By Mahlon Meyer & Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
SEATTLE — A 76-year-old man has been charged with a hate crime and malicious mischief —two felony charges—for using a sledgehammer to smash windows at the Wing Luke Museum on Sept. 14.
Bail has been set at $30,000 for Craig Milne who told the Seattle police officer who arrested him that “the Chinese ruined my life.”
In an email to various community members of the Seattle Chinatown-International District (CID), Stanley Shikuma, the co-president of the Seattle Chapter Japanese American Citizens League wrote, “The Wing Luke staff are quite traumatized by the attack on their building and quite upset that 911 said they WILL NOT RESPOND! This is outrageous and unacceptable—that a major community institution is attacked and vandalized… and Seattle Police basically said they can’t be bothered!”
The police said they arrested a suspect and referred questions about the delay to the Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC), which was created in 2021 by the Seattle City Council to handle dispatch.
Amy Smith, deputy director at the CSCC told Northwest Asian Weekly that, “The call was originally entered at 1722 hours. The police were dispatched at 1803 hours and arrived at 1814 hours. We are actively reviewing how the call was prioritized and dispatched.”
Seattle Deputy Mayor Greg Wong, in a statement sent to Northwest Asian Weekly, said the problem was related to a scarcity of officers in the Seattle Police Department (SPD).
“An incident like this underscores the importance of recruiting and retaining officers to ensure a well-staffed department, as we work to build a Seattle Police Department that reflects the diversity of the neighbors it serves and that responds to the needs of the community in a swift, appropriate, and culturally competent manner,” he said.
Shikuma called the incident “yet another instance of neglect and lack of respect and concern for Asian Americans in general and the CID in particular.”
A hate crime?
Milne was transported and booked into King County Jail for “Hate Crime and Malicious Mischief.”
He told police his briefcase was stolen for the third time he “had to do something.” When asked if an Asian person stole his briefcase, Milne told the officer he didn’t know but “he had to do something because the Chinese ruined his life.”
In comments posted on X (formerly Twitter), Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell stated, “The targeting of our AAPI community is unacceptable, and I condemn the attack—and the hate-fueled motivations of the suspect who was arrested—in the strongest possible terms.”
Statistics provided by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO) show that anti-Asian crimes are the second most common type of anti-race or ethnicity hate crimes this year. Anti-Black crimes are the most common.
Tanya Woo, who leads a night watch of the district and is running for city council, said, “This is clearly blatant racism but at the same time there’s untreated mental health issues.”
She said she was “angry at the damage to the historic windows and display honoring community protector Donnie Chin and the trauma this has caused to the community,” referring to the man who took on the role of neighborhood protector before he was shot to death in 2015.
Evelyn Chow, a spokesperson for Tammy Morales, the city councilmember who represents the CID, said, “Our office heard about the terrible incident yesterday and we are in contact with community members about desired next steps. We will be reaching out to Monica Ly and others in SPD about the incident.”
According to staff at the Wing Luke, the cost to replace the windows could be upwards of $200,000. As of Friday morning, the damaged windows of the museum were covered with multi-colored boards.
“Our office has been in contact with the museum to understand how we can best support them… We have also been working with City departments to see if repair assistance can be accelerated to quickly restore damage and offset any financial impact,” said Harrell.
He added, “[A] targeted incident like this will have lasting psychological scars on AAPI communities that since the pandemic have experienced an increase in hate crimes. We will continue to work with neighborhood partners in the CID to rebuild trust and restore peace of mind.”
“Many people have been asking how they can support the Wing Luke Museum during this time,” a spokesperson told the Northwest Asian Weekly. He said, “We have a pop-up on our web page that can direct them where to go to make a donation… add into the comment box either ‘Wing Luke Museum general support’ or ‘Chinese American Legacy Project’.”
For now, the museum is moving forward with its values.
“We are focused on healing our community and staff and offering trauma-informed support to them. At the same time, we are undeterred in our mission’s work. The incident fuels our work to facilitate and reinforce the neighborhood’s resurgence with our many partners in community development and wellness.”
On Sunday, Sept. 17, at 3 p.m., Wing Luke’s sister, Bettie, and Stewart Wong will share stories related to the exclusion of Chinese Americans and discuss the Chinese American Legacy Artwork Project which shines a light on Chinese exclusion. The story sharing is part of the Friends of the Waterfront events at Pier 62.
To support the Wing Luke Museum, go to wingluke.org.