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Friday, August 16, 2013

No, Cops Aren't Bopping About Wallingford, Telling Residents to Call 911 on Black Teens

Posted by on Fri, Aug 16, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Several Slog readers have sent in tips about a recent post on Wallingford's neighborhood blog, Wallyhood.org, about a resident who lives near N 49th Street and Burke Avenue and reports confronting a group of teenagers who he saw breaking into his car. The resident shouted, the kids ran, the resident called the cops.

Here's the pertinent part:

The police showed up in about 7 minutes and they couldn’t find the group. They did find one youngster who lived in the area who sort of fit the description of the one who ran. He had nothing on him or any priors. The police think that they likely had a car nearby, ducked into a store or live nearby.

The police asked that I share this experience with you all and if you see a group of black teens wandering the neighborhood, to call the police.

I read that last sentence and my bullshit detector started trilling.

I'm skeptical any SPD officer would tell a potential crime victim to call the police simply if they saw "a group of black teens" because that kind of advice—and those resulting 911 calls—would be utterly useless to responding officers.

As SPD spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb explains, "We need specific information in order to make a stop." Info like physical descriptors of subjects (meaning: piercings, hairstyles, height, janky noses, not just race), the type of clothing they're wearing, the car they're driving, a license plate number, anything that makes a person or their mode of transportation unique enough for officers to make a legal stop. That said, it's pretty weird that the resident doesn't offer up any physical or clothing description of the teens—even though he (or she) says he (or she) confronted them.

In order to make a legal stop, "We need to develop reasonable suspicion, which is the first step to probable cause," Whitcomb explains.

Whitcomb is also skeptical that the situation happened as the resident describes. He adds, "It needs to be pretty specific description in order for me to want to get out and make a contact." Race doesn't cut it.

In case that isn't clear: Black teens are allowed to roam around neighborhoods, even lily-white Wallingford. Roaming in packs, as all teens do, doesn't make them criminals.

That said, the best part of that otherwise pretty racist and useless Wallingford blog post is its comments section:

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  • Wallyhood.org

 

Comments (33) RSS

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Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 1
The City's so White...I gotta wear shades!!

As the United States moves toward a majority-minority population, Seattle lags behind the rest of the nation and its King County neighbors when it comes to diversity.

Census Bureau figures show the share of the city’s population made up of non-white or Hispanic residents increased by only 1.2 percentage points between 2000 and 2011. In the same time period, King County’s minority population rose to 45.5 percent, a 7.9 percent increase.

Seattle, where 66.7 percent of residents are described by the Census bureau as white, is now the whitest of King County’s five largest cities. Two of them – Renton and Kent – actually home to majority-minority populations, meaning no single racial group comprises more than half the population.


http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/S…

Welcome to SROTU's Country.

Diverse.

Modern.

A 21st century village.

Leave the by-gone dense monoculture of the city.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on August 16, 2013 at 11:56 AM · Report this
2
Racist Wallingforders aside, I couldn't help but laugh at Sgt. Whitcomb's need to enumerate the circumstances that would make him "want" to get out of his patrol car.

The open-air drug market and occasional all-out brawl at 3rd & Pine never seem to make the cops "want" to get out of their patrol cars either.
Posted by d.p. on August 16, 2013 at 11:56 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 3
Wallingford is lily white? Really? It's a rich diverse community full of fine people of all colors just west of the University. I find that remark racist in itself.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on August 16, 2013 at 12:07 PM · Report this
4
Maybe he wasn't talking to SPD, might have been George Zimmerman he was talking to.
Posted by hifiandrew on August 16, 2013 at 12:08 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 5
"black teens": keeping lazy cops in business since the 18th C.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on August 16, 2013 at 12:16 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 6
Are there any neighborhood blog comment sections that aren't racist garbage? Never worth reading.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on August 16, 2013 at 12:18 PM · Report this
lowlytootle 7
I lived in Wallingford for two years not long ago, and let me tell you, it is overwhelmingly white. Ride the 16 and tell me that isn't true.
Posted by lowlytootle http://hollowearthradio.org/programs/134 on August 16, 2013 at 12:21 PM · Report this
8
I've lived here for ten years and it's pretty damn white, Phoebe. As in ~80% or so. So in fact, you're right about the 'rich' part, but as for the 'diverse' part? Not so much.

