Gee Scott: ‘We need more police’ in Seattle’s Rainier Valley

31 July 2023

I’m going to start this off with a question: Would you have your son or daughter show up to work after five people were shot at the grocery store that they worked at?

[Editor’s Note: Five people were wounded, two seriously, in a late Friday shooting in the parking lot of a Rainier Beach Safeway. The people injured were attending a pop-up held each Friday that works to help people by providing food and services. The shooters remain at large.]

How about you? Would you show up to work after five people were shot.

We often just talk about Safeway or Albertsons or where it happened. And for some reason, when we talk about the store, the name of the store, it feels like we stop right there.

And the thing that does not get talked about, are the incredible people that keep that place going — keep any grocery store going. The employees at the stores are absolutely everything. And for some reason, I feel like they get forgotten. The florists are amazing people that help you out. Your corsages for proms and all those things? How about the people who help with your cake for birthday parties? What about those back in the meat department?

This particular store in Rainier Beach has done almost everything that it can as a grocery company to keep the store safe. They’ve done private security and monitoring. They’ve implemented all of the defensive design elements suggested by the Seattle Police Department. They’ve partnered with community groups to host these events every week.

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According to The Seattle Times, one of those community groups just so happened to have two of their members shot on Friday. Shantel Patu, the Executive Director and co-founder of Urban Family, said the community organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club, provide the pop-up event for the community every Friday, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Safeway parking lot, as part of a safety initiative.

So the question now moving forward is where are more of the resources? Employees constantly in these grocery stores are subjected to threats and assaults on a regular basis. They have no real means of protection. They can’t have a weapon, they can’t approach someone with a weapon. How long will this continue?

The workers in these stores deserve to feel safe. Where is the union? Where is the UFCW [United Food and Commercial Workers]? Where is the demand to protect these members?

Your aunt, your sister, and your mother should all feel safe going to the grocery store.

Safeway Albertsons has 221 stores in Washington and Alaska. I’m told by a source within the company that they spend as much on the 15 stores in Seattle for security measures and equipment as they do for the rest of the 204 stores in all of Washington and Alaska.

Tammy Morales, the city council member in charge of District 2 said “This tragedy has left us all in a devastated space.” She said that her office would be working toward comprehensive and evidence-based solutions that will prevent such tragedies from reoccurring while addressing the significant need for mental health resources to address the trauma of this event.

If I hear “comprehensive and evidence-based solutions” one more time I think I’m going to puke.

I am tired of a lot of you liberals out here. All you want to do is sit here and talk about this. You get on Twitter and you say these things, and you have this idea. And you tell people, we don’t need police officers.

Ain’t none of y’all at these kitchen tables sitting with Black folks talking about ‘you don’t need police officers.’ I have never heard anybody in a Black community say we don’t need police officers. The conversations centered around ‘we don’t need police’ is because some of you sit there and just talk.

And when you’re done, you go back to your damn bubble.

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I’m sick and tired of these things happening in this community. So here going forward, that parking lot at the Rainier Beach Safeway, needs police presence every single time so it doesn’t happen again.

This needs to be the wake-up call. We need more police. We need more police in that area. We need them there now.

The toothpaste cannot be put back in the tube — we have a real problem. Because we talk about the essential workers in our community. We talk about the amazing people in these grocery stores. But what happens is, I have a feeling that sometimes it just gets summed up as gun violence. And we just move on. And we wait. And I don’t want to wait.

Shout out to the mayor. Shout out to the police chief for showing up there that night. Thank you. You could tell that your presence was needed. You could tell by your being there that you were very concerned. Now we need action.

And I’m telling you right now, any politician in his town, anybody that comes forward with this, we don’t need the police stuff. You can hold police officers that do the wrong thing accountable, and still understand the need for police officers.

This is Seattle 2023. This is not Mayberry 1903. The people working in the grocery stores, the people in the community that live in that area, they’re tired of hearing it.

So if you’re a politician, quit trying to listen to the small minority of people.

Quit trying to say the things that are going to get you elected or get you favor. Just do what needs to be done.

If you really want to know what’s going on, go and sit at the kitchen tables of some folks in the community, then you will find out what’s really going on.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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