‘We are fed up and we need help’: WWRHAH’s letter to Mayor-elect Murray, following Roxhill Park rape report

December 17, 2013 at 4:46 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news, Westwood | 43 Comments

We talked with police again today about the Roxhill Park rape report that first emerged in a letter sent by Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth International High School principals to their schools’ families, published here Monday afternoon. The Denny student first reported it to a school employee yesterday, saying it happened in the park around 3:30 last Thursday afternoon; police tell us the report then was given to a school-assigned police officer, and the case then was referred to the SPD Sexual Assault Unit, which hoped to have a detective speak with the victim today. With the investigation still at an early stage, no written report is available yet, we’re told. But here’s one thing in writing: The following letter just sent to Mayor-elect Ed Murray from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, making sure he understands the park’s crime crisis and asking what

As chronicled here previously, West Seattle’s newest community council already had been focused on the park and its challenges – and this just stepped it up further. We’ll let you know what response they receive, and will continue to follow up the investigation as well.

43 Comments

  1. Speaking as someone who moved to WS only 6 months ago and who regularly uses that bus stop I must say that this letter does an excellent job of summing up the issues and analyzing the problem.

    Comment by colleen — 5:27 pm December 17, 2013 #

  2. Excellent letter. Let’s hope Murray (and not one of his aides) sends a personal response that includes specific actions the city plans to take. Expressing his concern is meaningless without action. Crime is the most-important issue facing our city.

    Comment by Sonoma — 5:31 pm December 17, 2013 #

  3. Correlation is causation. Metro buses are not causing crime in the area, as this letter implies. That’s faulty logic and misdirects our reaction to crime from the real causes: poverty, racism, lack of adequate education, and lack of mental health services. Metro buses in the area are not the cause of crime in the area, and to make that the point of this letter is to ignore the real causes of crime.

    Comment by gotb — 6:23 pm December 17, 2013 #

  4. No bus routes in West Seattle. Let the riff-raff catch the buses in White Center or Burien. No Metro service in West Seattle.

    West Seattleites will be happy to drive their Audis, Subarus, and Lexus(es) to work. Keep Metro the heck off the peninsula.

    Sign the petition at Mars Hill Church, White Center Branch.

    Comment by Genesee Hill — 6:26 pm December 17, 2013 #

  5. Just received a recorded message from Madison Middle School principle.
    Mon. 16th three girls walking on Stevens St. after school were approached by a man in his 50′s or 60′s with grey hair and a four door car. He drove past them and said “Hi girls” and snapped a picture of them with a red camera.
    With all that has been going on here in the past few months, vehicles stolen, burglary ,rape, flashers,murder, package theft etc., Im spinning. I didn’t grow up here like this but now my kids are. I want my damn community back.

    Comment by Alki resident — 6:27 pm December 17, 2013 #

  6. Thanks, A.R. – first we’ve heard about that. Was that a telephoned message or an e-mailed audio file? If so, if you or anyone else would care to forward it … so I can try to verify it – I would appreciate it. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 6:32 pm December 17, 2013 #

  7. @gotb All the things you list are indeed the ultimate root cause to most crime. Unfortunately, in the short term, they are also beyond the scope of our very, very, very low level of community governance to address those things from the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods system we are a part of.
    .
    There is indeed a reported uptick of issues since the hub came into Westwood–and that hub in general isn’t going anywhere. We are pushing for mitigation to the identified impacts of the hub’s presence, which is Metro’s responsibility to a point, and for mitigation to a variety of issues in the park that the
    City of Seattle has neglected for years. Or a generation, depending on who you ask.
    .
    Joe Szilagyi,
    WWRHAH CC Secretary

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 6:35 pm December 17, 2013 #

  8. Actually, the transit site IS part of the problem. It has become a layover point for malcontents, thugs and other criminal elements. It has become a de facto meeting point for little gang-bangers and wannabees.

    It is a drawing point for homeless beggars and others.

    It IS part of the problem, as it enables the problem.

    Add please take your accusations of poverty, racism, lack of education etc. EVERY child in this city has free schooling if they chose to participate. And people can chose whether they want to rob, rape, etc. WE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO EVER TOLERATE THIS.

    Please take your red herring bleeding heart liberalism elsewhere. It does not provide solutions other than making you feel good about yourself.

