Flanked by Gov. Jay Inslee, Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke talks about the importance of including immigrants in the community during a news conference at Kent’s Centennial Center on Thursday. Inslee visited Kent for a roundtable discussion on hate crimes. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

‘We are better than fear’

Gov. Inslee, interfaith community gather to find ways to address hate crimes

Reported hate crimes in communities and bullying episodes at schools targeting minorities are on the rise in the state, and Gov. Jay Inslee vows to deal with the disturbing trend.

Inslee and his entourage visited Kent on Thursday to huddle with concerned interfaith and neighborhood leaders for a roundtable discussion on hate crimes. He left the meeting encouraged that steps are being taken to build community relationships, increase dialogue and embrace inclusion. He assured ethnic group leaders that local and state authorities stand to do more in responding to the increased reports of hate crimes, harassment and other discriminatory actions.

“We’ve seen a rise of fear-based and hate-based incidents in our state. And those incidents are a stain on our state. They are unacceptable in our state,” Inslee said at an impromptu news conference in the hallway of Kent’s Centennial Center building across from City Hall. “The Evergreen State is better than bullying. We are better than harassment and we are better than fear.

“We know in our state whether you are a Muslim or a Lutheran, a Jew or a LGBTQ member, a Sikh or a Catholic, or a person of Hispanic heritage … whatever you are, you are a Washingtonian,” Inslee said, “and Washingtonians deserve respect and compassion and just a little bit of love on occasion.”

According to the FBI, incidents of hate have been directed against transgender women, Jews, African Americana, Hispanics, Muslims, Hindu Americans, Sikh Americans and others in recent months. Incidents have taken place from New York and Florida to California and Washington state.

Seattle alone reported more hate crimes than 33 states in 2015, the FBI said.

Kent stepped into the national spotlight when a Sikh man was shot and injured in front of his East Hill home on March 3. The case, in which Kent Police and the FBI are investigating as a hate crime, remains unsolved.

Inslee emphasized the importance for all groups to maintain a good, working relationship with law enforcement. He urged residents of all races to step forward and report hate crimes or acts of harassment and discrimination. Victims and witnesses should not be afraid, should not be silent, he said.

“We need to inspire each other to all be leaders, not just governors, not just legislators, but all to be leaders in the fight against hate,” Inslee said.

Bullying a big problem

Inslee came away from the gathering briefed on a more acute problem – bullying at schools.

He acknowledges school districts – parents, educators and students – need to better report, respond and understand such incidents.

“We need to up our game in educating our children that bullying is not acceptable, that giving into fear and hate is not acceptable,” Inslee said, “and we need more work to support our teachers and our principals in that effort.”

Jasmin Samy, civil rights manager for the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Washington chapter, said bullying cases go largely under-reported because victims and witnesses feel they may face retaliation or become isolated if they say something.

“We need to empower people to speak up,” she said.

Other remarks

• The governor warned President Donald Trump and his administration not “to debilitate and degrade” local law enforcement in how it acts against hate crimes, and opposes having local police become “mini immigration officials.”

• Inslee lauded Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke and the city’s efforts for being a leader in welcoming refugees. He challenged the Trump administration to do the same, especially in the wake of the Syrian crisis in which families and children have been killed and injured in the war-torn country.

“We know that refugees can add to our community. They are doing it in Kent. Mayor Cooke has demonstrated why and how you can have a beautiful community that’s vibrant by having refugees,” Inslee said. “So we would ask the president that if he wants to show a drop of humanity, allow these beautiful (Syrian) children to come as refugees into our state. Don’t drop the door on them as he had.”

• Inslee is open to the creation of a national task force to combat hate crimes, adding, “If such a commission could get the president to be more in touch with humanity and less in touch with his instincts to divide us, that could be a good thing.”

But Inslee said the state isn’t going to wait on a national commission to act. He wants local results now. “We’ve got some good ideas to chew on that will help us,” he said.

More in News

Paraeducators and Office Professionals gather at Hazen High School to vote on a strike. Photo courtesy of SEIU Local 925
Issaquah School District disagrees with district office personnel and paraeducators unions

ISD office personnel and paraeducators file grievance against district.

Photo by Wayne Henry Swan.
                                The windstorm hit a neighborhood in Briarwood hard. Trees were down all around the area, one hitting a very unlucky truck.
City and residents respond to windstorm

The windstorm Sunday, Jan. 6, left some without power for several days. Others fought fallen trees.

COURTESY PHOTO, Washington State Senate
                                Sen. Mona Das, D-Covington, right, is sworn into the Washington State Senate by State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst on Monday.
Das sworn in as senator for 47th District

‘I am truly honored that the voters … have put their trust in me’

Exit poll indicates Washington voters still support climate change action

State environmental organizations’ poll points to continuing support for carbon-reducing measures.

Attendees gather after the Dec. 21, 2018, meeting at Seattle’s Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center.
Washington indigenous communities push for action to address violence against women

A new law seeks to strength data collection on missing and murdered indigenous women.

Voter registration deadline Jan. 14 for Special Election

The special election includes Renton School District ballot measures

Renton toddlers graduate Kindering, and more community news…

Nominate an outstanding Renton woman The Renton Business & Professional Women Organization… Continue reading

Charles Pillon sits inside one of the several buses on Iron Mountain. Photo by Caean Couto
                                <em>Photo originally published <a href="http://www.rentonreporter.com/news/the-last-days-of-iron-mountain/" target="_blank">here</a></em>
Federal lawsuit filed to finish cleanup of Iron Mountain

The EPA has filed a lawsuit to extend their cleanup warrant after the owner denied further access

Construction closes Coulon deck, and more community news

Film screening coming to Renton Library The Renton Library will be hosting… Continue reading

Most Read