You may recall us quoting an article by the PI's Robert Jameson last week which voiced his concerns about Belltown's ever increasing crime and drug problem. Today he touched on the subject again, announcing that Mayor Greg Nickels "ignores problems as obvious as a hand slammed in a door." Who is to blame for these shootouts, beatings, and drugs in Belltown? Yuppie revelers? Drug dealers? Hostile panhandlers? People high on drugs? Gangbangers? Invisible cops? Belltowner Constance Rodman's answer is, "It's a combo. Everyone knows they can come here and get a free pass, for driving drunk, for disturbing the peace, for dealing."
I've been a little torn on the subject. I've found myself questioning whether the problems in Belltown are all that bad, and if open air drug use and aggressive homeless people are expected when living in a downtown area. My doubts were diminished when over the weekend I was enjoying a dinner near 2nd and Bell. A little girl and her Dad were skipping around playfully on the sidewalk when a man approached them with a cloth in one hand which he was "huffing" (probably paint thinner or something that has similar effects) and a can of alcohol in the other. He started aggressively mumbling jibberish to them, and fell to his knees blocking their path.
Now that's just not cool. A parent shouldn't have to worry about his kids getting confronted by people with eyes rolling in the back of their head. It was a disturbing scene. I think more police attention is definitely called for. Belltown should have the reputation of being a place where people come to experience nightlife, fine dining, art, and culture, rather than a reputation of being a dangerous "wild wild west" where anything goes.
Belltowner Katie wrote me an email today which suggested Belltown residents come together and take action towards catching Mayor Nickels attention.
"Has anyone thought about doing a "Take back our Streets" march in Belltown? Maybe if we shout loud enough and more news reporters in the area were able to see how serious residents are about getting rid of the crime in the area, Mayor Nickels might hear us. We could all wear plastic bags on our heads so we could get his attention.
I think you should use your blog to start a dialog on this.
Resident of Belltown"
The plastic bags idea is rather clever. What do you think about this idea of a march?