    Comment by Ray — 6:38 pm December 17, 2013 #

  9. @gotb – I don’t disagree that it seems people immediately want to place blame on something when they’re angry, scared, and frustrated about someone being victimized in their community, however can you explain a bit about how poverty and racism might lead to child rape in the park?

    Comment by Jason — 6:39 pm December 17, 2013 #

  10. It was just called to my phone 15 minutes ago. Perhaps an email will be eventually be sent out.

    Comment by Alki resident — 6:44 pm December 17, 2013 #

  11. There’s nothing in Tweets by Beat or on the police map – hope it has been reported to police.

    Comment by WSB — 7:08 pm December 17, 2013 #

  12. And by the way, thank you for those involved with Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council – at least you’re attempting to make progress and that’s really great, thanks for your work.

    Comment by Jason — 7:21 pm December 17, 2013 #

  13. Look Roxhill park has the potential for crime and other bad activities because of it’s literal nature. I walked north from Roxbury to Barton 4 years ago from the old bus stop on Roxbury. I had to walk through a path in the rushes to get to Target. I saw short-dogs and beer cans strewn along the trail and turned on the personal radar keeping an eye on the surroundings and I am 6-foot plus, 250 pound guy.
    -
    We could turn the park it into a concrete lined storm drain, but that would defeat the point of having a park.
    -
    In 2013, a line of Metro buses along the south side of Barton keeping pedestrians and even drivers from seeing what is going on can’t help. Nor the easy access to ready transportation (even a low life can access “One bus away”).
    -
    I say the concerns are legit, and hope the new mayor and “Metro” (King County) addresses them

    Comment by JayDee — 7:22 pm December 17, 2013 #

  14. gotb addresses general (and valid) issues, however, this park crisis is very specific and needs to be seen as such. The bus problem is an enabler to crime, the evidence is obvious. And it is more easy to fix than any of the problems gotb lists; park solutions can be addressed specifically and be solved. As a supreme liberal (and proud of it) you gotta look for solutions to the immediate problem; the systemic issues are a whole other conversation and way bigger than our park.

    Comment by sarah — 7:32 pm December 17, 2013 #

  15. I walked thru the park today. We must not let the thugs take our greenspace and by fleeing that is handing it over. But the best news was the city park guys working to trim the brush back today. Better yet was the throng of teens doing what I suggest….take our park back by flooding it with US. Greenspace is precious don’t let it go. R

    Comment by batgurrl — 7:41 pm December 17, 2013 #

  16. “poverty, racism, lack of adequate education, and lack of mental health services”

    .

    Those are not causes, those are excuses. How about blaming the rape of a child on the perpetrator instead of coming up with theoretical excuses?

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 7:47 pm December 17, 2013 #

  17. You left out the murder where the guy was beaten to death by shopping cart.
    .
    That happened before this was a hub or the work had been done on the park. Though the hub certainly has not improved anything.
    .
    Where are the police here?

    Comment by MyEye — 7:53 pm December 17, 2013 #

  18. I forwarded the email I received with principal’s recorded message to Madison parents explaining the photographing incident.
    I completely agree with Sarah and Batgurrl about taking back our space and dealing with the immediate, fixable problems.

    Comment by newnative — 8:03 pm December 17, 2013 #

  19. MyEye – I don’t believe they intended to go back past 2013. Certainly there were other major incidents such as the murder you mention; that murder was in 2010. Here’s our story from the killer’s sentencing in 2011.
    .
    http://westseattleblog.com/2011/09/victims-family-furious-as-roxhill-park-killer-sentenced-to-11-years/
    .
    But aside from that – our archives show few major incidents at the park in recent years. Doesn’t mean things didn’t happen that we never heard about . But not armed robberies, major assaults, and a rape.
    .

    Comment by WSB — 8:14 pm December 17, 2013 #

  20. Another day, another report of a new predator stalking kids in West Seattle. We clearly have a reputation as a safe neighborhood for rapists, child molesters, kidnappers, and other assorted scum to do their thing without fear.

    Enough.

    Tomorrow morning and afternoon, I will be driving the streets of Admiral looking for this white-haired pervert. If he’s lucky, all I’ll do is call the police. If he’s not…?

    Comment by Admiral California — 8:17 pm December 17, 2013 #

  21. Been here a long time in W/S and in the last two years I have seen a lot more crime of all types burglary, drug related, car theft, property destruction, garbage dumped. The city of Seattle can say all they want on how the problems are no worse than the past or even improved, I know better. With their attitude being such it will continually get worse. It is too bad they can’t just say we got a problem and start working on a new system that works and holds people accountable for their actions on both sides. I have to agree 100% that the areas near the bus hubs whether Calif. & Alaska or the Westwood area that the surrounding areas have been hit the hardest.

