Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta said in a Facebook post Sunday that he was physically assaulted at the Olde Burien Block Party on Saturday because he is Latino and that he supports Burien as a ‘sanctuary city.’ The incident happened in the 900 block of SW 152nd Street at around 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 21. Matta told The B-Town Blog Monday morning that he suffered a scratch on his arm after being attacked – both verbally and physically – from behind by an older white man who he has talked with before. Matta said the suspect blindsided him, grabbing him by the neck, then spitting on and yelling at him as he pushed him down to the ground. He filed a police report and plans to press charges. Matta is the City’s first Latino Mayor in the City’s 25-year history, and was elected to the City Council in Nov., 2017. The Hispanic population of Burien is estimated by the city to be between 21-25 percent. “I was physically assaulted, and verbally threatened by a male who was upset because Burien is a Sanctuary City, and I am a latino male Mayor,” Matta said. “I will not tolerate being threatened by anyone. You have the right to vote and voice your concerns, however when you put your hands on me. I will press charges on you, and have our legal system take care of you. We have no room for hate or violence in our community. I don’t care what color or nationality you come from. When your behavior is violent you need to be prosecuted and locked up!!!!!” Matta plans to hold a press conference at City Hall at 2 p.m. on Monday, July 23. The City of Burien released this info in a press release sent out at 11:50 a.m.:

Today at 2 p.m., City of Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta will hold a press conference regarding the verbal and physical assault that occurred against him this weekend. On Saturday, July 21, Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta was physically and verbally assaulted while attending the Olde Burien Block Party in downtown Burien. Mayor Matta was grabbed by the neck from behind and pushed to the ground by an older white man. The suspect is alleged to have been upset with Ordinance 651, which states City and Police personnel will not inquire or collect information about a person’s immigration status or religion. The suspect also has been alleged to have taken issue of Mayor Matta’s Latin heritage. Matta is the first Latino Mayor in the City of Burien’s 25-year history. Immediately following the incident, Mayor Matta reported the assault to Burien police officers who were present at the event. Burien Police have initiated an assault/hate crime investigation. The investigation is ongoing. Chief Ted Boe will provide a briefing regarding the status of the investigation including efforts to identify the suspect during this press conference.
We spoke with Matta on the phone Monday morning (July 23), and here’s what he added:
“I’ve seen and talked to this guy before, and I knew that he didn’t like me. Out of the blue, he attacked me from behind, spat on me and told me I have blood on my hands for supporting Burien as a sanctuary city.” “After the attack I told him to stop. The man then threatened me and said ‘mess with me and I’ll kill you and your illegals’ and ‘we’re not going to let illegals take over this town.’ He also said he plans to run against me in the next election.” “I can’t help how I was born, the color of my skin, or the language I speak. But I am an American, and am now the Mayor. If I don’t stand up to this I am letting my community down.” “Being an elected official and person of color – it’s got its plus and minuses. I have to face individuals who judge me by the color of my skin or the language I speak, but I base my decisions on what I think is right.”
UPDATE July 23 11:45 a.m.: The King County Sheriff’s Office/Burien P.D. is investigating this incident, which it considers a Hate Crime. Matta added:
“America covers many nationalities, and our flag has been swaying with the wind protected by people from many backgrounds and ethnicities. This land is your land and this land is my land…….”

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.