Community Post

23rd & Union SPD Drop-in Center

Greetings Block Watch Captains and 23rd & Union Neighbors,

The 23rd & Union SPD Drop-in Center is just about complete; all we need is a little bit of community support from your Block Watch groups. There are two ways in which community members can support and contribute to this project:

1. Participating in a neighborhood clean-up for the drop in center.
The space is ready to go, it just needs to be made user friendly! We will get together for a couple of hours to do a clean-up in and around the drop in center. This will entail trash pick-up, vacuuming, sweeping, cleaning the bathroom, dusting and moving around some furniture and equipment. As soon as this has happened, the Drop-in
Center will be up an running. Saturday March 8th or Saturday March 22nd are two possible options. Please let me know if either of these dates work for you and your Block Watch groups, or if you would like to plan for a different date. It doesn’t have to be on a Saturday, I just thought that Saturdays may be convenient for people. Sundays are not the best option, because Officer Greeley isn’t available; however, the important thing is that the date works best for neighbors.

2. Donating either money or items from the “items we need” list below that are in good condition and only gently used if used at all. Any donation to this project will count as a charitable contribution; Seattle Neighborhood Group (SNG) will provide anyone who donates with a letter of charitable contribution for tax deduction. The money we
collect will go towards basic maintenance of the Drop-in Center and towards needed supplies that are not collected through donation. Donations can be brought to the SNG office (address is below) anytime Monday through Friday between the hours of 10am and 2pm. If you need to schedule either a different time to drop off your donation or if you
need to schedule for someone to pick up your donation, please contact me to set that up (sita@sngi.org or 322.9330). You can also mail a donation to:

Sarah Smith
Seattle Neighborhood Group
1810 E Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98122-5748

If you mail in a donation, please make sure to include your name, address, phone # and that the money is for the 23rd & Union Drop-in Center. This will ensure our ability to provide you with letter of charitable contribution. If you are thinking of donating an item, please check with me first to make sure nobody else has already donated
that item!

Items We Need:
Coffee Maker
Refrigerator
Microwave
Vacuum
Computer w/ internet hook up
Round table
Six chairs (without armrests is preferred)
Cleaning Supplies

Please pass this information along to your block watch groups and neighbors and get back to me regarding a good date to do the clean-up.
Thank you for your support.

Kindest Regards,

Sita DeGiulio Das
East Program Coordinator
Seattle Neighborhood Group
206.323.9666 (Main Line)
206.322.9330 (Direct Line)

0 thoughts on “23rd & Union SPD Drop-in Center

  1. Is this the previously mentioned “Cop Shop” in the old pharmacy location?

    And can we get some details about how the location is going to be used? It seems like there’s a lot of context missing from this that might be confusing to people who haven’t been involved in the issue so far.

  2. Yes, this has been called a “cop shop” and a mini-precinct and various other names. Our original working names for it when a neighbor and I started this effort last October included “police outpost,” but Drop-In Center is much better. At that time our idea was that it could be used by the SPD for breaks and paperwork and whatever else would be useful while staying close to a neighborhood that was becoming increasingly troubled. With support from local residents and the generosity of the owners of MidTown Commons, it is actually happening. Officer Greeley was our chief SPD contact during this time.

  3. only white people like cops? are black people in the CD really that sheltered and alienated? why is it every time people try and better the community (like this Cop Shop) someone always throws up the stupid white vs. black card? that excuse is really getting tired. are you suggesting to let the crime wave continue around that corner just so you can be left alone? police don’t love to arrest black people, they love to arrest criminals – it’s their job!

    “a rose is a rose is a rose…” so what if most the drug dealers on that corner are black, they’re still drug dealers! their asses need to be beat down and thrown in jail.

    and before you accuse me of being some out-of-touch white person, let me just say i’m neither white nor black (although i am a person of color) and hail from nyc where i’ve seen cops come down way harder on many races, not just black people. i totally WELCOME police in my neighborhood…especially if it means less criminal a–holes in my area.

