By Ruth Bayang
Northwest Asian Weekly
The King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) agreed to pay $5 million for the June 14, 2017 shooting death of Tommy Le. The settlement was reached less than a month before the civil rights lawsuit was set to go to trial. Le’s family, who filed a lawsuit in 2018, was seeking $10 million in damages.
Neighbors reportedly called 911 to report Le, 20, was pounding on doors and threatening them with a knife. When police officers arrived, after trying to use a taser on Le, Deputy Cesar Molina shot him three times.
“Le refused commands to drop what they thought was a knife,” said sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. Cindi West in 2017.
No knife was ever recovered, however, and a week later, KCSO revised the statement to indicate that Le had a ballpoint pen.
The crisis in Afghanistan has reopened painful wounds for many of the country’s 2 million Vietnamese Americans.
Thuy Do, a doctor in Seattle, remembers hearing how her parents sought to leave Saigon after Vietnam fell to communist rule in 1975. It took years for her family to finally get out of the country. Do and her husband, Jesse Robbins, reached out to assist Afghans fleeing their country this year. The couple has a vacant rental home and decided to offer it up to refugee resettlement groups, which furnished it for newly arriving Afghans in need of a place to stay.
John Huynh, 29, a health insurance salesman and Amway entrepreneur, was murdered on April 25.
He was stabbed in the heart after stopping to talk to a fellow resident of his Bothell apartment building, who had flipped him off for unknown reasons. Huynh died at the scene.
Ian Williams—who didn’t know Huynh and hadn’t had any previous disputes with him—was charged with second-degree murder.
Huynh’s wife and two friends were among the people who witnessed the stabbing, which was partially captured by video surveillance cameras.
Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) activists organized several rallies against hate crimes in March, bringing hundreds of people out under the rain to demand public officials denounce racism and provide funding for community education. The turnout exceeded their expectations, with speeches from community leaders and bias crime victims.
From March 19, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021, a total of 10,370 hate incidents against AAPI persons were reported to Stop AAPI Hate. Of the hate incidents reflected in this report, 4,599 occurred in 2020 (44.4%) and 5,771 occurred in 2021 (55.7%).
There were two significant appointments involving local leaders. On Oct. 21, the U.S. Senate confirmed civil rights attorney Tana Lin as a federal judge in Seattle. The former public defender is the first Asian American to serve as a federal judge in Washington state.
And former senior deputy Seattle mayor Mike Fong was appointed as U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) director for Region 10, which includes district offices in Alaska, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.
King County Elections officially certified the Dec. 7 recall election, showing Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant narrowly prevailing with 50.4% voting “no” on the recall question and 49.6% casting “yes” ballots.
The recall question on the ballot had cited a minor campaign finance violation that Sawant acknowledged and for which she paid a fine and her alleged leadership of a protest march to the home of Mayor Jenny Durkan, even though Durkan’s address was protected by a state confidentiality law due to her prior work as a federal prosecutor. The recall question also cited her decision to let a crowd of protesters into City Hall while it was closed due to the pandemic.
Noriko Nasu and her boyfriend, walking the streets of the Chinatown-International District (CID), were attacked in February by a man swinging a rock in a sock.
Sean Holdip was charged with two counts of second-degree felony assault. Nasu was knocked unconscious and suffered a fractured nose and several chipped teeth. Her boyfriend, Michael Poffenbarger, was struck in the head and needed eight stitches following the attack.
The Seattle Police Department’s first AAPI assistant chief was demoted over an incident during Memorial Day weekend in 2020 that led to a riot.
Capt. Steve Hirjak has since filed a $5.48 million discrimination and retaliation claim against the city, alleging interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz made him the scapegoat in the police clashes with racial justice demonstrators. Hirjak says in the claim that Diaz falsely blamed him for the improper actions of another commander.
On Nov. 10, Gov. Jay Inslee named Steve Hobbs as Washington Secretary of State. Hobbs, of white and Japanese descent, is the first person of color to serve in this role.
He grew up in Snohomish County and ran for Congress in 2012, and Lieutenant Governor in 2016. He has represented the 44th Legislative District in the state Senate since 2007. He currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Washington State National Guard.
Bruce Harrell defeated Seattle City Council President Lorena González to become Seattle’s first Asian mayor and second Black mayor.
Harrell served for a few days as pro tem Mayor of Seattle in 2017 after former Mayor Ed Murray resigned amid sexual abuse allegations.
First elected to the city council in 2007, then re-elected in 2011 and 2015, Harrell was the first council president of Asian descent since Liem Tuai in the 1970s.