'These children are lost': Seattle town hall meeting addresses youth crimes

Dozens of concerned community members gathered Thursday at the Columbia City Theather to discuss crime in the South Seattle area.

The two-hour event featured politicians, a retired police officer, community members, business owners, social workers and other community stakeholders.

"The meeting is about listening, sharing, and hearing which problems exist and how these concerns can be dealt with safely," said organizer and moderator Tony Benton.

Benton who is the station manager of Rainier Avenue Radio said event was organized over the course of three days following input from the community concerned about safety.


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"We’ wanted to discuss how we can address the increase in crime that is happening in South Seattle and surrounding communities," he said. "We want to talk about what’s not being done and what can be done.  Our plan was to address the conditions, past and present, that are creating this uptick in robberies and violence."

During the meeting the focus turned to the topic of teens committing crimes.

"Is this a teen problem?" Benton asked the crowd and panelists?

"No," the crowd said in unison.

One person said, "It’s a community issue."

"These children are lost," said community member and panelist Jaye Ware. "They are lost and they don’t have a safe landing."

One word that was thrown around when talking about the topic of teens committing crimes was accountability.

"I think accountability means systemic change," said community member Camille Gipaya. "That was mentioned earlier. We need to talk about systemic change that will actually support the children with a future."

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Thursday’s meeting gave people the opportunity to voice their frustrations, fears and hopes for a better community. While there were no specific solutions those in attendance appeared to agree that teens need consistent support.

"This is a fact," said panelist Ware. "They need more love. They are not feeling the love. They’re not feeling the love and support from their communities. They’re not feeling the love and support of their school systems."