Today, King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion kicked off a Hate Crimes Public Safety Summit, co-hosted by the Anti-Defamation League of the Pacific Northwest. This event is part of a series of Public Safety Summits that Manion is hosting.
The event brought together more than 50 community members, law enforcement, legislators, and others at South Seattle College.
“The purpose of this week’s Public Safety Summit is to call attention to the impact of hate crimes in King County,” said Leesa Manion, King County Prosecuting Attorney. “When community, law enforcement, prosecutors, and federal partners work together we can take action to decrease the level of hate in our community, improve our collective response to these crimes, and hold people accountable when they act out from a place of hate.”
“At a time of rising hate crimes in King County and nationwide, this pivotal Public Safety Summit served as a space for law enforcement and community leaders to strengthen relationships and identify shared areas of collaboration,” said Miri Cypers, Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League Pacific Northwest. “We’re grateful to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and our many partners for continuing this important work to address hate and improve our policies and systems so that all communities can live in safety and thrive.”
“The FBI is reporting an increase in hate incidents over the last month, and those can be a harbinger of hate crimes. This forum made clear that such crimes will never be tolerated and that federal, state, and local partners will work together to ensure they are prosecuted and deterred,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. “We know the searing images from the conflict in the Middle East are triggering emotions and conflict in our communities here in Western Washington. At this time, it is more important than ever that lines of communication are open and members of our community know how to reach out to law enforcement with concerns.”
In recent years, there have been multiple local high-profile hate crimes; and these crimes have a devastating affect not only on victims and survivors, but on the communities they are a part of.
As part of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office supplemental budget process in 2022, Manion secured support from King County to fund 2 new full-time employee positions (1 deputy prosecutor and 1 paralegal) fully dedicated to the prosecution of hate crimes. The KCPAO’s Deputy Prosecuting Attorney dedicated to hate crimes, Yessenia Manzo, also proactively does community outreach to try and help people know about resources for reporting crimes to police.
Between 2018 and today, the KCPAO office has prosecuted more than 300 hate crimes cases, including 40 active cases. During that time frame, the most common crime type were hate crimes involving anti-race/ethnicity (56%).
Anti-Black were the most common type of anti-race/ethnicity hate crimes (58%), and anti-Asian crimes are the second most common type of anti-race/ethnicity hate crimes (16%).
The second most common type of hate crime cases overall involves anti-sexual orientation (16%).
Last year, King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion backed ESB 5623, which made legislative fixes to the state’s hate crime law. Yessenia also championed the bill by testifying in support.
The bill, signed by the governor on April 6, reclassified hate crimes as a crime against a person and empowered the courts to impose community/therapeutic-treatment (which is a common request of victims/survivors) in addition to jail time.
Further, the bill expanded possible hate crimes to include assaults that do not result in physical injury.