98104: Location Impacts Behavior

People of Pioneer Square (Seattle)


Last month I wrote a post on the topic of vice-districts and transition. Saturday night (3.15.2014) around 5pm an off-duty Seattle firefighter, his wife and a friend of his were harassing a homeless man in Occidental Park.

What made it to the news is here.

What didn’t make it to the news is here:

https://twitter.com/SeattlePD/status/445005520911351808
https://twitter.com/SeattlePD/status/445025958295138305
https://twitter.com/SeattlePD/status/445031756974927872
https://twitter.com/SeattlePD/status/445033664649256961

Consider:

- The Importance of Engaged Citizenship.

Luckily for the homeless man, there was an eyewitness. His account of the incident and request for more active policing are here.

- How Easily Our Assumptions and Biases Impact What We See And Our Responses

“A homeless man was beaten and no police cars arrived. When one of the attackers was stabbed and four police cruisers, two ambulances, a fire truck and several fire department supervisor cars all arrived within minutes.”

- The Impact of De Policing

“Anyone who attends a Sounders, Seahawks or Mariners game is comforted by the large police presence. Officers are there directing traffic, coordinating and controlling the “march to the match” and as people leave the stadiums are there to keep things moving along in a safe and orderly fashion. Then where do they go? Once the games are done and the CenturyLink parking lots empty Pioneer Square becomes ignored by law enforcement until there is blood in the street.”

How Location Impacts Behavior

You don’t hear much about stabbings in Bellevue or Kirkland, Ballard, or Wallingford. Those neighborhoods have much more police attention than does Pioneer Square. This implies that there is an acceptible level of incidents we are willing to tolerate in certain parts of our city. The message is that some people are valued more highly than others.

When we visit vice districts, outrageous behavior such as yelling at complete strangers, dehumanizing people we deem less than ourselves, and drinking too much are not simply tolerated—they come to be expected. This is a lot like treating Pioneer Square like a student whose teacher has no expectations of him/her.

If a person (or a neighborhood) continues to hear they are “not good enough” or “never going to do well” — eventually that is just what will happen.

Catch Me On The Corner,