[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]
To the B-Town Blog,
A number of acquaintances have shared with me a letter they got in the mail from a group called Respect Washington. This letter starts out by discussing Prop 1, which called for a vote to withdraw Burien’s Ordinance 651. This ordinance instructed city employees not to ask certain questions about the religion or nationality of people they serve. Voting on Prop 1 was blocked by a judge â€“ meaning that right now, you can do transactions with a city employee and they canâ€™t ask you irrelevant questions about your faith or nationality. You can read the entire history of this issue by searching this blog, so I won’t go into more detail.
The letter implies that if this issue is not put to a vote, it will lead to a surge of criminal behavior. It then lists four candidates who, it says, will save Burien from this crime wave.
I don’t believe or agree with it but it’s a free country and the author of the mailing can make this claim. However, the following page lists names and in some cases home addresses of many individuals that it lists as “Illegal Alien & Gang Criminals In Burien 2008-2017, partial list.”
I am disturbed by all of this.
I find the posting of home addresses irresponsible and wrong. At best, it will create a fear of neighbors that may be ill founded â€“ suppose a crime was committed in 2008 but entirely new people live there now (9 years later!), or innocent people share a home with a listed person. At worst, I hope and pray no one decides to harass or target anyone based on a list that someone they don’t know researched. Or at all for that matter. There is nothing law and order about providing this kind of information.
But that’s not all. This letter serves as a campaign flier for four candidates for City Council: Darla Green, Joel Manning, Debi Wagner and Patty Janssen. These four are running as law and order candidates, but this flier is not about law and order â€“ it’s about fear. Darla, Joel, Debi, Patty â€“ are you ok with listing names of people to potentially target as objects of hate and fear? Have you vetted this list? Do innocent people also live in these addresses? In light of what you know, do you want the group Respect Washington to be part of your campaign? Because they are.
I do not respect ‘Respect Washington’. I encourage anyone still on the fence to do a search, look at the group’s website and decide for themselves. Some will decide as I have – that it is encouraging fear of immigrants, for political gain, focusing on any individual with a criminal history and ignoring the many peaceful and hard working people who want to contribute to the American Dream. Others will decide that it aligns with their beliefs. Either way, be aware that the four candidates above have let this group campaign for them. If you wait for them to repudiate this group, you will probably be too late to cast your ballot.
POSTSCRIPT: King County Sheriff John Urquhart released this statement about this mailing on Thursday, Oct. 26:
“I have been forwarded a letter that lists individuals purported to be undocumented immigrants living in Burien and the crimes they are alleged to have committed, or in some cases just associates of the alleged perpetrators. According to the letter, the listed crimes go all the way back to 2008.
Most concerning, the letter lists the specific home address of these people, even though the person may not still be living at that address. And it makes no distinction about whether the person was ever convicted or not.
Publicly disseminating this type of inflammatory information puts people at risk who likely had no connection to the crime, whether they be family members or new residents of the home.
I find it irresponsible and dangerous to release this type of very dubious information. It puts innocent people at risk for vigilante action and unnecessarily stokes fear in the community.”
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