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An update from Attorney General Bob Ferguson
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--- NEWS RELEASE ---
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 6, 2019

Attorney General Ferguson launches Hate Crime Working Group, convenes first meeting
More than 700 hate crimes were reported in Washington in 2018

SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s Multidisciplinary Hate Crime Advisory Working Group will hold its first meeting today.

The meeting will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and is open to the public. The meeting will be held in the AGO’s Seattle location at 800 Fifth Ave. in the Chief Sealth Conference Room on the 20th floor.

The working group was created in the 2019 legislative session with the goal of developing strategies to raise awareness of hate crimes and enhance law enforcement and the public’s responses to hate crimes and incidents. The Attorney General’s Office testified in support of the bill, which Representative Javier Valdez, D-Seattle, sponsored.

“In creating this working group, Washington is demonstrating its commitment to the safety of all its residents, regardless of their gender, national origin or religion,” said Ferguson. “Our Hate Crime Advisory Working Group will be taking a hard look at what kind of hate crimes are happening in Washington and how we can strengthen our response and support victims.”

Washington state law defines a hate, or “bias motivated” crime, as a crime or threat against someone because of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation or mental, physical or sensory handicaps.

In 2018, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC), the organization in charge of collecting and reporting on hate crimes, received 765 reports of offenses where the victim was targeted for one of these characteristics.

According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 200,000 people over the age of 12 were victims of hate incidents each year from 2013 to 2017. The bureau estimates that victims or their families only reported about half of those incidents to law enforcement.

Lack of reporting and incomplete data at the federal level make it difficult for Washington law enforcement agencies to understand the full impact that hate crimes have on their communities.

The working group will research and propose best practices on how Washington can increase reporting and strengthen responses from law enforcement and prosecutors. The group also will research how to best support victims of hate crimes.

The Attorney General’s Office must report the working group's recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature by July 1, 2020.

Governor Inslee and the Legislature appointed the 15 working group members. Members come from a variety of backgrounds, including nonprofit organizations, law enforcement and public agencies. Members include:
  • Sen. Jesse Salomon, D-Shoreline
  • Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup
  • Rep. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle
  • Rep. Morgan Irwin, R-Enumclaw
  • Jasmit Singh, Sikh community leader
  • Masih Fouladi, Washington chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA)
  • Maxima Patashnik, Jewish Federation
  • Monisha Harrell, Equal Rights Washington
  • Nina Martinez, Latino Community Fund
  • Detective Elizabeth Wareing, Seattle Police Department
  • Jacqueline Lawrence, Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Laurie Wood, Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Buddy Bear, educator
  • Bre Weider, Attorney General’s Office
More information about the working group’s meeting, including an agenda, can be found here.
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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
 
Contacts:
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov
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