If you think the police chief or mayor are at fault for Fat Tuesday rioting, sue the bastards, advises Liam Hallinan. At least file a damage claim with the city clerk, as the 32-year-old computer consultant recently did for getting bashed in the face with a baseball bat in Belltown last year. The bat-swinger was a member of a street gang, not a city official, but Hallinan believes City Hall had a hand in the attack that he estimates will cost him $5,000 in dental repairs and counseling.
"After watching the Mardi Gras videos, I went right back to the rage I felt from getting knocked down and beaten up by someone who comes up behind you," says Hallinan, who lives in Belltown. "Thank God I have a shrink today."
Hallinan was attacked after a notorious rash of Belltown street assaults and robberies were supposedly brought under control. The wildings were headline news last August and September after a vicious gang attack on a 44-year-old man was caught on a riveting videotape. Mayor Paul Schell and Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske announced they had added 25 more cops to the area beat and deemed it safe. The mayor promised a bold "walking tour" to prove it.
Just days later Hallinan was attacked coming home at 2am near First Avenue and Bell Street. He heard a group of trash-talking kids behind him and didn't pay attention. Suddenly he was on the sidewalk, stunned, blood pouring from his mouth.
"I don't remember too much. I stumbled to my apartment, tried to keep my teeth from falling out. I was in shock. In the bathroom, I looked in the mirror and with my thumbs pushed everything forward into the original holes, but one tooth wouldn't go back in," says Hallinan, who had no insurance and still faces jaw surgery. "I had a great smile. Losing a tooth was like losing an arm to me."
His face swollen like a melon, he was among those in a Belltown crowd a few days later, he says, watching the mayor get out of a car, reiterate that all was well, and walk into a restaurant for dinner. "That was his walking tour," says Hallinan.
He hasn't heard back on the damage claim he submitted a few months ago—the first step to filing a lawsuit. Hallinan hopes it at least sends City Hall a message. "They were negligent," he says. "They knew there was this violence and misled us to believe they were doing something about it." Sound familiar?