Is Code of Street Silence Finally Fraying in Violence-Plagued Seattle?


Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat asks Chukundi Salisbury, who buried one of his best friends three years ago after a inexplicable shooting in Seattle, for wisdom about the city’s latest round of violence, including a killing at the same corner May 24. “What I’ve learned,” Salisbury says, “is there is such a disdain for the system and the police that some people would rather see a killer go free. They choose to let street justice work it all out.” In 2009, Salisbury launched what the most promising inner-city movement in years, Westneat says. It was a full-on crusade to try to jar Seattle from its slumber about street violence, and in particular to try to break the “no snitching” code that fuels repeating cycles of revenge and violence.

Three years later, Salisbury says the effort so sapped him he’s had to step away a bit: “I used to be out there, talking to gang members. But one shooting — and you know there will be another shooting — it sucks the air right out of you. It’s been a hard three years.” He insisted there has been progress. The biggest is a sense the code of silence may be fraying. After a deadly shooting two weeks ago at a Jack in the Box restaurant, police at first reported that “although there were 40-50 individuals on scene, no one provided information to officers as to what occurred.” That night, a woman called police and outed the alleged shooter. The next morning, a detective got a photo of the shooter in his email. By the end, five witnesses, as well as the shooter’s sister, had all told police he was the guy.

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