    Comment by wetone — 9:36 pm December 17, 2013 #

  22. Perhaps this was already covered; but I wonder if Roxhill Elementary School parents were also sent home letters and informed of the incident in Roxhill park?

    Comment by Rose — 12:05 am December 18, 2013 #

  23. I know that this comment will make me unpopular, but i dont think metro is to blame for criminal behavior. If any, thanks to the buses there is more foot traffic in the area. The tall bushes by themselves provide too much seclusion for comfort already. Also, is anybody aware that there is a huge low income population on the south side of Roxhill? I suspect these criminals acting in the park dont come from far lands brought in by metro buses. They are local.

    Comment by rb — 12:22 am December 18, 2013 #

  24. Great letter, but man do I feel sad about what is happening in West Seattle.

    Comment by evergreen — 1:18 am December 18, 2013 #

  25. I agree with West Seattle Hipster regarding gotb’s comment. The “poverty, racism, education” argument is so incredibly naive. There are plenty of poor people in the world that don’t go around committing acts of violence. You can build all the after-school programs you want; sure, it might make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but it will never change the fact that the world is filled with savages that are inherently violent.

    Comment by Seriously — 4:43 am December 18, 2013 #

  26. After the double stabbing, there was a police presence in and around the park for several days. They’ve since disappeared.

    In the spring I had met with a Parks employee and gone over to look at some overgrown areas along the SE trail. As we spoke at the edge of the very wide pathway, a thug in a dew rag strode deliberately toward us – and through us, knocking us both sideways. I wasn’t that surprised, but the Parks guy was flabbergasted. It was such a cheap gangster move.

    Buses may not ’cause’ crime, but the fact that this is now an end-of=the-line destination makes it a great meeting place for all kinds of riff-raff. The garbage is phenomenal, much of it package wrapping from merchandise shoplifted at Westwood. I’ve been approached multiple times by people wanting to buy drugs. I remember using that park to study native plants, back before it became an overgrown mess of invasives – both plant and human. It’s not that park any more.

    Comment by anonyme — 6:44 am December 18, 2013 #

  27. I am very impressed with the WWRHAH letter. Clear, concise, and spot-on as to the situation. As a long-time walker in the neighborhood, I clearly see that the Metro Hub is a major part of the problem. The line of buses, inadequate site lines and lack of lighting into the park and along the street. Even in the daylight, the buses put up a wall that blocks site lines.

    Comment by iggy — 8:07 am December 18, 2013 #

  28. The comment that the bus hub hasn’t/doesn’t contribute to this is absurd. Here’s the deal: Metro put this in OUR neighborhood, and it’s gotten so much worse since their arrival. The wall of busses, the criminal activity, the garbage, the general sense of being on “high alert” even in broad daylight. Metro dumped this problem in our neighborhood where we live and play.

    Comment by Josh — 9:10 am December 18, 2013 #

  29. For those that think the trees and plantings are the problem. When I hear this argument the first thing I think is other parks in the city with more growth and vegitation are not experiencing this level of crime. This park had vegitation long before the wall-o-busses/ transit dumping ground parked itself right infront. No one opposes a transit hub it just happens to be in EXACTLY the wrong place. I live on the east side of Westwood Village and have owned my property for over 10 yrs, so I’m not new. Things didn’t start to really get out of control until all the busses showed up. Stop making excuses for Metro and acknowledge they made a mistake thats actually hurting this neighborhgood.

    Comment by sophista-tiki — 10:38 am December 18, 2013 #

  30. I’m generally not a worrywart helicopter parent, but until I regain the sense that this park is safe, I’m crossing it off the list of places I take my three-year-old.

    Comment by Ben — 10:39 am December 18, 2013 #

  31. A request for nearby residents that might see this … we’d be interested in photos of the “wall of buses” when it’s at its height. We have tried to take that photo a couple of times and it was too dark, too bright, or we got there between buses … we’ll be trying again but if you happen to be there in your neighborhood and see it any time of day and can just whip out the cameraphone or whatever, editor@westseattleblog.com (or text to our round-the-clock number 206-293-6302) – heck, maybe WWRHAH would like more photographic evidence too. Thanks! – Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 10:55 am December 18, 2013 #

  32. Yesterday I noticed not only the wall of Metro buses on the south side of the street but a wall of school buses on the north side of the street!

