Seattle police are currently investigating five shootings that occurred last weekend on Oct. 23 and 24. These are only the latest to join a record-breaking year in terms of gun violence in both Seattle and across other large U.S. cities. According to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Shots Fired Project, there were 69 homicides and 268 nonfatal shooting victims in 2020. Already that number has been broken this year with 73 homicides and 283 nonfatal shooting victims as shown in a recent report released on Oct. 13.
Something even more disheartening is that gun violence in King County disproportionately impacts those who are Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), and the Black community especially. The report showed that 81 percent of victims were people of color and 50 percent of the victims were Black or African-American. This is despite the fact that only seven percent of the population is comprised of Black or African-American people.
Why gun violence occurs can be a complicated question. But economic insecurities have most definitely contributed to the rise and it seems the pandemic has worsened problems. 2020 was marked with protests and economic turmoil and the problems highlighted then are ever-present now.
One solution that might help fix the issue is to look at the problem through a different lens and approach it differently than how it has previously been handled by police. A project currently in the works and spearheaded by a two million dollar investment from Mayor Jenny Durkan is the Regional Peacekeepers Collective. The program aims to treat gun violence as a public health problem and to focus on intervention, prevention and restoration. The coalition is formed of many smaller community programs already active and other partners such as Alive and Free, UW Harborview Medical Center and Choose 180. It is the first and only partnership so far in the region dedicated to this crisis. RPKC will hopefully tackle the issue holistically and with care to historically neglected communities within Seattle.