‘What took you so long?’: Advocates respond to Spokane Co prosecutor’s public apology surrounding wife’s racist comments online

SPOKANE, Wash. –  It’s been two weeks since an article by the Inlander shed light on the Spokane County prosecutor’s wife’s racist comments. Friday, Larry Haskell held a press conference to apologize and address claims made against his office.

Uncovered by the Inlander, Larry Haskell’s wife Lesley said comments such as, “White people need to start having more babies,” and even used the n-word in another comment.

On Friday, Haskell said his wife’s comments were racist but he does not believe she is racist herself.

“I can understand anybody who doesn’t know her, would say, ‘Oh, that’s a racist.’ I’ve got 30 years on top of those posts that I’ve known her since she was in her late 20s. She is not a racist, but the comments were racist,” Haskell said.

Spokane NAACP Vice President Kurtis Robinson says it’s “tough.”

“Because we can’t tell people who to love, right? We should never really do that, but I think it says a lot, especially when we have a person of his power and influence that is married to someone, that under any, any clear examination is openly racist. That says a lot,” Robinson said.

Haskell said he’s had numerous conversations with his wife regarding her comments. However, he maintains that those are her views and hers alone. He’s now dealing with the aftermath. His office is accused of not handling cases properly due to racism because of his wife’s comments. Haskell said his staff, and himself, are going through “measurable pain.”

“I don’t live that way, and I don’t practice that way, and I wouldn’t tolerate it in my office and they wouldn’t tolerate being there if we were doing that,” he said.

Haskell addressed the public Friday, but the Inlander article came out two weeks ago. While he did issue an apology online back in January, this is the first time he’s said anything in person.

“What took you so long? Because it’s not like this is new behavior with his wife, like this is new information that’s put out there,” Robinson said. “And, it was only eventually, that he got called out so many times before he started saying anything about it.”

Robinson also wants Haskell to give data, as the prosecutor says he has a diverse staff so they couldn’t be “complicit in racist behavior.”

“If you’re not doing all these things and your office is not operating this way, then this is beyond the time to show it. Now’s the moment,” Robinson said.

Haskell said human resources would provide that information if they could.

As for moving forward, Robinson said it’s important to maintain a “restorative mindset.” He believes a public conversation needs to be had with Haskell about his wife’s comments.

“Let’s have the mindset of finding solutions instead of continuing to circle the mountain on some issues that should’ve been resolved a long time ago here,” Robinson said.

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