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Seattle Police Department asks public to help ID suspect in anti-Asian assault case, encounters rise in bias incidents

The Seattle Police Department is asking for the public to help identify a man who reportedly attacked an Asian couple in downtown Seattle, Washington on Saturday, reports KIRO7

Police say that the couple was walking on Virginia Avenue between 4th and 5th streets around 4:15 PM on May 16th when the male suspect approached them, shoved the male victim and slapped at his face mask, knocking off his glasses. The location has been corrected from the initial report that said the incident happened near 3rd Avenue and Stewart Street. 

The male suspect reportedly told the Asian couple “it’s all your fault” and then spat on the male victim and fled the scene.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Bias Crimes Unit at 206-233-5000.

According to the Seattle Police Department, this was the seventh report of a bias incident against Asian Americans since March 10. 

Police are also investigating another bias incident which AsAmNews first reported on Saturday that occurred when a victim experienced verbal harassment in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.

However, Kert Lin, the victim of Tuesday’s harassment, told AsAmNews that he felt dismissed by the staff at Home Depot and the Seattle police officer who came to the scene after calling 911. 

Lin said he was cut off by a driver on the way to the store and after they both arrived in the parking lot, the driver who had cut him off called him a racial slur and said “open your eyes, go back to China.” 

Lin added that the driver “goaded him to get out of his car as Lin called 911.” After being dismissed by the Home Depot manager on duty who reportedly said there was nothing to be done because “we do not control what others do,” a Seattle police officer who had arrived told him that because he had not been physically threatened, no crime had taken place. 

Margaret Smith, a spokeswoman at Home Depot’s headquarters office in Atlanta said to AsAmNews “We would never condone these types of comments. We’re discussing this with our security partners to reinforce our values and the importance of working with local law enforcement when incidents like this arise between customers. Our management would have done more but unfortunately we didn’t have the other customer’s information for follow up.”

The Seattle Police Department also released a statement on the incident on Saturday. 

“The Seattle Police Department regards reports of bias incidents and crimes with the utmost seriousness,” the statement read. “In recent years the Department has worked diligently with our Asian American community to develop their trust in reporting bias crimes to the police.

“The incident has been documented in a report and forwarded to the Bias Crimes Coordinator for further investigation,” the statement continued. “The incident in its entirety, has been forwarded to the Office of Police Accountability for further review.

Teresita Batayola, President and CEO of International Community Health Services (ICHS), told KIRO 7 that incidents of anti-Asian hostility are likely underreported.

“It’s always a gut punch to hear. Anytime there’s xenophobia, racism,” Batayola said. “I definitely believe the numbers are much higher than what’s been reported. People are really nervous and afraid.”

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