  4. is there more info. about this cop shop posted anywhere? how will it be managed? how many, how often and how long do we expect officers to be in there? is it just for SPD or will it also host other groups like the neighborhood watchgroup? will someone always be there or have to monitor it…as i assume it would be an easy target for vandalism and such. i like the idea and would support it (if the terms were right) but would first like more details before donating resources to this place.

  5. This black white thing about cops is absurd. The black middle class who own much of the CD support and work with the police and neighbors of all races. “Miss Brown” does not speak for the African Americans in the CD only raciest criminals

  6. My understanding is that our drop-in center is like the East Yesler Crime Prevention Center (is this right?). The idea is that providing the police with a nice place to do paperwork, take a break, or make some phone calls will increase police traffic in our area. Police are not, thus, patrolling the area or surveiling the neighborhood from the drop-in center. I expect no one wants a police state and all of us should be concerned about targetted police harassment. But the drop-in center is a far cry from that. It’s simply a new neighbor or business whose clientele just happens to be police officers.

    In any case, here’s an older article about it:
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2004157494_copstop01m.html

  7. I am so happy to see some concrete action by police and the community on this issue taking place! It gives me hope that I am not the only one who wants these drugs dealers out of our neighborhood!

  8. I wish white people and whitewashed people alike would stop getting their panties in a bunch every time they are asked to consider the opinions of people who experience racism. This “black white thing about cops” may be absurd to some people, but know that it is very real for many other people. If you respected and listened to black men and women you would know the police seldom bring solutions to black communities and usually create more problems. If you took the time to understand the impact of racism in this country and the history of the community you now live in maybe your analysis would be different. If you ever took the time to learn the history of the criminal justice system in this country you would not say such calloused statements about absurdity. Because you would know that things have not really changed. And you would know the police are very much a part of the institutional racism that creates and then pretends to solve social problems like crime. Perhaps you are just defensive because you do know this history and are feeling slightly guilty and overwhelmed. Who knows.

    Every time someone points out the problems with racism in America some whitewashed person immediately says it ain’t so. That is what is absurd. It is both patronizing and oppressive to say distrust of police equates to being sheltered or alienated. MissBrown is obviously not speaking for the “raciest” criminals, as LongTermResident suggests. Nor is she speaking for the racist criminals. I guess I wouldn’t expect critical reading from someone who can’t even spell the word racist so perhaps it is a moot point. Do you even know who the racist criminals are? If not, you can stop by the new SPD Pharmacy and meet some of them to make it official.

    The cops who will occupy the pharmacy are not new neighbors nor are they a business. New neighbors actually live here. Businesses are open to make money. This new amenity is nothing but a political move to shut some of you new residents up and recruit a bunch of neighborhood snitches. And the cops get some chairs and coffee out of the deal. Crime reduction is not the goal here. Please be honest. The cops have been actively posted in the CD for decades. They have been arresting drug dealers. They have also been obsessively stalking young black men regardless of criminal activity. The jail system has been locking criminals and innocent people up for decades. How are things any better? Do people really think the police offer solutions that are effective? The “criminals” of interest in this matter may be doing things that are very destructive to the community. I don’t hear anyone endorsing the criminal activity. The point is that the police are also doing things that are very destructive to the community.

    Why aren’t you talking about real solutions to the crime you are supposedly worried about? My suspicion is that it is easier for you to say “end crime” instead of “get rid of black people that are not middle class”. But that is really what is being said. If you are not demanding racial justice in our school system you are not talking about ending crime. If you are not demanding racial justice in the legal system you are not talking about ending crime. If you are not demanding racial justice in an economy that is based on slavery and exploitation you are not talking about ending crime. If you are not demanding racial justice in your gentrified neighborhood you are not talking about ending crime. In other words, you are not talking about ending crime.

  9. Seems like we already know at least one of the non-police answers:

    http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/2008/02/21/gots-to-help

    SNGI rocks. They could sure use some help.

  10. All this will do is move some of the problems to Cherry where they use to be. It just shifts the problem somewhere else. Do we really want to be a neighborhood that has to have a police base at the entrance to our community? I don’t think so. Instead, we simply need more frequent visits from the police and not just driving by in their car staring around. Bike patrols, walking….getting to know the community members.

