On Sunday, March 8th, Washington State Senator Pramila Jayapal will be visiting the Hindu Temple Cultural Center in Bothell, Washington to stand in solidarity and show support after a vicious hate crime was committed there in February.
Statement of Senator Jayapal:
On February 15, 2015, the Hindu Temple Cultural Center in Bothell, Washington was spray painted with a swastika and the words “GET OUT.” Just two weeks later, another Hindu temple in Kent, Washington was seriously vandalized. In December 2014, a Muslim cabdriver was beaten, called a terrorist and told to “go back” to his own country. These incidents occur in the context of a growing increase of hate crimes against many diverse communities, right here at home in Washington State as well as across the country.
I am deeply disturbed by these attacks. As an Indian-American immigrant myself and as a long-time activist for civil rights and civil liberties, I understand the tremendous pain, fear and isolation that such attacks cause in our communities. As a state Senator representing one of the most diverse legislative districts in the state, and as the first Indian-American to be elected to the Washington state legislature, I feel even more responsibility to speak out clearly against such attacks and ensure that we are doing everything in our power to prevent them and bring perpetrators to justice.
Washington has always prided itself on being a state that is welcoming to numerous diverse cultures, religions, races and backgrounds. Regardless of who you are, what faith you practice, or what color your skin is, we believe that every person deserves respect. Every person’s voice matters. That is the great tradition of the state of our state.
Fourteen years ago, immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001 and facing numerous hate crimes against Sikh Americans, Muslim Americans, Arab Americans and others, I was proud to start what was then a fledgling organization called “Hate Free Zone Washington” to reject this kind of divisiveness and put forward a positive vision of our state as a welcoming place for all people. We did education within our schools and communities on Sikh, Muslim, Somali and Arab communities. We organized community members and elected officials to speak out and protect the rights and safety of all communities. We worked to pass stronger laws that ensured the protection and inclusion of diverse communities. Hate Free Zone Washington later changed its name to OneAmerica, and grew to be one of the largest advocacy organizations for the rights of immigrants across the state. Over the twelve years that I served as Executive Director and still today, the diverse coalition that has supported the work of OneAmerica serves as a strong reminder that we can and must do better as a state.
However, the continued hate crimes show us that while we have done much good work together, we have a long way to go. Every single one of us has a responsibility to continue to educate and organize. Hate crimes and discrimination are no more acceptable today than they were fourteen years ago when we stood together and confronted these kinds of attacks.
I want every person in Washington State, including at the locations that were vandalized and attacked, to know that we stand in complete support of each of your communities. I believe strongly that we must use these terrible incidents to reiterate and grow our strength as communities united for a prosperous and just society that is safe and welcoming to all. I stand committed to doing just that.
I will continue to work with all levels of state government, with our targeted communities and with the broader population at large to help educate, organize and support our vision of a state that welcomes and thrives with all types of diversity.
State Senator Pramila Jayapal