    Comment by Bonnie — 11:34 am December 18, 2013 #

  33. The letter is fine but not everyone knows what WWRHAH CC is. It is customary to, at least once in a letter such as this, include a full spelling & not the acronym.

    Second, I would not concede on “lack of funding”. As much as I love my bike, crime & public safety should be top priorities … so don’t give them an excuse that the money is not there.

    Lastly, you didn’t ask for anything specific or even a timeframe. You can not hold people accountable if you don’t provide specifics along with a due date. You want this, this, & this by such & such date. It’s now in writing & you’ve set the expectation with a timeline.

    Comment by drahcir61 — 11:39 am December 18, 2013 #

  34. To Rose – Yes, Roxhill families also got the same letter on Monday afternoon. (The letter Roxhill families got was signed by the principals of Roxhill, Denny, and Sealth.)

    Comment by Denny/Sealth Dad — 1:02 pm December 18, 2013 #

  35. The tone of this letter greatly disappoints me. The rape of that girl has nothing to do with buses. The crime in that park has been there for many years. Is the implication that buses bring bad people into our neighborhood? Guess what? Bad people already live here. My daughter has been stalked by men returning from school as have her friends. This was before the bus hub. I think we should work with Metro to address concerns, but not blame them for everything

    Comment by westwood dad — 2:23 pm December 18, 2013 #

  36. I miss the days when my car just got broken into 19 times in a year – I’m TOTALLY FINE with teenagers stealing my iPod, multiple times, if we can not ever have anything like this ever happen again.

    @Admiral California – be careful if you go vigilante – I’m not saying not to, just be careful.
    Yes, I know, that’s irresponsible to encourage but really, what are the cops doing? what’s the city doing? At least Admiral California is doing something – I support doing something over sticking your overpaid head up your overpaid – city/cops have NEVER cared about white center and they aren’t about to start. (this may as well be white center to them – that’s how they think)

    Can we hire Phoenix Jones?

    Comment by zark00 — 2:42 pm December 18, 2013 #

  37. Denny/Sealth Dad – Thank you for your response. Good to know the schools all worked together to get the word out.

    Comment by Rose — 11:57 pm December 18, 2013 #

  38. If you read the letter carefully, it does not in any way blame Metro for the rape. There is a specific set of concerns directed at Metro; the letter addresses several other agencies as well, including police and Parks.

    I still think that having mounted police in the park would be a great deterrent, and they’re very close by. While Westwood appears to have stepped up security a bit, I’m not convinced they’re doing anything other than being visible. It would help if they started treating the wandering shopping cart issue for what it is – theft. Often, those shopping carts left at the bus stop came over filled with goods stolen from QFC and Target as well – a double theft.

    Comment by anonyme — 10:31 am December 19, 2013 #

  39. Why couldn’t they just stage the busses along 29th between Barton and Henderson until they actually need them at the stop?

    Comment by tye — 3:12 pm December 19, 2013 #

  40. I lived right there for 5 years back when this was transitioning to what we now enjoy as Westwood Town Center. Not to in any way diminish the crime documented last Thursday, but this area used to be much worse. Westwood was almost completely vacant, and the businesses that were there weren’t attractive. Today, you can’t even get in there with a car it is that popular. Roxhill also used to be more of a real jungle, kind of neglected park, but efforts to improve this recently have helped. Sadly, the crime is a White Center thing really since this area is really White Center north. Got to get more coordination between King County Sheriff and Seattle Police. I challenge Mayor Elect Murray to place Westwood, Roxhill, Arbor Heights even on the map.

    Comment by sgg — 8:01 pm December 19, 2013 #

  41. SGG – we cover White Center too and believe it or not, the crime rate there is often if not always lower. Deputies brief the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council and that’s where we get info.

    Comment by WSB — 8:24 pm December 19, 2013 #

  42. @WSB
    I’ll try to get some “Bus Wall” photos. It’s there every time I go to Westwood Village. However, I’ll take my pic from the car so no one tries to steal my iPhone ;-)

    Comment by Wes C. Addle — 5:47 pm December 20, 2013 #

  43. Thanks – I should mention that Joe from WSTC sent some good views of the WOB yesterday – so the collection has begun.

    Comment by WSB — 5:57 pm December 20, 2013 #

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