King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn on Thursday reintroduced legislation that would begin to establish a county-wide hate crime reporting system along with an awareness campaign to tackle both a rise in reported and unreported hate crimes in King County.
According to the Washington State Legislature, a person is guilty of a hate crime offense if “he or she maliciously and intentionally commits one of the following acts because of his or her perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, or mental, physical, or sensory disability.”
The renewed effort comes after months of conversations with community partners, like the King County Coalition Against Hate and Bias, to ensure the legislation meets the needs of the communities it is aimed to serve.
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Since 2020, King County has seen elevated incidents of hate and bias. According to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, 92 cases were filed involving hate crimes in that time period — still higher than the pre-COVID average. Yet, these numbers often do not accurately detail hate and bias incidents occurring in the community. Studies have shown that many of these incidents go unreported. The King County Coalition Against Hate and Bias has sadly recorded 542 incidents since its formation in the middle of 2020, collected through its Hate and Bias Incident Response Survey.
If Dunn’s legislation is approved, the County would convene a workgroup to develop a plan to expand a community-based Stop Hate Hotline to include telephone and web-based online portals for reporting hate crimes and hate incidents. In addition, the plan would include both incident reporting requirements for data collection purposes and an attendant public awareness campaign. The workgroup would include staff from the Department of Community and Human Services, Public Health – Seattle & King County, the prosecutor’s office, the sheriff’s office, and representatives from the King County Coalition Against Hate and Bias.
The legislation will be heard in the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee in the coming weeks.
The above is a press release from King County Councilmember Regan Dunn. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents and encourages our readers to personally verify any information they find may be overly biased or questionable. The publication of this press release does not indicate an endorsement of its content.