Tuesday 30 December, 2014

OCA Greater Seattle Meets with Mayor Murray and Police Chief

On Thursday, December 18, members of OCA-Greater Seattle and other concerned people attended a meeting with Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle Police Department Chief Kathleen O’Toole at City Hall to discuss the concerns shared by many Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) regarding enforcement of hate crime arrests, the victimization of APIs and APIAs, the need for greater outreach and other issues.

Along with Mayor Murray and Police Chief O’Toole, other Seattle staff in attendance were Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim, Seattle Director of the Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs, Cuc Vu, Director of the Office for Civil Rights, Patty Lally, Sergeant Jay Shin, Lieutenant Michael Kebba, Acting Director of Human Services Department John Okamoto, among others. For OCA-Greater Seattle, Frank Irigon, Felicita Irigon, Connie So, Angelo Salgado, Travis Quezon, Bruce Huang, Eunice How, Dorothy Wong (Executive Director of Chinese Information Services Center), Michael Itti (Commissioner, Washington State Asian American and Pacific Islander Affairs Commission), Tony Vo (former director of the ASUW Asian Students Commission), and Yolanda Eng (Urban Impact and White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Ambassador).

The meeting was prompted by an incident that occurred on September 28, where two white men, from a seventh-story window of an apartment unit on the 4700 block of University Way NE, threw lit cigarettes, beer cans and yelled racial slurs at two Asian women walking on the sidewalk. This incident occurred approximately at 12:20 a.m., but officers did not arrive at the scene until shortly before 3:00 a.m. The incident was initially reported as a hazard incident instead of assault. It received little attention and was only covered by KOMO news. At the subsequent meeting, we learned that the owner of the apartment complex did not want to press charges since the two men were evicted.

The Thursday meeting, lasting just over an hour, addressed some of the following issues:
1) the hiring of culturally competent and/or bilingual officers assigned to the North Precinct to serve the ever growing number of students from Asia and Asian Americans attending the UW;
2) hiring a dedicated staff to work with Asian students or non-students on their rights and how to report hate crimes, assaults, bullying, etc. to the SPD; and
3) jurisdictional issues between the UW campus police and the Seattle Police department. The Mayor and Police Chief also affirmed their commitment to a No Tolerance Policy on Hate Crimes. Officer Kebba reiterated how words can be tools of hate crime.

Among solutions discussed and shared were community outreach classes used effectively by the Seattle Police department on cross-cultural training and seminars that would be taught by the Seattle police on hate crimes – definitions of the crime, reportage and outreach.

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