because) it might jeopardize the case.”
Deputy Chief Carmen Best, on behalf of Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, echoed those words again at the meeting when asked about the progress of Donnie’s case.
Simply stated: We can’t tell you anything.
It didn’t matter that it wasted more than a couple of hours of each of the approximately 70 attendees’ time.
Bob Santos, a community leader, said in another Asian Weekly article that we shouldn’t be sidetracked by other issues. SPD needs to find out who shot Donnie. It needs to be a priority.
Whether it is still a priority of SPD to solve Donnie’s murder is unknown. If SPD says it is, how can we be reassured it is?
Without answers, residents can’t forget they live in buildings in the proximity of where Donnie was shot, and perhaps some are fearful of living in the ID in general.
According to Chun Li, apartment manager for Dva Apartments (721 S. Lane St.), three families have moved out since the murder due to the fear of violence, and several families are thinking about getting out.
In the month of October, six shots were fired in the middle of the night although no one was hurt.
“Everyone in the building heard it,” Li said.
Li also said that just three weeks ago, two shots were fired in the evening.
The community has no way of finding out with a typical SPD response. Is there no progress in the investigation?
Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I like Best. The Asian Weekly even honored her at the Women of Color Empowered lunch in 2011. It is disappointing that Best came to the meeting without checking with the investigation unit first and couldn’t give us a more informative response regarding Donnie’s case. It was the No. 1 question in the mind of many in the audience.
I couldn’t just sit there—I was about to explode because SPD was ignoring the Asian community. Best’s excuse for not sharing information was that, if the media printed any information, it might alert the suspect(s).
Haven’t you heard of the term “off the record”? The Asian Weekly has cooperated with sources and the police department in the past by not printing certain facts when requested. With our community as witnesses, the police can ask for the media’s cooperation. If the Asian Weekly breaks the promise, it would affect our credibility instantly.
Rep. Santos asked, “What can you (SPD) tell us?” besides information which might hinder the investigations.
Harrell said the police could talk specifically about what has been done regarding Donnie’s case. What kind of progress has the investigation made? What kind of obstacles is the investigation running into?
Or is the investigation going back to square one? Is there anything the community can do to help?
Were there any suspects arrested so far?
Donnie’s death has disrupted the lives of many ID residents. Community members have been asking for increased police presence and reorganization of the East and West police precincts—such reorganization takes time and money. We understand that. However, the community needs to know when Donnie will get justice so that Chin’s family and the community will receive closure and move on with our lives. You would think SPD has updated the Chin family. Not even once as far as we know.
The residents are waiting. We are all waiting for that day when Donnie’s killer is revealed and arrested so we can all take a long hard breath of relief and say, “It’s over. Donnie, you can rest in peace.”
Chief O’Toole, please don’t fail us. (end)