Olympia - September 14, 2001 - Washington's Attorney General and leaders of state police and prosecutor's associations today urged citizens to refrain from acts of racial or religious harassment in the wake of this week's terrorist attacks.
Attorney General Christine Gregoire was joined by Kittitas County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Zempel and Whatcom County Sheriff Dale Brandland in deploring the scattered threats and acts of vandalism that have been committed against members of the Muslim faith and religious buildings in Washington state since the attacks occurred in New York City and Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
"We need to hold those who committed these horrendous acts accountable," Gregoire said. We should, however, remember the lessons our country learned in the early days of World War II and resist the temptation to condemn an entire group for the acts of a few."
Gregoire added, "People of all races and faiths share feelings of pain and anger over this week's events on the East Coast. As Americans, we should be devoting our energies to supporting one another rather than singling out whole groups to blame for this tragedy."
"Threats and violence committed against people on account of their religion or race is a crime in this state, and we stand ready to enforce the law," said Zempel, president of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
"The emotions generated by this week's events do not excuse acts of harassment against innocent people," said Brandland, president of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. "We will do whatever is required to investigate hate crimes and ensure that people's lives and property are protected."
Under the state's malicious harassment law, it is a felony to maliciously and intentionally threaten, injure or damage the property of a person based on his or her race, color, religion, ancestry, or other factors. In addition to the criminal statute, state law specifically allows victims of malicious harassment to sue their harassers for damages.