Update from our SE Network Safe Passage program

Posted on: August 11, 2023

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You may have heard that on Friday evening, July 28th, two of our staff from Boys & Girls Clubs of King County and three other individuals were injured during a shooting at Seattle’s Rainier Beach Safeway parking lot.

I am so very thankful that both of our staff are expected to make a full recovery from their injuries and that there were no fatalities from this incident.

Boys & Girls Clubs is actively supporting our injured staff and their families. We are also committing additional resources and the expertise of our new mental wellness team to provide counseling, support, guidance, and comfort to all affected staff and Club teams. This will include both individual and group counseling with licensed mental health professionals.

This horrendous incident occurred during our SE Network Safe Passage program’s weekly Community Healing Space Activation. This weekly activation began in June of 2020 in response to two young black men who were killed by gun violence in the Safeway parking lot. It was important for us to let the families of these young men and other young people from the community that have lost their lives due to gun violence know that their community cares about them.

Every Friday for the last three years, these activations in the Safeway parking lot have taken place without incident. In contrast, prior to the activations, 12 “shots fired” incidents occurred in the parking lot.

It is particularly devastating that this recent act of violence directly opposes the mission of this weekly community activation.

The Safe Passage program is a non-arrest intervention that provides guardianship in the neighborhood by caring adults from the community. Since its implementation in 2015, violent crime has decreased in the Rainier Beach neighborhood by 30% each year.

Folks in the Rainier Beach neighborhood are familiar with our Safe Passage team, also known as the “Blue Coats” or the “Be Safe Bros.” They are out in the neighborhood daily, building positive relationships with youth, neighbors, and local business owners.

Importantly, the Be Safe Bros aren’t outsiders – they are members of the community and folks whose lives also have been impacted by violence. They are trusted community leaders because of their lived experience.

Many of our South Seattle Club youth attend school or live in this neighborhood. The consistent community presence of Safe Passage gives young people a trusted adult in the immediate area. They help youth stop, think critically, and make sound choices in heightened situations.

This place-based approach to violence focuses on supervision, community-building, violence interruption, and de-escalation, and this program works. The model that was implemented in Rainier Beach has since been replicated in other neighborhoods in Seattle.

The work of the SE Network and Safe Passage is more important than ever, and we remain committed to working with youth, families, community members, community partners, schools, law enforcement, and public officials to end gun violence. It will take ALL of us working together to combat this public health crisis.

The SE Network and Safe Passage teams will continue to de-escalate violence and provide community care. If you’d like to partner with us to continue this important work, please join us here.

In solidarity,

Laurie Black | President & CEO
Boys & Girls Clubs of King County

 

Additional reading:
More information about the incident

More on the Safe Passage Program

     

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