It was hard to pick just ten stories from 2015 — a big year for local and global connections. Here were some of the biggest, best or most interesting stories that we had in The Seattle Globalist.
The shooting of Chinatown/International District activist Donnie Chin, and the fallout over hookah lounges
The shooting death of activist Donnie Chin, who had run a grassroots security and safety organization in the International District for decades, already had major implications before the political wrangling that stemmed from it. Chin, who was killed in his car though Seattle police say he was not the target of the shooting, was an advocate for improved policing and safety in Chinatown/International District, a neighborhood that residents, business owners and others say has been neglected by the city.
But Mayor Ed Murray and some neighborhood residents immediately identified the neighborhood’s hookah lounges, private clubs that allow tobacco smoking, as a cause for concern after Chin’s death. Many hookah lounge patrons questioned if the city had data to support the assertion that crime stemmed from the businesses and wondered if the crackdown targeted East Africans.
Chin’s shooting remains under investigation and the city backed off of its initial attempts to shut the hookah lounges down.
Stories: International District community leader shot and killed Thursday | Donnie Chin remembered at Sunday night vigil | Crackdown on hookah lounges in wake of Donnie Chin shooting | Passionate defense of Seattle hookah lounges at city council meeting | Replace hookah lounges with safe, healthy spaces for East African youth | The hookah lounge crackdown needlessly targets East Africans | Community policing is the safety solution the ID needs
Black Lives Matter protesters interrupt Bernie Sanders in Seattle
Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders came to Seattle in August to fundraise and speak at a local rally honoring Social Security’s 80th year. Sanders was interrupted by two Black Lives Matter activists, Mara Jacqueline Willaford and Marissa Johnson, who took the mic and demanded to be heard. The crowd booed the two women and the rally ended. Globalist writer Ijeoma Oluo examined the local reaction to the activists, and explored how the event revealed Seattle’s racial divide that many in the city try to deny.
Yoga class for people of color shut down after threats and vitriol
People of Color Yoga, a class which had been run for five years at different studios, was shut down earlier this year after threats were made to the teacher and to the studio that planned to host it, Rainier Beach Yoga. Class organizer Teresa Wang told Globalist columnist Reagan Jackson her intention was to create an alternative space for people of color to practice, and that no one would have been turned away from the class. The class started receiving the threats after Seattle radio show host Dori Monson questioned Wang on his show.
Nestora Salgado’s continuing court battle in Mexico
Nestora Salgado, a longtime Renton resident, has been in jail in Mexico for more than two years after being accused of kidnapping. The charges stem from her leadership of a local militia, which are allowed to act as a community police force in her native state of Guerrero, Mexico. Her supporters say her prosecution is politically motivated, and her accusers have missed multiple court dates. After spending more than a year in a maximum security prison with limited visitors, Salgado was transferred this year a Mexico City women’s prison. Globalist reporter Alysa Hullett met with Salgado in person to talk about the case.
Stories: Meeting La Comandante: a jailhouse interview with Nestora Salgado | Nestora Salgado accusers fail to appear in court; supporters mark anniversary | Nestora Salgado moved to medical unit in Mexico City prison
Five words we wish we had in English
Have you ever been guilty of issey? Been bored at dinner with someone who can’t stop chuī niú? If you speak a language other than English, you know the feeling of needing to express a common concept without an equivalent phrase in English. Globalist writers Goorish Wibneh and Deric Gruen explored five words each in Amharic and Arabic, and Globalist Community Editor Christina Twu listed her favorite five words in Mandarin Chinese.
Head of Spokane NAACP revealed to be white, after a decade of claiming she was black
For a few weeks, the entire nation was obsessed by the strange story of Rachel Dolezal, the president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, a white woman who had been claiming for a decade that she was a multiracial black woman and had been a well-known advocate for diversity issues in Idaho and Spokane. The story broke after her estranged parents told reporters that she was white, though she closely identified with her adopted brothers who are black. The national headquarters of the NAACP pointed out that any person of any race can hold a position of leadership in the organization, but Dolezal stepped down.
Mexican immigrants choosing to leave the U.S.
In March, Alysa Hullett reported a three-part series called “Back across the Border” looking at why many Mexican immigrants to the U.S. have chosen to return, citing family reunification and the slow recovery from the recession as top reasons for returning. The issue came to the forefront again in November after the Pew Research Center released numbers showing that more Mexican immigrants have been leaving the United States than entering.
East African refugees chase opportunity in Alaska seafood jobs
The Seattle Globalist and KUOW partnered on a story examining the large numbers immigrants and refugees from Seattle’s East African community spending the fishing season in Alaska to work at the processing plants, despite the language and cultural differences and sometimes hazardous work. Globalist founders Sarah Stuteville, Alex Stonehill and Jessica Partnow traveled to Dutch Harbor, AK, and spoke with some of the workers there — including a few who decided to make “Ballard North” their new home.
As wildfire rages through state, Yakama and Colville reservations are left to burn
This past year was a devastating year for wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, with more than one million acres of land burned in Washington. But Globalist writer Ana Sofia Knauf points out that lost in the coverage of flames converging on multimillion dollar houses was the fact that much of what burned was tribal land. The Colville and Yakama reservations were hit hard by the fires, affecting homes and industries. The Yakama Nation will lose about $500 million from lost timber revenue alone. And tribal leaders also were left wondering whether climate change will make drought conditions at their reservations the new normal.
Outcry over the death of Hamza Warsame
The local Somali and Muslim community were saddened and frustrated after the death of Seattle Central College Running Start student Hamza Warsame. The 17-year-old died when he fell from the sixth floor of an apartment building, where his family and friends said he had gone to study with a classmate. Protesters at several rallies calling for more scrutiny on the case expressed frustration about what they felt was the lack of attention by the Seattle Police Department and the media, which both reported that foul play was not suspected. His family also told the Globalist they felt the police treated them with a lack of sensitivity after the teenager’s death. Police continue to investigate.
Stories: Seattle police investigating death of Somali teen after community outcry | Rally for Somali teen: “People want Hamza’s voice to be heard” | Worldwide attention to Somali teen’s death is justified
What would be your top story? Tell us in the comments.