    After reading many of these posts, it might help folks to take a step back and try to understand where folks are coming from…you don’t have to agree….but other people have different perceptions (wrong or right) and experiences with the police. Quit judging.

    We should be focusing on what we can do for that poor family that lost a father today in the MLK auto accident.

  11. As far as critical reading goes, the drop-in center is *like* a neighbor or business. Let me make the analogy more explicit: the space is privately owned and the landlord, whose previous tenant was the Chesterfield Pharmacy, will now have drop by police officers as tenants. Oh, and many if not most business owners don’t live in the neighborhoods in which their businesses are.

    Secondly, police harassment is a problem, as is the cracking-down-on-crime-solves-everything attitude. But so is the cops-versus-us attitude. Everyone, including black folk, deserves to be able to walk down the street and not get solicited for prostitution. Everyone, including black folk, deserves to have their kids use the 48 and 2 bus stops and not watch a drug transaction. And everyone deserves to go to their place of business and not get murdered. If increasing police traffic at 23rd and Union will reduce the crime that has increased in recent years, then that is a reason (albeit not an indefeasible one) to have the drop-in center.

    Moreover, social programs can’t work without enforcement. A person shouldn’t be expected to go to his or her job and life skills class if getting there requires walking through a rival’s turf. Nor should a person be expected to successfully overcome an addiction if the dealers are still on the doorstep. Should we thus have job and life skills classes available in more places? Yes. Should we have better, more accessible treatment programs? Yes. But it also means that until we do, we need enforcement. I agree that it can’t just be police driving by and staring around, but enforcement that community members can interact with so that stereotypes on both sides can be broken. This again speaks for, not against, the drop-in center.

    Lastly, the SPD is currently going through a huge hiring. If we want to get rid of the bad cops, then perhaps we need some good people to fill these openings. Change neither happens only from the top down nor from the bottom up.

  12. Reading through all these threads has me sad and dismayed.

    I did not come here thinking it was utopia. I did not come here to live solely among people like me. I came here knowing there were problems but excited about the opportunity to move in a positive direction with every member of the community.

    Reading this makes me want to pull stakes and move to (insert snore) Ballard. They may be bland and boring, but they are respectful, they listen and they provide ideas on how to change things when needed. Read: IDEAS. Not critiques on why something won’t work before we have even tried. Not condemnations of every young person walking the street. Positive ideas on how to improve the community–things we can do that tangibly make a difference like help a young person stay away from drugs and gangs or bring businesses to the community. I didn’t create “gentrification” and I cannot stop it, whatever “IT” is.

    This has devolved into a game of name calling and a series of personal attacks that divide us more and keep us from our goal–a healthy, vibrant and safe community. There is no defintion of this goal that is divided by race or class.

    I do not think the police storefront is a panacea, but I do not see the evidence to suggest it will hurt more than it helps. Nobody on this board supports police harrassment, but nobody on this board is the harrasser and all we can do is continue to ask our elected officials to hold police accountable. But the police must be treated with respect and not presumed guilty.

    I certainly understand the frustration of african americans in the community, particularly with regard to the history bewteen the community and SPD. Yet, we cannot punish the sons for the sins of the father, we can only try to guide the son to the right path.

    I would challenge everybody to put forward one idea, one tangible or workable idea to better the community before they type a letter in haste or in anger.

  13. Thanks Elvis — I’m definitely on board with the tangible idea idea. I found many of the preceding posts helpful, however, because they presented viewpoints I’m not as familiar with. Knowing what folks are thinking helps me get a sense of which tangible ideas make the most sense, or what kinds of conversations are needed in order to get something rolling. Of course, I can see how folks who’ve lived here for a while may already know this stuff and may have heard it all before. Not me, not in this form anyway.

    That said, I’d like to take a shot at responding to the following argument to see what I might be overlooking and to suggest a tangible idea.

    Oodlesofohs said: “A cop shop does not provide enforcement that community members can interact with in order to break stereotypes…. If police want to interact with the entire community in a respectful way they will do just that…. Giving them a space to hang out in and drink coffee does little to improve community relationships or break down stereotypes.”

