Reported racially motivated hate crimes nearly doubled last year in Seattle

Where racially motivated hate crimes were reported in the city in 2020 (Source: SPD Bias Crimes Dashboard)

A terrible aspect of the COVID-19 crisis seen early here in Seattle has only gotten worse during the pandemic. Bias crimes and race-based hate crime jumped in 2020 and prosecutors say the trend appears to be continuing this year.

The national issue has raised issues in International Districts around the country on policing and how best to respond to the bias crisis.

Here, Seattle Police Department records show a 93% jump in reports of racially motivated hate crimes in 2020 with 405 incidents reported through September, the most recent month available for public reporting. Overall, reported hate crimes were up 72% in the city. Continue reading

Hate crime charge in Pike/Pine shattered glass stabbing attack

A 35-year-old man has been charged with a hate crime in the Sunday, July 22nd stabbing attack on two men during an altercation at 12th and Pine.

CHS previously reported on the attack here. The King County Prosecutor’s office has charged Caster Kwak with one count of malicious harassment.

According to police, the suspect stabbed one of his victims with broken glass as they wrestled in a fight started when Kwak saw the man and another man holding hands while crossing the street at 12th and Pine and started calling the men faggots. Continue reading

City Council considering changes to how Seattle prosecutes hate crimes

The Seattle City Council will begin the legislative process Tuesday afternoon to change the way hate crimes are prosecuted in the city.

CB 119288 would remove Seattle’s malicious harassment crime, the city’s current hate crime statute, and replace it with a “special allegation of hate crime motivation,” giving the City Attorney’s office greater range in prosecuting crimes targeting protected classes and the ability to ask for greater penalties on more serious cases:

This ordinance authorizes the City Attorney to allege that a criminal incident of assault, harassment or property destruction was motivated by the defendant’s perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, mental handicap, physical handicap, sensory handicap, homelessness, marital status, political ideology, age, or parental status.

Replacing the crime of malicious harassment with the new special allegation of hate crime motivation will have three major impacts, according to a city council staff memo on the legislation. Continue reading

A blast from the past: Q Patrol resurfaces on Capitol Hill

Long ago, a group roamed Capitol Hill’s streets at night to protect their community alongside police. Now, a new Q Patrol takes shape, readying its members to de-escalate and assist those facing discrimination, violence, and hate crimes — without the Seattle Police Department.

“A core focus is empowering other queers and other marginalized groups of people,” said Emma, a Q Patrol member. For this story, CHS agreed to not use the full names of members for their safety and security. “We think police are the problem. We’re not trying to antagonize them per se.”

Despite the Q Patrol name, this group is not a vigilante group. They say they don’t want to punish anyone. The Q Patrol is about harm reduction. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Council holding benefit for Bellevue mosque damaged in fire

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-8-12-45-pmNext week, the Capitol Hill Community Council is expanding its neighborhood borders to help the Islamic Center of the Eastside in Bellevue, which is raising money to rebuild after a January arson attack.

“We wanted to really dedicate our time and basically give our space to other folks in our community that are hurting or being targeted,” said CHCC president Zachary DeWolf.

While the ICOE may not be located on Capitol Hill or in Seattle, DeWolf said a benefit hosted by CHCC on February 23 is a way to stand in solidarity with not only the ICOE but also the Muslim community in the neighborhood.

While attacks on the Muslim community have been seen nationwide, so has support for Muslims, said Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Seattle. Continue reading

Police investigating hate crime after gun threat at IHOP

Police are searching for suspects after a Jewish man said he had a gun pulled on him because he was speaking Hebrew inside the E Madison IHOP.

In the incident reported just before midnight Wednesday, police were called to a location nearby the restaurant where the victim said he had fled two male suspects who made the threat. The victim told police the suspects showed a pistol and told him to leave.

UPDATE: Here is a portion of the SPD report detailing the threats:


The victim told police that he and his friends are from Israel and were talking at their table. As they got up to leave IHOP, they noticed a man sitting in an adjacent booth wearing a “Free Palestine” sweatshirt. According to the police report, the man told officers he thought the sweatshirt was offensive but said he did not say anything to the man as he and his friends left the restaurant before being confronted outside.

Police searched the restaurant and bars in the area but could not locate anybody matching the suspect description but were able to get surveillance video showing the two men.

One suspect was described as an Asian male in his 20s wearing a pink colored jacket. The suspect carrying the gun was described as an unknown race male with black hair, olive complexion, and heavyset. Images show he was wearing a “Free Palestine” sweatshirt, according to police.

There were no reported injuries.

Police are investigating the threats as a hate crime. If you have information that might help the investigation, call 911.

This post has been updated with information from the SPD’s report on the incident.

Jayapal, Inslee, Constantine, and Murray declare Washington a hate-free state

Since Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, hate crimes have been reported throughout the nation, including in Washington state, where a sign at a mosque in Redmond has been vandalized twice in a month. Incidents against LGBTQ and Jewish communities have also been reported.

In an effort to combat discrimination, vandalism, and violence, officials designated Washington State a hate-free zone at a Tuesday press conference, just as elected leaders did following 9/11.