Posted by jt on August 16, 2013 at 12:40 PM · Report this
Fnarf 9
The homeowners are overwhelmingly white or Asian, but during working hours there are a lot of people of color. You may not see them walking around except at lunchtime, but they are there, in the schools and in the businesses, in large numbers. The building I'm sitting in right now has approximately 50 people of color in it.

@1, what you are describing is called "inversion" and it is happening in every large city in the country -- even Detroit, on a small scale. Rich white people are recolonizing the central neighborhoods that they abandoned (with the help of massive government subsidies) after WWII, while the ring of suburbs around them are receiving the pushed-out people of color they displaced, plus the vast majority of immigrants, who can't afford central city neighborhoods. It's a mixed blessing for both -- the cities are bursting with wealth and urbanist amenities, but losing their cultural diversity and energy, while the ring suburbs are in some cases benefiting from the chaotic energy of immigration but in many others are sinking into decay and despair, especially if they can't attract immigrants. Compare Grinnell County, GA with East Cleveland, OH. Your characterization of what is happening in Kent is wholly imaginary, though.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on August 16, 2013 at 12:58 PM · Report this
emor 10
I live in Wallingford and Wallyhood is always good for a laugh. Between the NIMBY handwringing, subtle and not so subtle racism, and classist worry about Real Change vendors at QFC, it doesn't paint the nicest portrait of my neighbors.

I can also attest that this neighborhood is even less diverse than Capitol Hill, Phoebe.
Posted by emor on August 16, 2013 at 12:59 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 11
@10: The diversity of a community is not only about it's skin color ratios, it's about the humanity of the community and the spirit of its people. Is Ballard next on your list to trash? Of course it's mostly white - that's it's history. That's Seattle's history (except for native Americans). I fail to see why you think it's demographics are inherently sinister. Also there isn't a neighborhood in the city where people are not complaining about zoning changes and the homeless.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on August 16, 2013 at 1:09 PM · Report this
DOUG. 12
I'm commenting here because my comment is in the comments. Comments?
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on August 16, 2013 at 1:10 PM · Report this
13
I am glad SPD has issued this denial, but I know for a (I was told, hand on gun, to "calm down") fact that SPD has detained and questioned people on two word descriptions before.
Posted by It Would Have Been One Word, If People Still Said "Negress" on August 16, 2013 at 1:35 PM · Report this
14
@11 There's a reason Seattle's north neighborhoods are traditionally white - and it's about a racist history. Redlining and restrictive covenants prevented people of color from buying homes in most north Seattle neighborhoods (and others, including Queen Anne, etc.) - and until the late 60's, Seattle north of the ship canal was a "sundown" zone. That meant that virtually no people of color lived there and it also meant that African Americans were expected to be out of the area when the workday ended. After dark, a black man in particular was likely to be stopped by the police, questioned about his business and informed that he had better not be seen in the neighborhood again.

I got this info from a great Seattle PI column from a few years ago: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/opinion/a…. Anyone who doesn't know about Seattle's racist past should read it (and those who do might want a refresher).
Posted by brieg on August 16, 2013 at 1:37 PM · Report this
Wallyhood 15
The police offer descriptions of people who are suspects of crimes all the time, and encourage people to call in if they see someone matching that description.

It doesn't make it a crime to match the description, but it does make it worth calling the cops and having them take a look.

Equating "you should call the police if you see person X" with "Person X is a criminal" is intentionally disingenuous and inflammatory reporting, Cienna. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Posted by Wallyhood http://www.wallyhood.org/ on August 16, 2013 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Wallyhood 16
The police offer descriptions of people who are suspects of crimes all the time, and encourage people to call in if they see someone matching that description.

