Mayor Durkan Issues New Executive Order to Combat Rise of Hate Crimes and Crimes of Bias in Seattle

Recommended by City Auditor, Executive Order Requires More Robust Data Sharing
to Evaluate Trends and Responses to Hate Crimes

Seattle (February 25, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today
signed a new Executive
to combat hate crimes and crimes of bias in Seattle. To address this
rise and help implement recommendations made by the City Auditor, the Mayor’s
Executive Order requires more transparent and robust data sharing on hate
crimes, and establishes new grant programs to fund community-based
organizations conducting work to prevent hate crimes from occurring in the
first place. 

“Today we mark an
important moment in our work to build a better, more just Seattle. With this
Executive Order, we’re taking steps to combat the rise of hate crimes and
ensure we’re meeting the needs of our most vulnerable communities,” said Mayor
Durkan. “We know that our city is not immune to the rising levels of toxicity
and hate in our country. But in Seattle, we know we can and must do better. We
are leading with equity and a commitment to learn how the City can address the
root causes of hate violence and make our city safer for our most vulnerable

“As hate crimes have
risen across the country, we’ve seen the number of reported hate crimes also
rise in Seattle, especially among African Americans, the LGBTQ+ community, and
our Jewish and Muslim neighbors. Individuals and organizations from affected
communities have asked the City to respond, but under current city law, there
are limitations to the types of hate crimes the City can prosecute,” said
Councilmember Lisa Herbold
(District 1 – West Seattle, South Park). “Every person deserves to feel safe,
free from harassment, and respected in Seattle. As elected leaders, it’s our
responsibility to take action, respond to hate crimes, and prevent future hate
and bias crimes from happening. I’m pleased Mayor Durkan, with the guidance of
an experienced and diverse working group, will review the city’s hate crime
prosecution practices, emphasizing alternative programs that change the ‘hearts
and minds’ of those committing the crimes.”

A 2019 report by the City
Auditor found that from 2012 to 2019 in Seattle, reports of hate crimes
increased by 400 percent. In addition, the report found that African Americans,
LGBTQ+ individuals, and Jewish and Muslim communities were most severely
impacted by this increase. The report also found that community-based
organizations who work with historically marginalized communities sought more
robust education, data-sharing and prevention efforts from the City.

The Mayor’s Executive
does three key things to implement the report’s recommendations and
combat the rise of hate crimes:

  1. It
    establishes a Hate Crimes and Crimes of Bias work group, led by the Office
    of the Employee Ombud and supported by the Office for Civil Rights, that
    will work across departments and with community-based organizations to evaluate current City policies and practices as they
    relate to hate crimes. In addition, the work group will identify ways that
    City employees can be engaged in this work, including potential
    initiatives like bystander training for public-facing employees.
  2. It
    requires the work group to develop recommendations on how the City can
    improve data sharing between relevant City departments, like the Seattle
    Police Department and the Office for Civil Rights and community-based
    organizations. To ensure accountability and transparency, annual reports
    on this data will be shared with the Mayor, City Council, and the LGBTQ,
    Human Rights, Women’s, DisAbilities, Immigrant and Refugee, and Community
    Police Commissions.
  3. Based
    on recommendations from the work group, the Mayor’s Office and the Office
    for Civil Rights will establish a pilot grants program to support
    community safety initiatives aimed at preventing hate crimes. Grants will
    be made available to the public in fall of 2020.

Final recommendations on how to improve City policies and practices regarding hate crimes are due to the Mayor by October 1, 2020.