Last week, King County Sheriff John Urquhart opposed a controversial flier sent to Burien residents. This week, he’s explaining why it was inappropriate that an activist group mapped where alleged illegal immigrants and criminals lived.
“First of all, who says they are undocumented?” Urquhart told the Dori Monson Show. “There is no background to say they are undocumented or not. Second, at least one of the people on there is not a murderer even though he’s listed; in fact, he’s not even a suspect in the crime that occurred.”
“Third, when you publish people’s home addresses, remember this list goes back to 2008, how many people have come in and gone out of that house since 2008, or even recently?” he said. “If the person has been charged and in jail, then there are, presumably, innocent family members there and this puts them at risk.”
“It doesn’t serve any purpose other than to scare people,” he added.
On Monday, King County Executive Dow Constantine and community leaders gathered to denounce what they call an anti-immigrant flier. Respect Washington emailed the flier to about 3,600 Burien residents last Thursday. The flier detailed alleged home addresses of undocumented immigrants and described crimes they committed dating back to 2008. The letter was sent to residents in Burien who signed a petition for a proposition challenging Burien’s status as a sanctuary city.
The sender, Craig Keller with Respect Washington, previously told Dori that everything on the flier has been previously reported, and that the people listed are in jail, not at the addresses he included. Urquhart argues that’s not the whole picture.
“If they had just listed the crime location in Burien, I wouldn’t have a problem with it,” he said. “They are intermixing these between crime location and home address … but when you list somebody’s home address where there could be innocent people living there – like he said, they are in jail or prison – that serves no purpose.”
“Whether it’s a public document or not, that is not the issue,” Urquhart said. “When you compile this altogether, you mail it out to 3,600 people, you are asking for trouble and you are putting the community in a position that scares them even more than they already are.”
KIRO 7 reporter Patrick Quinn spoke with the sender, Craig Keller with Respect Washington, a statewide group looking to end illegal immigration. Keller told Quinn on Friday that Burien residents should know where the individuals live.
The City of Burien has also denounced the flier. Over the weekend, Highline Public Schools released a statement against the letter that also includes four candidates that will “save Burien” in the November 7 election. Keller encouraged petition signers to vote for Debi Wagner, Darla Green, Joel Manning, and Patty Janssen.
“(Those candidates) all denounced this flier,” Urquhart said. “Nobody is on this guy’s side and I think he is really feeling the heat over this.”
“I think Respect Washington people should do everything they can to promote their issue,” he said. “As long as it makes sense and it doesn’t scare people I have no trouble with them speaking out for things they think are important … but I think this was ill advised, it was dangerous. I don’t think it was a good idea.”
KIRO 7 contributed to this report.