In a letter to the editor last week, a member of the Chinatown-International District Public Safety Task Force, Karen Yoshitomi, wrote, “What is it going to take, if not the deaths of innocent people, for our city leaders to wake up!”
She was writing in response to the June 23 meeting to update the public on the Donnie Chin murder investigation.
Police were pursuing leads, said Chief Kathleen O’Toole. But there was no word of a suspect or arrest.
It appears now that the City of Seattle and Mayor Ed Murray is waking up and taking notice. Murray issued an action plan on July 1 to address persistent public safety and disorder challenges in the Chinatown-International District (CID). The action plan reflects the recommendations of Murray’s CID Public Safety Task Force, which was convened last year after Donnie Chin’s murder.
Murray said, “I would like to thank the dozens of community members who over the last six months developed the [report]. They’ve collectively spent hundreds of hours wrangling with intractable social issues, such as the heroin epidemic and homelessness, while developing a vision of a [CID] that is vibrant, welcoming, and thriving.”
Murray went on to say, “The neglect that the Chinatown-International District feels did not occur overnight, but I am committing our City to work with the community to address these issues.”
Murray said those issues are not unique to the CID — but admits they are more acute and problematic. He said programs or initiatives are already in place or being developed for citywide application, and the CID will be among the first areas for these programs to be implemented.
Since Chin’s death, the CID community has felt a void. Arnold Mukai, Chin’s childhood friend, called Chin a “guardian angel.” He told the Northwest Asian Weekly, “His presence gave me a sense of calm. I felt he was there to serve and protect. The elderly leaned on him for his assistance and strength.”
Murray’s plan includes four key elements, including improved police communication and responsiveness.
The Seattle Police Department will increase positive police engagement and relationship-building within the community with additional and redeployed staff, improve 911 responsiveness and language capabilities, and ensure that police patrols maintain high visibility in the neighborhood.
With the first anniversary of Chin’s death fast approaching, it’s high time the City took the CID’s public safety concerns seriously. We are hopeful now that there’s a plan in place. Time will tell if that plan is executed to the CID’s satisfaction.