Capitol Hill residents concerned about increase in hate crimes, harassment

SEATTLE -- Is it safe for the LGBTQ community in Capitol Hill? That was the question discussed at a forum on hate crimes Tuesday night. Community and city leaders say something needs to be done to stop an alarming trend.

Doug Hamilton has lived in Capitol Hill for more 20 years. He’d always felt it was a safe neighborhood until one night in July 2013.

“This guy bursts out of that door over there and just started taunting us. He said, 'Are you gay, are you bisexual, are you queer?'”

Doug says at first that he and his friends were in shock.

“We thought maybe we can reason with him, which was a huge mistake. You just can’t reason with the irrational.”

The taunting escalated and the man punched Doug, knocking him to the ground.

“I got a massive concussion, I was in bed for three weeks recovering.”

Doug’s not the only person targeted by hate in Capitol Hill.

“I felt like I got slapped in the face,” says Michael Kidd, who had an incident with a cab driver this weekend. “Basically he called me something vulgar and derogatory, very homophobic.”

Mayor Ed Murray, a longtime resident of Capitol Hill, says these kinds of stories bother him.

“Personally, it’s incredibly upsetting.”

That’s why he attended Tuesday night's forum to talk about what can be done to stop hate crimes.

“I think if people don’t feel safe, if they perceive they’re not safe, then we have a problem. And we as a city and we as a community have to respond.”

Solutions like more policing and late night transportation were discussed. Those changes could take a while to implement. In the meantime, Doug says he’s not going to live in fear.

“I’m a lot more cautious about loitering and being aware. But absolutely I’m not going to be driven out of my neighborhood.”