viva zapata.


11 years later, justice for slain singer Zapata

When I heard the verdict on the news last night, a wave of unexpected emotion came over me. I mean, I knew I would feel something, but not quite that much.

Steve Moriarty from the Gits had asked friends and fans to be spectators during the trial, and I’d meant to make it down there, somehow, but work and life got in the way (lame, I know). And, to be honest, I also knew that being there and watching it would be hard to take. Which seems selfish in the extreme, because her friends and family and bandmates were sure there every single day.

Mia Zapata had already been murdered long before I moved to Seattle in 1995, so I can’t claim that I knew her, or had ever seen the Gits play. But for some reason I always felt this odd – alliance is the best word – with her. Strong, independent woman making her way through the world, doing things her way, making it happen.

I guess the most obvious reason for this is that it could have been me. I walk the city streets at night, I come from a city where civilized people take cabs everywhere (originally, the police suspected a cab driver, since Mia didn’t have a car and she took cabs everywhere). She wasn’t stupid, she was razor-smart.

It could have been me.

I moved to Seattle in the aftermath of Mia’s death, which had a profound impact on the music community (understatement of the decade, I realize). Home Alive had just became a presence, the whole concept of making sure the woman standing next to you at the rock show or the bar got home safely was suddenly something everyone thought about. And even as late as 1995, downtown Seattle at night was a truly scary place, even for a girl who honed her street smarts on Avenue A.

There is so much more that could be said – about the original attitude of the police towards Mia and the case after her body was found; about the tenacity of her bandmates and her family, refusing to let her be forgotten; and finally, the SPD making good, and the cold case squad running down that son of a bitch murderer through DNA.

If there was ever a moment that I believed in a god, this was one of them.