State Sen. Claudia Kauffman, of Kent, joined the rest of the Senate Democrats’ Members of Color Caucus to issue a statement in response to rising hate, expressing concern about the far-reaching effects of escalating tensions and conflicts across the world.
The other Members of Color Caucus include Sens. Manka Dhingra, Redmond; Bob Hasegawa, Seattle; John Lovick, Mill Creek; Joe Nguyen, White Center; Javier Valdez, Seattle; T’wina Nobles, Fircrest; Emily Randall, Bremerton; Rebecca Saldaña, Seattle; and Yasmin Trudeau, Tacoma. Trudeau is the chair while Kauffman and Valdez are vice chairs.
The statement, according to a Nov. 20 media release from the Washington State Senate Democrats:
“In recent weeks, our hearts have grown heavy witnessing devastating violence and conflict, which have deeply affected members of our community. The ripple effect of this international conflict has been felt in Washington state, leading to a troubling rise in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
“As members of the Washington State Senate Members of Color Caucus, we stand with our constituents of all backgrounds and ask for grace and care for our Muslim and Jewish neighbors, especially those with family and connections in Palestine and Israel. We believe that meaningful change starts at home. While we may not directly influence international conflicts, we stand together to combat the hatred, fear, and prejudice within our own communities.
“We also want to remind those who do not stand with us that hate toward any person of any religious background or national origin is not only morally wrong but is against the law in Washington state. The Washington State Legislature has taken significant steps to increase safety and deepen support for those affected by hate crimes and bias incidents. We offer these resources in this statement to ensure that people can seek the justice and support they need.
“We encourage our communities to report hate crime incidents to law enforcement and pursue available legal relief. This is why, in 2019, we increased maximum damages in civil actions for hate crime offenses and broadened the scope of hate crime laws.
“We encourage open and thoughtful dialogue in efforts to seek restorative justice and opportunities for the community to work on healing and continue to support programs that serve this end. This includes funding specifically to explore where we can expand these programs in response to hate crimes.
“We encourage our community to follow Senate Bill 5427, which was introduced last year but has not yet passed, in the upcoming legislative session. This bill aims to develop a hate crimes hotline to ensure that we have opportunities for healing, justice, and accountability that go beyond law enforcement involvement.
“The Members of Color Caucus recognizes that we must stand against violence wielded toward any member of our community and that we must hold gracious space for those who are fearful of speaking up and speaking out against oppression and violence in all forms. Ultimately, we remain dedicated to our mission of fostering a safer, more diverse, and more inclusive state. We will continue to do what we can in our scope of work to promote legislation that combats hate crimes and protects the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for every Washingtonian.”