Seattle, FBI investigating anti-Semitic threats against council candidate Ari Hoffman

Jun 12, 2019, 5:05 PM | Updated: 5:18 pm
ari hoffman, anti-Semitism...
Former Seattle City Council candidate Ari Hoffman and his wife. (Courtesy of Ari Hoffman)
(Courtesy of Ari Hoffman)

The FBI and Seattle police are investigating online threats against Seattle City Council candidate Ari Hoffman.

Hoffman is running for the District 2 seat in South Seattle. He says that detectives got in touch with him after discovering his family’s photo online along with commenters suggesting he should be killed.

Hoffman says that investigators initially contacted him after finding comments on the website 8chan, commonly used for message boards.

“They had some threats against me on there and threats against my family,” Hoffman told The Saul Spady Show on KTTH.

“There are some pretty serious anti-Semitic language using the k-word and a few other things on there, specifically targeting my kids and this is a scary thing,” he said. “This is pretty horrifying.”

Hate crimes dramatically rise in Washington state

Hoffman has now being offered police protection at public events.

It’s not the first contact that Hoffman has had with police since his council campaign began. He previously called 911 after his campaign signs were stolen across the city. He argues that while many in Seattle claim to be accepting and tolerant of different ethinicities, people behave differently when it comes to ideology.

Ideology, Hoffman says, has become toxic in Seattle. That has become evident.

“It seems like it’s its own religion these days, political ideology,” “It’s replaced religion for some people and they treat this as that kind of fight, like a holy war fight … as opposed to having the actual conversations.”

“Sign stealing is childish, it’s silly and it happens and it’s unfortunate … But you have to remember that my community, the Jewish community in Seward Park, has never really been politically active before. This is the first time these people have had signs. They didn’t grow up with this kind of stuff. And when yard signs disappear from 30 houses in one night, 29 of them from Jewish families, people get freaked out and wonder if they are being targeted … that’s scary for some of them.”

Hoffman says that one woman has video of the person taking the signs, removing them from a yard and putting them in their car.

“Nobody is stealing the other people’s yard signs, that is not something anybody is doing …. what’s sad to me is that it seems that nobody wants to discuss that anti-Semitism that is going on. It seems that nobody wants to discuss the hate that is going on. Yet at every forum I go to I get asked a question on race relations, and people don’t want to discuss this. That’s disappointing because if we don’t discuss these things, things are never going to get better.”

Sugarcoating white supremacy in Washington state
Washington’s history of white supremacist activity

Ari Hoffman is not the first Seattle council candidate affected by threats. Chris Rufo was previously running for District 6 in Ballard. He says he dropped out after his wife was targeted with online threats that were racist and sexually violent in nature. His kids were also targeted with threats via comments on their school’s social media accounts. Two months after starting his council campaign, Rufo sent supporters an email in November 2018 stating:

I had hoped that this would be a campaign of ideas, but I quickly discovered that the activists in this city have no interest in ideas. Since the campaign launch, they have harassed and threatened my family nonstop. I was prepared to take the heat, but unfortunately, they have focused their hatred on my wife and children. They’ve made vile racist attacks against my wife, attempted to get her fired from Microsoft, and threatened sexual violence. They have even posted hateful messages to my 8-year-old son’s school Facebook page. I know that as the race progresses, the activists will ratchet up their hate-machine and these attacks will intensify significantly.

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Seattle, FBI investigating anti-Semitic threats against council candidate Ari Hoffman