Some people are trying to bring back a little bit of history to Capitol Hill: a new version of the neighborhood patrol group, Q-Patrol.
The original Q-Patrol first walked the streets of Capitol Hill in 1991 as a response to gay-bashing incidents in Seattle. The group’s members were trained in self-defense.
Jennifer Dietrich, who runs Dr. Jen’s House of Beauty in Capitol Hill, is coordinating the new effort, dubbed “OutWatch.”
After two separate incidents in the neighborhood recently — a rape and an attack on a drag performer — Dietrich said, “It just kind of was the last straw for me … I can no longer sit by and hear stories every weekend of someone getting, you know, attacked or someone getting raped or some other bad thing happening on the streets.”
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The patrols will escort people to their cars or to other safe places, she said. Some people will also have cars to “round up” performers after shows to give them rides, she added.
Patrols will go out from about 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., Thursday through Saturday in three-hour shifts.
Dietrich held an informational meeting earlier this month at her Capitol Hill store. Around 20 people attended. She said the plan is for patrol members to go out in groups of four. Two people in each group will either have had self-defense training in the last six months or be self-defense instructors before everyone gets self-defense training.
“Whoever lives and works up here should be able to get from point A to point B without being afraid or without being attacked,” Dietrich said. “So this is just kind of my way of trying to make that happen.”
Although Dietrich points to specific attacks that have occurred recently, crime reports from four police beats that cover Capitol Hill and parts of Portage Bay and First Hill show only a small increase in the number of violent crimes from January to November last year compared with the same time period in 2012.
Burlesque performer Tori McDonough, 23, showed up at the recent OutWatch meeting and said she performs a lot around Capitol Hill.
“I don’t like not feeling safe walking to my car,” McDonough said. “That really doesn’t sit right with me, especially because I love Capitol Hill. It’s where the weird people go, and the fact that it’s becoming someplace that isn’t necessarily safe for the weird people isn’t something that’s OK with me.”
Dietrich said the group’s purpose is not to be vigilantes, but instead be a presence and help keep people safe.
“Nobody’s going out to, like, crack heads or anything,” she said.
Information from The Seattle Times archive was used for this article.
Safiya Merchant: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-2299