Amid growing concerns about safety at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill, a young homeless man was severely beaten there Sunday evening.
Just days after Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced a “new emphasis on public safety” at Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park, a 21–year-old homeless man was severely beaten there Sunday evening.
The victim, whose last known address is Boise, Idaho, was listed in stable condition at Harborview Medical Center.
He was among a group of apparently homeless individuals who were arguing when one knocked another to the ground and punched and kicked him. The suspect took off after he heard sirens approaching but was later arrested and booked in King County Jail.
With an elaborate water feature, ballfields and an expansive play area, Cal Anderson Park, just east of Broadway, is a popular spot for families as well as adults. Recently, it has become a source of complaints about safety.
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Laura Stockwell, a mother of two boys and a resident of Capitol Hill, said it’s not that there are more homeless people and substance abusers frequenting the park than in years past, but that they have become more aggressive.
Homeless men sleep openly in the area of the park where children are trying to play, she said.
She said that on one occasion a woman trying to use the public bathroom was told by a woman using drugs in the bathroom to “go find a more family-friendly park.”
Stockwell said one man, obviously drunk, asked her son for a “high-five” and became obnoxious when she told him not to talk to her kid.
“The concern for me about Cal Anderson is not that there are homeless people or people doing whatever they will,” she said. “This summer, the population there buying and selling drugs seems to have this attitude that it is their park — that families don’t belong there.”
Things at the park got so bad this summer, Stockwell said, that she tweeted McGinn in July that the city needed to clean it up. “Drunks there are out of hand,” she wrote. “Where’s spd?” referring to the Seattle Police Department.
In his Friday blog, McGinn said that in addition to more park rangers, the East Precinct would dispatch additional foot and bike patrols to the park. He also said the Police Department would help connect homeless people to human-services programs.
Those using the park Saturday may have seen evidence of that increased presence. The department said it had uniformed officers patrolling the park on foot from 8 a.m. to closing. They apparently broke up a verbal disturbance, issued a liquor citation, took two people to detox and issued several liquor warnings.
Around 9:20 p.m. Sunday, officers responded to a report of an assault at the park. Witnesses identified the suspect as a 23-year-old whose last known address is listed as Traverse City, Mich.
He told police that the victim had threatened him during the argument, telling him he had a knife.
Stockwell said she hopes this particular attack highlights that there are problems at the park and that she’s “not just some naive mom.”
“Everyone wants to be safe,” she said.
She’s been collecting signatures for a petition she plans to present to the mayor at a meeting next Tuesday at Miller Community Center on Capitol Hill. She’s glad to see the city making an effort to make the park safer and said she wants to make sure any improvements are permanent.
Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or firstname.lastname@example.org