“These are public health and safety crises that began before COVID and were only made worse by the isolation and economic impacts of the pandemic. We must dedicate real resources to helping communities and families recover,” says candidate for Mayor.
SEATTLE – In the wake of a tragic increase in gun violence and domestic violence throughout the past year of pandemic isolation and disruption, Bruce Harrell, former City Council President and candidate for Mayor, called on current Seattle city leadership to dedicate a minimum of $10 million in federal relief funds to addressing the causes – and long term impacts – of pandemic-related violence.
“As we’ve dealt with the impact of the pandemic over the past year, too often underreported is the health crisis occurring inside our homes and communities – the rise in domestic violence and gun violence,” said Harrell. “Too often these trends are related, where job loss and financial stress, lack of access to external support, and fear of engaging with law enforcement in many communities result in a victim isolated with an abusive spouse or partner, with firearms too often accessible in the home. Our city has a direct role to play in doubling down on outreach, education, and assistance for communities and households impacted by these pandemic-related incidents.”
Harrell points to data collected by the City of Seattle and King County showing an increase in domestic violence related calls to the Seattle Police Department in 2020, more domestic violence-related homicides in 2020 than in 2018 and 2019 combined, and a significantly greater volume of requests for assistance and services at non-profits serving victims and their families.
The same trends are true with gun violence, with high profile shootings like the tragedy at 23rd and Jackson last weekend greatly outnumbered by isolated incidents of gunshots and harm. Seattle has seen a 35% increase in reports of gun violence compared to 2019, and in 2020 had a 26-year high in homicides, the majority committed using guns. These statistics reflect and align with national increases.
“The city will be negotiating for over $200 million in anticipated federal pandemic relief and assistance,” said Harrell. ”We should be asking for – and planning to deploy – funds for community based organizations that protect and advocate for victims of domestic violence, a gun violence victim support fund to help restore lives, prevention strategies for at risk youth, and mentorship and support for young people – especially young people of color – who have been particularly impacted, and victimized, by the increase in gun violence.
Harrell launched his campaign with a detailed set of gun violence prevention proposals, including a cabinet level staff role to coordinate citywide response to gun violence; increased funding for community-based outreach and education to reduce both gun presence in homes and improve safe storage for those who do own firearms; and stronger partnerships with the County and law enforcement to ensure guns used in crimes are traced and removed from circulation, red flag laws are enforced through training and awareness, and other critical measures.
Harrell is also pledging a stronger advocacy role at the state and federal level to remove preemptions for stronger local gun laws and for bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and other overdue reforms.
“We have an opportunity right now to ramp up our response to violence in our homes and neighborhoods and prevent the kinds of tragedies that happen too often on our streets, and behind closed doors. We should take advantage of this opportunity now, so the next Mayor can hit the ground running and address these ongoing crises.”