It doesn't make it a crime to match the description, but it does make it worth calling the cops and having them take a look. That the description, in this case, was limited to the fact that they were a group, that they were teenagers, and that they were black, sucks.

Wish we had more to go on, but, the fact is, that's enough to be fairly useful in Wallingford. No, not all blacks. No, not all teenagers. No, not all groups. "Group of black teenagers in Wallingford right now." That's useful. Unfortunate phrasing, but useful.

Equating "you should call the police if you see person X" with "Person X is a criminal" is intentionally disingenuous and inflammatory reporting, Cienna. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Posted by Wallyhood http://www.wallyhood.org/ on August 16, 2013 at 2:08 PM · Report this
Wallyhood 17
@#6: read the comment section of the Wallyhood post. You may not agree with everything said, but, like most Wallyhood comment discussions, the tone is reasonable and logical. You'll find alot less irrational name calling there then in the Slog, frankly.
Posted by Wallyhood http://www.wallyhood.org/ on August 16, 2013 at 2:30 PM · Report this
18
@2 So True :) but you will find Whitcomb out of his car today at the Hemp Mess handing out Doritos. Like there is nothing better form him to do, plus 10 to 1 the Dopers know the laws already.
Posted by Gray Panther on August 16, 2013 at 2:43 PM · Report this
stirwise 19
A few months back a cop in Capitol Hill asked if I'd seen a group of black kids (I was walking my dog, he was in his patrol car). When I said no, he told me to call 911 if I saw them. I think this is something some cops actually do.
Posted by stirwise on August 16, 2013 at 3:31 PM · Report this
20
@ #16
NO, as the OP quoted the SPD officer as clarifying, just saying 'black teens' is not enough of a description to warrant police activity.

As a man who was once a 'black teen' and had to routinely deal with suspicious/angry/police calling whites in white neighborhoods because they either think all blacks look and dress the same or feel that all black people are likely criminals and up to something (which I think is the modus behind your and that wallyhood commenters rationale). Sadly, prejudiced people LOVE to take advantage of societies bigotry and call in fake 'suspicious activity' reports just to have the police harass whatever black people are in their neighborhoods into leaving. It happened so often down in the southern cities where I grew up that police started giving out citations for making false statements/wasting their time.

Imagine the reverse of it. "Be on the look out for white adults in Wallingford and call the police if you see any". Doesnt exactly sound reasonable does it? Thats because it isnt, and its useless.

Height, weight, tattooes, specific clothing (not just baggy pants and a hoody), Not just "young and black AKA trayvon looking dangerous criminal that needs to be shot or put in jail!"
Posted by araucania on August 16, 2013 at 3:35 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 21
@12 I'll see that and raise you @54:
http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive…
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on August 16, 2013 at 3:58 PM · Report this
22
@20 "NO, as the OP quoted the SPD officer as clarifying, just saying 'black teens' is not enough of a description to warrant police activity."

Sure, but your post seems to imply that it ends there and no police officer uses a two word description as a reason to detain, question, harass, frisk, jail, etc. someone.

While I'd like to think that could be your experience, and good on you if it is, there is a long and inglorious history of matching the description.

Your example of "white adults" is indeed unreasonable, for a variety of reasons. On the other hand, if the description was red-head, that is percentage-wise closer to your standard two-word description. Not surprisingly, there is a history of institutional racism there as well, although they're white now.

Admittedly, I am probably complicating an important message to Wallyhood, but I don't get the impression you laid enough groundwork for him to make the connection.
Posted by It Would Have Been One Word, If People Still Said "Negress" on August 16, 2013 at 5:21 PM · Report this
23
Wow. This is kind of hilarious (in the bad way).

Fact checking?

"I verified with the reader that it was a direct quote from the police." - The author of the post.

