Amazon plans to move 1,800 workers out of downtown Seattle offices due to violent crime in the area, which spiked after the city council voted to defund the police budget $36 million since 2019.
Homicides have increased during the pandemic, up 49% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019, according to Thomas Abt, director of the National Commission on Covid-19 and criminal justice. Aggravated assault and assault with a firearm also increased while other types of crime – drugs, burglary and property crimes – were down for the same period, the National Press Foundation reported.
Defunding the police — or the threat of defunding the police — has led to a sharp decline in law enforcement capabilities in major cities, wrote the wall street journal editor Gerard Baker in an opinion piece.
More than 40 buildings in Seattle make up Amazon’s headquarters, the workplace of 75,000 employees, or nearly 7% of the e-commerce giant’s 1.1 million U.S. employees.
The Amazon building on Third Avenue and Pine Street employs 1,800 people, near where 15-year-old Michael del Bianco was shot and killed on March 2.
Citing an increase in violent crime in the area, Amazon said Friday it would temporarily relocate workers from its Third Avenue and Pine Street office. “Given recent incidents near Third and Pine, we are providing employees currently at this location with alternate offices elsewhere,” an Amazon spokesperson told DailyMail.com in a statement. “We hope that conditions will improve and that we will be able to return employees to this location when it is safe to do so.”
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Violent crime, particularly in the Third and Pine area, has driven other businesses out of the area, including cloud technology company Qumulo, McDonald’s and a Russian bakery.
Seattle City Council has come under fire from residents who have called on the city to spend more on public safety. Policing spending was recently reduced by more than $7 million to a total of $35.6 million over the past three years.
Some Republicans and pro-police groups say calls to cut spending on law enforcement have led to a dramatic increase in violent crime in cities overseen by Democrats. But cuts to police spending have been mostly modest, and the same big increase in homicides are being seen across the United States — even in cities that have increased police spending, AP reported.
“Specific democratic policies clearly played a significant role in reversing what had perhaps been the most significant social advancement of the past 50 years – an unprecedented decline in nearly every category of crime,” Baker wrote. .
The spike in homicides stems from a range of factors, including the pandemic, social unrest caused by police brutality and increased gun sales, according to Abt.
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The fight against violence requires new font and public health strategies, said Fatimah Loren Dreier, executive director of Health Alliance for Violence Intervention. Viewing crime as more than a policing issue can help stop the cycle of violence that disproportionately affects black and brown communities across the United States.
Dreier proposes a “community-based violence intervention” strategy that includes outreach, peacemaking fellowships, hospital-based intervention programs, and other approaches to connect with those caught in the cycle of violence. People reached through these programs are less likely to present to hospital emergency departments again, Dreier said.
It’s a mistake to blame the pandemic for the rise in crime in American cities, according to Baker. Such thinking fosters “the climate of anarchy,” Baker wrote.