Seattle, WA - A Seattle city councilmember has proposed speed bumps and raised flower beds to help reduce gun violence in the city’s Central District.
“Several CD residents have reached out to us with proposals to address the incidents of gun violence, including concrete changes to space usage and vehicular traffic, which they believe could have a positive impact, and help reduce the incidences of drive-by shootings,” Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant announced on Tuesday, according to KIRO.
Sawant made her proposals during a City Council Human Services, Equitable, Development, & Renter Rights Committee meeting that was attended only by her and City Council President Bruce Harrell and a few city residents who wanted to share their thoughts on her proposal.
She explained that she had contacted the Seattle Department of Transportation and asked them to “use their expertise to review and implement” speed bumps and raised flower beds to slow traffic flow on 21st Ave E as a means of quelling violence, KIRO reported.
Nobody from the Department of Transportation was present at the committee meeting because, as they explained to a representative from Sawant’s office, their expertise is in "traffic calming measures for the sake of traffic calming," but not as a method for reducing gun violence in the city, KING reported.
There were three drive-by shootings in the Central District during the weekend that preceded the committee meeting.
Sawant called specifically for installing speed bumps on 21st Avenue where there have three drive-by shootings since the beginning of the school year, KING reported.
She also called for "common sense" gun measures that included banning semiautomatic firearms.
"We are aware that environmental design and gun control measures will be insufficient if the overarching problems faced by our society remain unaddressed,” Sawant said.
Seattle police have stepped up coverage in the Central District and other areas plagued with gun violence with “emphasis patrols” in recent weeks, KING reported.
But Sawant was critical of the police department’s efforts, KIRO reported.
“The fact remains that the recent gun violence was not prevented, despite the emphasis patrols,” she said. “Decades of statistical evidence demonstrates that we will not be able to police our way out of this crisis.”
Sawant said she was looking for gun violence reduction measures that did not involve more policing of the areas where it has been occurring, according to KIRO.
She suggested that reducing inequality in Seattle would have an even greater impact than law enforcement, KING reported.
“Statistically speaking as nationwide studies have systematically shown, reducing inequality has the greatest impact on reducing violence and crime, and improving public safety for working people,” the council member said.
Sawant received pushback from some of the handful of city residents who attended the meeting.
“Gun violence is a symptom of systemic racism, not of traffic patterns,” one person told her.
But one man seemed to think that Sawant was spot-on because the Central District provided a perfect opportunity to “make a clean getaway” after a drive-by shooting.
“I think there’s a good chance that if we were to do something there so that you can’t speed through, that it wouldn’t just move the violence. Um, I think people would have rethink or delay [drive-by shootings] and eventually reduce the violence,” he told the two committee members in attendance.
“Cuz I think this is known as the easy place to do it and if we get rid of the easy place to commit a drive-by, then that can reduce violence,” the citizen concluded.
He blamed the increase in shootings in the Central District on the fact that 21st Street has long blocks that make it easy for shooters to escape.