Rice, Citizens Groups Join To Declare Seattle Won't Tolerate Hate Crimes

Representatives of Seattle Mayor Norm Rice and a dozen black, gay, lesbian, Christian, Jewish, civil-rights, women's, labor and anti-hate groups declared yesterday that the community will not tolerate hate crimes.

The declaration was spurred by FBI arrests earlier this week of three Idaho men charged with conspiring to bomb a gay bar in Seattle, a Tacoma bar frequented by blacks, several Korean establishments in Pierce County and a synagogue in Seattle.

Authorities said the three were associated with the Church of Jesus Christ Christian - better known as the Aryan Nations - the Hayden Lake, Idaho, group of 72-year-old Richard Butler.

Rice, in a statement read by Ann Levinson, his deputy chief of staff, declared, ``These acts simply must not be tolerated.''

The mayor said 53 cases of malicious harassment were reported in Seattle the past year, including 19 of sexual harassment.

Rice called on the city to lobby vigorously for the Legislature to approve a state Hate Crime Statistics Bill, similar to the one approved last year by Congress, and said he is asking Seattle police to collect the local data. The bill died in the state Senate this year.

George Bakan, editor of the Seattle Gay News, said now is the time to act against ``right-wing promoters of hate.''

Bakan, too, urged legislative approval of the hate-crime reporting bill; a ``no'' vote on Initiative 35, the measure aimed at revoking the city's domestic-partnership ordinance, which extends sick leave and funeral leave to the partners of unmarried city workers; and support for efforts in Tacoma to ensure the rights of gays and lesbians.

Since many hate crimes are unreported, Rudy Ryser of the Puget Sound Task Force on Human Rights said his group is planning four public hearings asking citizens to expose hate crimes. The findings will be made available to the mayor, governor ``and all citizens,'' he said.

The FBI was both praised and criticized during the news conference.

Dan Bickford, executive secretary-treasurer of the King County Labor Council, said credit should go to the FBI ``for averting a major tragedy.''

But Guerry Hoddersen of the United Front Against Fascism said the FBI should have warned the targets earlier. ``I don't consider the FBI a friend of the civil-rights movement,'' she said.

The anti-fascism group plans to join Spokane's Citizens for Nonviolent Action Against Racism, in its next march July 15 to protest the national meeting of Butler's group in Idaho, Hoddersen said.