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caption: Volunteers of the Chinatown International District Night Watch
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Volunteers of the Chinatown International District Night Watch
Credit: Courtesy Matthew Toles

'We're being visible': Local volunteers keep watch on Seattle's International District

A new block watch has started in Seattle’s Chinatown International District in response to months of vandalism.

Matthew Toles is a former resident of the ID. He says the community has been targeted since the onset of the pandemic and he wanted to do something to keep the neighborhood safe.

“What we’re doing is we’re being visible and we’re having a presence in order to protect our community,” he said.

Toles says he’s not trying to be Donnie Chin, the local activist who kept watch on the community for decades. Chin was shot nearly five years ago while patrolling the neighborhood. His murder remains unsolved.

“Donnie Chin has set a real good example and what he did was so important in showing the impact that this kind of work can have.”

The group’s first night was Tuesday; about a dozen volunteers turned up to walk the streets. Toles says not much happened and that was good.

“I don’t want this to be an exciting job,” he said.

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