The shooting at Seattle Pacific University that left freshman Paul Lee dead and two others injured four months ago was caught on tape by surveillance cameras. Students, faculty, alumni and others have signed an online petition asking major local TV stations not to air the footage.
The petition has received over 1,400 signatures in less than two weeks, the Stranger reported on Monday.
According to the petition, which names KOMO, KIRO, KING, and Q13 Fox, releasing the footage is cause for two primary concerns. The first emphasizes the potential for “copy-cat” incidents, and cites the “profound effect” shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech University had on the SPU shooter. Deciding not to release the footage may help end the cycle of the emulation of violence, the petition claims.
The second concern is continued trauma. Students anticipate an “unnecessary and unconstructive retreat into one of the darkest chapters of their history.” More coverage of the video, the petition states, could retraumatize people close to the incident.
This summer, editors from the local TV stations filed public disclosure requests under the Washington state Public Records Act to receive access to the footage. A lawsuit initiated by SPU and others against these stations and the City of Seattle to impede the editors’ movements is now before the Washington State Court of Appeals. If the court rules that the footage can be disclosed, it is unclear whether editors will decide to air the video.