‘Racism is still running rampant’: Inslee denounces hate as anti-Asian hate crimes rise

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OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Jay Inslee released a statement Tuesday denouncing racism and hate in response to increasing and escalating acts of violence targeting Asians and Asian-Americans.

“Washington is a place where all people should feel safe and included,” Inslee said. “This is a welcoming state and I have a zero-tolerance policy for hate and racism. We must condemn the acts of hate and violence displayed in the rising incidence of anti-Asian hate crimes in both Washington state and across the country. This is wholly unacceptable and must not stand.”

A study from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernadino shows the total number of hate crimes is down in 16 of America’s largest cities. However, hate crimes targeting Asian people increased by 150 percent.

New York City and Los Angeles saw the most incidences of anti-Asian hate crimes, but Seattle also saw an increase in these crimes between 2019 and 2020. Twelve cases targeting Asians were recorded in Seattle this past year.

“We saw this ugly trend surge a year ago, when COVID-19 first emerged in our state. One year later, we have a vaccine for the virus – but racism is still running rampant,” Inslee said. “Victims deserve support and justice. There are systems in place to ensure offenders face consequences for their unconscionable actions. I encourage victims to come forward and report their experience to local law enforcement.”

Victims of hate crimes are encouraged to contact 911 once they are in a safe place. Here is a list of other ways to report crimes:

In Washington, hate crimes are considered a class C felony and carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.

“I stand in solidarity with members of the Asian community who continue to experience fear and intimidation,” Inslee said. “They deserve better, and we must do everything in our power to make their safety and security a priority and to eliminate racism in Washington.”