    Thoughts: I agree with your first two sentences, a cop stop neither guarantees nor is necessary for better community relations. So let’s move to the third. I agree with your point that there are stereotypes worth breaking and that sitting inside a room drinking coffee won’t help. So what would help? My guess is that respectful interactions outside the shop would help. Would they?

    If increasing the number of mutually respectful interactions is a worthwhile goal, there are tangible things that can be done to make it more likely to happen.

  14. Its interesting.. I have been living in the CD for 18 years. Longer than alot of these individuals who are being harrassed/dealing dope/going to school/ caring for their grandma/ drinking in public…etc you get the picture. Yet some how it’s still not “my” neighborhood. I am so damn tired of this arguement. Fo god’s sake its a free market economy. I bought a house on a carpenters wage. I never cared who I was going to live next to be they white, black, gay, christian or even republican. I just wanted them to be nice. We don’t have to be best friends but its more fun that way. I guess if I have to choose between police and criminals I choose the police. They seem a little more predictable to me. I now I don’t have to worry about harrassment I’m overwieght, over 40 and I don’t wear clothing that would ever get me profiled.
    I have never got the reason this neighborhood had to be mine or yours. Why can’t it be ours. BTW where are all the jewish folks who used to have half a dozen synagogues in this neighborhood. Why don’t they get upset about this??
    Gentrification has become an ugly word around here. its nothing more than economics. I never came here to make anyone leave. I just went and bought the only run down house I could afford. Funny enough the seller was white. Now I’m just starting to ramble. I’ve heard all this before ever since I moved here. Nothing seems to change. this is a great place for the dialogue though.

  15. I live less than a block away from the ‘cop shop’ and have lived here for three years now. I guess you can put me down as one person who IS in support of this.

    I won’t deny that police officers profile, but I think the arguments would be stronger if concrete examples were thrown out for that behavior in the CD area recently. I know that on any single day I can watch drug deals going down in front of the post office. I don’t consider this ok, I’d dare say that the majority of the people in the neighborhood don’t find this ok.

    Maybe a cop shop will help, maybe it won’t, but it’s worth a try. I’m also perfectly eager to try to reduce the racial tensions that obviously exist, but it’s hard when you come into the discussion with guns a’ banging.

    What are your concrete suggestions? It’s easy to tear things down, it’s harder to come up with better ideas, and hardest of all to actually implement them. This particular idea is at least at the final stage, so we can all find how it plays out.

  16. It seems as though people are confusing the issues – when perhaps they are better dealt with separately. One on hand, there is an open-air drug market currently operating at 23rd and Union that creates both violent and property crime. On the other hand, there is unfair treatment of the native Black population by the SPD. Both issues are very real. Only by separating the issues can we give each side it’s due. (Above I kept seeing people dismiss the other side off-hand. That’s bullsh**t – both are very real issues. There are countless stories about drugs, gangs, and the recent murder at 23rd and Union. If you doubt the SPD issue, see the story: http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/2008/02/28/obstruction-charges)

    Ironically, the cop shop is an attempt to deal with the first issue- which affects everyone in the neighborhood, regardless of color. Actually you might even argue the crime surrounding the drug market actually affects the black community even more. Yes, the white neighbors might be complaining more about it. But who gets mugged more, who gets arrested more, and who was just murdered?

    Admittedly a police presence isn’t my first choice for dealing with the drug problem. Enforcement alone is like wack-a-mole…it will just shift the problem elsewhere. It’s a NIMBY attitude that doesn’t actually solve the underlying problems of drug addiction, unemployment, and education. But if you can organize as a neighborhood for increased police presence, then why can’t you also organize in support of addiction treatment, job training centers, and better schools. I don’t think we should stop all the other efforts. But I think we owe it to ourselves and to our community to pursue a comprehensive solution so we don’t just waste resources passing the problem around from neighborhood to neighborhood.