“We stand ready to take on any federal actions that undermine this state as a sanctuary and refuge for all people. Just as we did fifteen years ago, we reaffirm our promise to each other and declare our state, the state of Washington, a hate-free state,” said Congresswoman-elect Pramila Jayapal. Continue reading

22 things CHS heard during the #disarmhate panel at Gay City

IMG_6632Attendees of a panel discussion on curbing gun violence and hate crimes didn’t have to look far beyond the walls of Capitol Hill’s Gay City auditorium to find reasons for the event.

Four shootings on Capitol Hill recently took place in the span of four weeks. A black woman was shot to death in Madison Valley. Days before Capitol Hill’s trans pride event, a transgender person was physically attacked.

“It’s striking that all theses incidents are happening in spaces that are supposed to be safe environments,” said Seattle Urban League CEO Pamela Banks, who moderated the event.

Panelists representing diverse populations around Seattle gathered Thursday to discuss gun violence in their communities. It was perhaps the type of wide ranging, “real conversation” that many politicians often plead for around issues of guns and hate crimes but so rarely happen. Continue reading

Anti-LGBTQ violence prompts self-defense classes in Volunteer Park

9U0A5911Around 20 people gathered in Volunteer Park on Sunday for the first in a series of self-defense classes being offered in the park this summer. The outdoor seminar is free and open to all, but specifically geared towards the LGBTQ community and people of color. With the recent assault of a trans person on Capitol Hill during Pride weighing heavily on the minds of attendees, organizers said the need to prepare for such attacks is an unfortunate reality.

“It really breaks my heart to see violence in this community and I’m just so tired of it,” said instructor Brendan Ng, who organized the class along with two other martial arts practitioners. The fist class was primarily attended by women.

One attendee, who gave her name as Sterling, said that while she has never felt “super, super unsafe” on Capitol Hill, she has been in some dangerous situations and heard about gruesome attacks, such as the anti-trans beating in June, that prompted her to attend the seminar. “I realized, ‘Oh, that could be me,’ and I thought I should learn how to defend myself,” she said. Continue reading

Racist assault reported inside Broadway/Pike Starbucks

Seattle Police are investigating an ugly assault at the Broadway/Pike Starbucks Friday morning as a hate crime.

According to police reports, a man spat on a black man and woman and used racial epithets during an assault inside the coffee shop Friday morning just before 11 AM. The suspect was gone by the time police arrived.

CHS learned about the attack from a blog post by one of its victimsDr. Bob Hughes, an associate dean at Seattle University:

My awareness of the incident, as I later explained it to the officer who took my statement, started with me realizing that my right hand was wet. We were in a Starbucks and there was lots of liquid around. My cortical brain told me that most likely someone spilled something. But then, I heard someone behind me say something that sounded like, “fucking nigger bitch.” My brain needed a new explanation. I turned and realized that a young White man in his early 20s behind me, neatly dressed with short-cropped hair with a dark-colored backpack, was directing this statement to my colleague. As I turned further to face him, he said, “That’s right fucking nigger bitch” again. He walked to the door and walked out. The incident didn’t really register with me, even as he walked out. What had happened? I turned to my colleague and asked if she knew the young man. She had never seen him. He went outside and stood at the window yelling more comments that we could not hear and finally walked away down the street. It was as he stood at the window that my brain started to make sense of things, as I realized that the liquid I initially felt on my hand was his spit. He had spit at my colleague, as it turned out, twice. This young man looked like a thousand other young college students I’ve seen over the years. Clean cut, well dressed. He was also visibly angry. He did not present as mentally disturbed or under the influence of any substances. He directed his anger at my colleague, having never met either of us. He saw two African Americans sitting in a Starbucks and decided that it was okay to assault us.

Dr. Hughes tells CHS that the incident was likely captured on video and that police were provided with access to the surveillance.

But Dr. Hughes confronts a larger issue in his post:

While the society has created hate crime laws and has professed an expectation that this kind of behavior shouldn’t be tolerated, clearly for this young man those weren’t enough discouragements to overcome whatever misogynistic and racial hatred and ignorance fuel him. And, on reflection a few hours after the incident, more than that young man’s actions were disturbing to me.  This was a very public act in a very small space.  Everyone at that café heard the incident and many saw it.  However, only one patron came up after the incident.  That woman apologized to us, saying that this should never happen to anyone, and she offered to be a witness.  Also, the manager came to assist us to clean ourselves and to help file the police report.  Everyone else at the café sat silently or went on with their business.  In a truly post-racial world, that would not be how things work.  In a post-racial world, that kind of violation would mobilize every person in that space to actively resist an assault on two people – an assault that only happened because of our race, and because of the gender of my colleague.

“My guess is that the next time, this young man will be more violent and his next incident will be more brash,” Hughes writes. “Unstopped, antisocial behavior like this escalates. And he lives in a world right now where he felt safe taking these actions. But when incidents like this stop, or people who witness these incidents involve themselves as actors against such acts, then maybe we’ll be moving toward a post-racial world.”

The case remains an open investigation according to SPD.