LYNNWOOD — Prosecutors have charged two teenagers with hate crimes, alleging they took part in an Islamophobic assault north of Lynnwood that sent a child to the hospital in November.
It’s the first such charges for Snohomish County minors since the state Legislature renamed the allegation in 2019 from malicious harassment to hate crime offense, Prosecutor Adam Cornell wrote in an email.
Since 2020, local law enforcement have referred nine possible juvenile hate crimes to Snohomish County prosecutors. Three of those alleged offenders were referred to diversion programs as an alternative to criminal proceedings. One charge was declined for insufficient evidence and another was declined because police didn’t follow up with prosecutors, Cornell said. Two were being reviewed for possible charges.
The charges filed this week in Snohomish County Superior Court allege one of the two teens, who is 15, was walking with a 13 year old on Nov. 6 when a third teen jumped out. The two allegedly beat the 13 year old.
The two suspects recorded the attack, according to the charging papers. The alleged assault continued for an hour at several locations. They would drag the 13 year old by his pants and shirt to each spot, according to charging papers.
During the attack, the two teens made Islamophobic statements, prosecutors alleged. They reportedly told the victim if he told anyone about the attack, they would kill him and his family.
At one point, one of the suspects, who is also 13, told the victim to kiss his shoes and perform the act of prostration, an Islamic prayer position where the believer kneels and places their head on the ground to praise God, according to court documents. The victim’s father told detectives this was offensive to their religion.
Videos recorded by the suspects backed up the allegations, according to prosecutors.
The two teens had a history of harassing the victim, his father told police. One had reportedly called the boy a “Muslim terrorist” and “(expletive) Arab” for months.
Eventually, the victim escaped and ran home. His father took him to the hospital, where the boy was diagnosed with bruises on his head and arm and a concussion, deputy prosecutor Hayley Bigoni wrote in the charges.
The victim told investigators he felt shame and guilt about the incident. He said he thinks about it every day when he prays, according to court documents.
The victim and one of the suspects are no longer enrolled in the Mukilteo School District, spokesperson Diane Bradford said in an email.
The two suspects were each charged with a hate crime, second-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment. The Daily Herald is not naming the defendants because they are minors.
Hate crimes have been on the rise nationwide, according to federal data. In 2013, there were nearly 7,000 hate crimes reported. By 2020, that increased to over 11,000.
As for juveniles, according to data from the 2018-2019 school year, one in four students who reported being bullied said it was based on race, religion, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation. And a quarter of all students reported seeing hateful words or symbols written in their schools.