"Verify does not mean asking the person who gave it to you, “really?” It means getting actual third party verification." - comment 90

Come on Wallyhood, you're better than this.
Posted by ourkind on August 16, 2013 at 5:28 PM · Report this
Clara T 24
According to the census Wallingford is 88.4% white -- not full blown Lilly White. The 11.6% is way more Yellow-Oxide than Lamp Black though. Maybe Edwardian Linen? Cienna Madrid should know as she was clearly born in a (Pottery) Barn :)
Posted by Clara T on August 16, 2013 at 9:27 PM · Report this
25
All I know is if I see a group of black teens I always GTFO. Two unprovoked attacks by groups of black teens in a lifetime are more than enough.
Posted by Billy Chav on August 17, 2013 at 1:41 AM · Report this
raindrop 26
Years ago, I was downtown and I didn't have any change for the parking meter, but I had cash, and I was running late for an appointment.
As a group of tall muscle bound and lean black teens approached, I asked one "Hey man, got a quarter for a dollar?" I was desperate. Two or three most gladly reached in their pockets to take advantage of my ridiculous offer - but I got want I wanted and was able to feed the meter for an hour or so. They laughed and howled, smiled broadly, and had the greatest time. I'll never forget that.
Posted by raindrop on August 17, 2013 at 9:31 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 27

#26

Did you also ask for a shoe shine and a tap dance as your "muscle bound" African Americans "howled", Bwana?

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on August 17, 2013 at 11:50 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 28

#25

The only time I was ever robbed in Seattle it was by a gang of 20-something white guys at Westlake who looked like the vegetarian crowd at Evergreen. One distracted me by asking for change, while the other guy grabbed the screen and ran.

It was 6:30pm in summertime, just outside the Starbucks kiosk.

They did a snatch and grab on my netbook and then stole my cell phone while I gave chase.

Now whenever I see some gnarly looking dudes with skateboards, I pull my knapsack in closer.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on August 17, 2013 at 11:53 AM · Report this
29
@16
Umm polite racism is still racism.
I'll take rude diversity, thanks.
Posted by Madame Chintoa on August 17, 2013 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 30
Let's review the facts of this case.

First, the reported crime scene:

http://goo.gl/maps/FzvG4

Sooooo, here's this group of 8 teenagers, girls and boys, just wandering around the neighborhood of Wallingford at 7pm in daylight. How did they get there? Did they take the bus up from South Seattle, because as well all know, they couldn't possibly live there.

So then, they are walking around this neighborhood, which they magically ended up in, and are looking to rob cars. As you know when people rob cars, they do so in packs of 8, because it's so much harder to get caught.

The witness says "breaking into our car. I went out of the house and confronted about 6 boys and 2 girls. The one who was in my car ran around the block towards QFC."

So there was one kid in his car. Was the car door unlocked or did he break in using tools? And why was he sitting there. Don't car thieves move fast and take off? And what about the other "thieves". Did they run, and more importantly why hadn't they gotten into the car yet?

How about this. Teens see a car they find interesting, like a Mercedes or something, and pulls open the handle. Door opens, he gets in and starts saying "check it out. This is the car I want to own" while his friends stand around and say things like "get out there, someone is going to come".

Believe this story?

Ok, move the location to Bellingham, and change the cast from black to white. Believe it now?

I have no idea if any of this is true. But the idea of roaming gangs of teen car thieves, not often seen in Wallingford, appearing out of the blue, seems...hard to swallow. And there's only one witness.
More...
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on August 17, 2013 at 3:26 PM · Report this
31
@30, so when Michael Griffin and Cedric Sandiford were in Howard Beach, were they looking to rob some homes, or were they just riding around and had they bad luck of having their cars break down?
Posted by neo-realist on August 17, 2013 at 4:56 PM · Report this
32
@28: Didn't say robbed, said attacked. As in violent, unprovoked attacks. Crusties don't scare me, although I do detest them.
Posted by Billy Chav on August 17, 2013 at 6:17 PM · Report this
33
You know who would call the cops if they saw groups of black teens walking through the 'hood checking out cars? Black people…
Posted by Sugartit on August 18, 2013 at 5:26 PM · Report this

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