Gov. Inslee, local leaders speak out against ‘horrendous surge’ in violence against Asian-Americans
Gov. Jay Inslee was joined Monday by a handful of local community leaders in Renton to speak out against a recent increase of violence against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, in Washington state and across the country.
Inslee detailed what he called a “horrendous surge” of violence, singling out the Trump administration for its frequent labeling of COVID-19 as the “China virus.”
“We are affected by what we say — that has an impact,” he said. “And, unfortunately, some people allowed the President of the United States to fan the flames of hatred against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders for years, and people did not stand up against it.”
The governor went on to note that while there isn’t currently any legislation pending to address the rise in violence against the state’s Asian-American communities, there have already been discussions about a “centralized way to collect information about harassment complaints, even without reporting a crime.”
King County Executive Dow Constantine also spoke to announce his intent to use federal money from the American Rescue Plan to distribute $5 million in grants to “community-based organizations to increase funding for anti-hate bias response.”
“Through education and visibility, we can help deter that violence and that hate,” Constantine said. “We want people to be able to understand how to join in the battle against racism through a public health approach.”
Also joining the governor on Monday was Inglemoor High School educator Noriko Nasu, who recounted being attacked while in Seattle’s Chinatown neighborhood in late February, which left her with fractures in her nose and cheek, broken teeth, and a concussion.
Nasu levied criticism against a legal system that isn’t categorizing the attack as a hate crime, describing how she felt “as if I was abused twice.”
“First by the attacker, and second by the legal system,” she clarified. “Does the legal system have any real interest in protecting the Asian-American community from hate crimes? I do not think so, and I am not the only one.”
No specific plans were announced Monday to address legal recourse for victims of alleged hate crimes, but Gov. Inslee did note that prosecutors may have to begin rethinking their collective approaches.
“Obviously this is an understandable concern, particularly given this wave of violence,” he said. “We have to understand that when you think about prosecutorial decisions around hate crimes, that for years, the ground has been sown for hate. Frankly, we’re going to have to be on high alert against this hatred for years.”