by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
| Jul 24, 2020
Capitol Hill has always been a place for Seattle's protests. Protesting is part of the fabric of our neighborhood, and it is part of the reason many of us love it here. Our whole region comes here to be with one another, whether it's to celebrate marriage equality, commemorate Pride, stand up for trans lives, or to protest police brutality and institutional racism.
Capitol Hill is a vibrant community, home to a large number of small businesses, arts organizations and schools, and it is also the historic and cultural center of the LGBTQ community. Our businesses, nonprofits, and community leaders overwhelmingly support the Black Lives Matter movement and are committed to working to end systemic racism. We support those demonstrating, including many within our organization, and stand with those who are speaking out against racial injustice and police brutality.
These are hard times for everyone, and for our small business owners who were closed for months because of COVID-19, forced to close again because of the police response to the protests, and then lost access to their businesses during the occupation. Just as our small businesses are starting to open, our customers returning and our local residents are feeling comfortable to go out again, they are again faced with trying to save their small businesses from being permanently closed because of groups coming up to the Hill to smash windows, loot storefronts, and even set fires. It is frightening for all who work or live on Capitol Hill.
When your local neighborhood businesses close, you lose your gathering spot, your places to shop, eat, and socialize, and the local culture that makes a neighborhood. As word spreads that this is not a safe neighborhood, a small business owner loses their customers, and those who live here fear walking in their own neighborhood. Protesting injustice is important and must continue, but so is the safety of all who enjoy being part of the Capitol Hill culture. This is a public safety issue.
We expect the local police to respond when they need to intervene to prevent violent behavior. We are strongly opposed to Federal troops intervening, violating our civil rights, and escalating violent confrontations. We hope that everyone - residents, workers, and protesters alike – denounce violent destruction so that we remain focused on the important issue of coming together as a community to address and dismantle systemic racism, in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, healthcare system, housing, police departments, and the entire judicial system.
For peace and racial justice,
Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO
Capitol Hill Business Alliance