Following a months-long campaign by API community activists, the City of Seattle announced Wednesday, February 17 that the International Children’s Park on Seventh and Lane in the International District will be named after the late Donnie Chin.
The founder and director of the International District Emergency Center (IDEC), Chin was killed during a shootout between rival gangs in the International District on July 23, 2015. Seattle Police have yet to make an arrest for his murder.
The International Children’s Park was originally built in 1981 and was substantially renovated and improved in 2012. Chin was instrumental in the creation of the park. When the Chinatown/International District community began to identify needed programs and neighborhood improvements in the mid-1970s, Chin brought up the need for a children’s park and he continued to champion the idea until the park was built.
In the months following Chin’s murder, the Donnie Chin Children’s Park Naming Committee, a group of community activists led by OCA-Greater Seattle board member Doug Chin, made a request to Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesus Aguirre to rename the park. The superintendent initially expressed reluctance to the name change in October because of a provision in the Parks and Recreation Parks policies that stipulates that “the person must be deceased for a minimum of three years” before a park can be named after a person. At the time, Aguirre said he was open to putting into motion the steps to officially rename the park after Chin when the three years have passed.
This week, the city said Mayor Ed Murray launched the process to rename International Children’s Park in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District as “Donnie Chin International Children’s Park.”
“The Chinatown/International District Community commends Mayor Murray and the City Council for bringing forth the resolution to rename the International Children’s Park after Donnie Chin,” said Doug Chin. “The Asian American community and many others overwhelmingly want the name change so that Donnie’s legacy as the founder of the park and the guardian who gave his life to helping others and making the community a safer place is preserved.”
Murray said he will send to the Seattle City Council a resolution seeking support to rename the park.
“We are very pleased to be able to honor Donnie, a hero in the Chinatown/International District community and the entire City,” Murray said in a statement. “This park would not exist without Donnie’s advocacy. This is a fitting memorial for a man who dedicated his life to serving the children and residents of the neighborhood he loved.”
The city said Aguirre will begin the process to rename the park, which includes consultation with the Board of Park Commissioners. The city also said that the existing Parks policy that requires a person to be deceased for a minimum of three years before a park may be named in their honor will be suspended in this case.
“Through his compassion, persistence, energy and love, Donnie left a lasting legacy on the Chinatown/International District neighborhood,” said Council President Bruce Harrell (District 2). “We honor a hero and a man who has meant so much to our community.”