‘It’s scary’: Chinatown-International District advocates ask for funding to improve public safety

Chinatown-International District advocates are asking for $4 million from Seattle City Council and $20 million from King County.

SEATTLE — Advocates for the Chinatown-International District (CID) are asking the City of Seattle and King County for millions of dollars to address public safety concerns.

Pink Gorilla Games, a video game store that’s been in the heart of CID for 17 years, has recently been hit with crime. The latest incident happened on Monday evening.

“Someone came in and pretended to go shopping, made a significant pile on the counter of things they intended to buy, then pulled out a gun and demanded other items including cash from the register and collectible cards,” said owner Cody Spencer.

Spencer said he’s happy his employees weren’t hurt, but that Monday’s robbery was the most extreme.

“I’m just feeling a little down about the whole situation. This is a neighborhood I really love and in the last year or so it hasn’t been what it used to be,” Spencer said.

The robbery was one of the latest examples of why advocates in the district marched Tuesday and are asking officials to invest in the community as they work through next year’s budget.

“For economic recovery, for housing, for behavioral health services and for public safety,” said Tanya Woo, advocate and lead volunteer for the CID Community Watch.

This comes after the community’s efforts to stop a homeless shelter expansion worked. Now, they’re fighting for community engagement, outreach and a public safety plan.

Advocates for the CID are asking for more than $4 million dollars of the mayor’s proposed $88 million for the King County Regional Homelessness Authority and asking King County Council for $20 million.

“We’re still fighting and we’re still going and we want the county and the city to put their money where their mouth is. If they really do believe in social equity and racial justice please invest budget funds in our community,” said Woo.

The Chinatown-International District has had seven homicides so far this year, up from just one the previous year.

According to the Seattle Police Department’s crime dashboard, violent crime has gone up over the past three years.

“Our ancestors, this is what they built and this is what we have and it should be a jewel and an amazing place where people from all over the world can come and enjoy but it’s not. It’s scary and dangerous and we have a bad reputation,” said Woo.

Those at Pink Gorilla are hoping for the same thing.

“Seventeen years here is quite the history and we really don’t want to leave,” Spencer said, “It’s one of the few places you can go and it’s just small businesses everywhere. It’s a really fantastic feeling and I hope that it gets more love and cleaned up to its former glory.”

Seattle Police are investigating Monday’s robbery and it won’t be until next month before any budget decisions are made.