    Lastly- I think we need to give some members of the SPD their due. Lt. Hayes has been exemplary. He was instrumental in founding the Get Off The Streets program. Sick and tired of the revolving door problem with arresting addicts he actually tried to do something about it. See the full story to learn more: http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/2008/02/21/gots-to-help

    We should be encouraging this kind of collaboration with the police. It’s exactly the trust building exercise that will help address the long standing mistrust because of institutional racism. Both problems are very real and maybe GOTS is the solution to both.

  17. wait a minute! the jewish people made the decision to leave this neighborhood.

    and they had the resources to do it.

    maybe the jewish people are not worried about what they lost in the central because they were never excluded from living anywhere else in this city.

    unlike black people.

    because when the neighborhood became more black the jewish people cut out.

    it was their choice and it was based on their own racism, or as you might say economics.

    that’s why they are not worried. they took their party somewhere else.

    gentrification should be an ugly word. unless you think it means something else.

    remember when the city segregated it’s residents?

    the white residents supported this.

    for several decades the non white neighborhoods were either exploited or neglected economically.

    but now somehow the black residents should have enough upward mobility to keep up with whatever the white guy decides he wants to do with the neighborhood?

    are you sayin it’s okay to displace people who call the CD home because they are not at the same economic level as the white people who buy these houses? remember white people have a part in the conditions that created this unfair economic system.

  18. if you need some concrete examples try talking with black people. they won’t hurt you. but know that it is also hard to talk with people who say things like you come into the discussion with guns a’ banging

    concrete suggestions:
    donate some of your financial resources to the people the neighborhood seems so bothered by.
    or donate some of your financial resources to some of the organizations in the neighborhood that are run by those people instead of the ones that are run “for” them.
    step back and stop being so dang white about everything
    do some research together or alone to understand the different perspectives in here
    slow your roll and accept that you don’t always get what you want in life exactly when you want it…

  19. Cop Shop is not what our community needs, we simply need better officers more engaged. I have a friend who was married to a an officer, and I was told many new recruits were excited to come work in the CD “where the action is” and to bust some heads. We don’t need those kinds of officers, and of course the vast majority of the police are great caring folks….but a few bad apples….

    Why is it that when a black person in the CD speaks up about being upset over the changing neighborhood, white folks get sensitive and defensive? Most black folks are frustrated that many of their friends and family have had to move south…why should we as white folks moving in be surprised or defensive about that? Common sense. It sucks for these families/friends getting split up because of economics. It doesn’t help with relations when the white folks refuse to understand where the black folks are coming from….including the refusal to appreciate that maybe there is different perception of cops in general….depending on your life experience.

  20. When I get called a racist just for where I have chosen to live and because of the color of my skin I get defensive. I understand the frustrations of anyone having to relocate for what ever the reason.
    I also get the attitude towards the police. I understand it every time I get pulled over. I get nervous, fidgety, short of breath. Of course none of that stops me from saying yes sir and no sir, or please and thankyou, or maybe even you sure look snappy in that uniform.
    They are intimidating wheather you are innocent or guilty. I get it.
    I also get that there are not so nice cops who do not so nice things. I absolutly hate that abuse of power.
    I also have the right to feel angry at the attitudes thrown my way for just living in my neighborhood.

    As for the comments from “my user name” … The jews were excluded from dozens of neighborhoods. The same as the blacks and asians and a few others.
    By saying they had the ability to leave sounds like some sort of generalzation about the economic abilities of Jews…….. sounds a little like the pot and the kettle to me.
    The world is full of double standards. This argument is a prime example.

  21. To add a little bit different twist on this: I come to understand someone who has a different perspective from mine by asking questions and challenging statements that I disagree with. Just because someone is upset with something doesn’t mean everything they say is true. Maybe I’m overly optimistic but I like to think that the folks who have chimed in on this issue have the wherewithal to realize when someone has made a good point — even if runs counter to the one they made. Sometimes that realization takes time … in which case it won’t be reflected in the discussion. So, I agree we need to be respectful and try to understand others. I also see challenging others’ ideas as a form of respect and care.

    That said, if the vast majority of officers are great, then why wouldn’t you think that the cop stop would provide additional opportunities for them to become more engaged?