March 8, 2017
GOP Rep. Mark Hargrove and his less-than-enlightened stance on hate crimes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 8, 2017
Last Friday March 3rd, Deep Rai, a Sikh man and U.S. citizen, was working on his car in his driveway in Kent when a masked man walked up, told him to “go back to your country” and shot him. The shooting is being investigated as a hate crime. Many local leaders voiced concern that the shooting was encouraged by xenophobic rhetoric towards immigrants coming from the administration of Donald Trump and his Congressional Republican allies.
But not Representative Mark Hargrove. Hargrove, a Republican who represents the 47th Legislative District in the Washington State Legislature including areas of Kent, reacted differently on his Facebook page to the shooting. Hargrove said that hate crimes were “a new phenomenon in the United States” and criticized legislation that targets hate crimes as “regulating thought and emotion.” He further stated that he didn’t “get” the need to condemn the crime and that expressing support for the victim and the Sikh community could be seen as “political.”
It’s past time to educate Hargrove on what a hate crime is. A hate crime is a prejudice-motivated crime, which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of their membership (or perceived membership) in a certain group, like their ethnicity, religion, nationality, disability, gender or gender identity or sexual orientation.
Law enforcement has investigated hate crimes as far back as World War I, with increasing enforcement activities following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, which gave the FBI authority to investigate violent hate crimes.
In Washington State, hate crime statutes have been in effect since 1981, with 324 hate crimes reported in 2015 alone, the most recent year for which there is complete data.
Hargrove’s statement is linked here, and copied and screenshot below.
Hargrove wrote “You certainly are persistent, Manmeet Dhami. Okay, I'll explain. "Hate crimes" are a new phenomenon in the United States. Until recently, our laws regulated behavior or actions, not emotions. These laws have started us down the slippery slope of regulating thought and emotion, which we see more and more. The act should be the crime, not the emotion behind it. Secondly, I'm still new enough to this idea of being a politician that I don't get the need to "condemn" a crime. I would imagine that nearly everyone in our community finds this crime despicable. It seems too political to make a public "condemnation" statement, when all of my neighbors are already shocked and horrified by it. Any statement by me is more likely to just draw attention to me than it is to prevent any future crime.”
If Mark Hargrove is not willing to stand up and condemn the hate-based shooting of a man in his own driveway, that what IS he willing to take a stand on?
“Hargrove’s statement is thoughtless and offensive and wrong in so many ways,” said Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski. “When someone is clearly motivated by hate and xenophobia, like this shooter, we need to come together and stand up for those most under threat. Our Sikh brothers and sisters need our support and action, and clear rejection of this act by our elected officials. GOP Rep. Hargrove is both wildly out of touch with his community, and with common human decency. His constituents, and the people of Washington, deserve better.”