Forum: Don’t allow hate to go unchallenged in our communities

Arlington and Snohomish County can’t stay silent in the face of hate crime attacks of family and friends.

By Juliana Mefferd / Herald Forum

Earlier this month, our neighbors, a lesbian couple, were victims of an unprovoked attack on their home. They, like us, are no strangers to being targeted in Arlington for openly supporting the LGBTQ+ community, but what is especially concerning is that the escalation in these hate crimes now has the propensity to turn violent.

These two women, who have a fundamental right to feel safe in the sanctity of their own home, were shaken to the core by an aggressive individual coming onto their property and attempting to kick down their front door, splitting it at the hinges. They had to file a claim with their homeowner’s insurance because the door had to be replaced.

As a proud mother of a gay teenager, I recognize that rural Arlington is not Seattle, but I will not tolerate hate crimes here any longer. Hate is taught. The feeling of safety within our community is being shattered by a group of ignorant individuals, who increasingly feel emboldened to terrorize community members in what I believe is an attempt to run some of us out of town through intimidation and now violent tactics. Simply flying a peaceful and inclusive Pride flag has been politicized to no end by those who don’t care about the consequences of inciting violence in our communities.

While I don’t know if all of the harassment to our homes is being perpetrated by kids in our community, the interaction I have had with aggressive vitriol being hurled at us from middle school-age kids leads me to believe that parents have a lot of work to do. Some of you may dismiss this as just “kids being kids.” I refuse to accept this reality because marginalized community members who are targeted regularly do not have the luxury of living in a bubble of denial.

My many positive interactions with Arlington Police Chief Jonathan Ventura and the police department gives me hope that working together, we can all stop hate from festering here. This involves finding a way to protect people who are systematically being targeted, whether that is due to sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, etc. It all starts with calling this harassment what it is, a hate crime.

In the past I contacted the Anti-Defamation League because I wanted these instances recorded for the record. I was concerned about the influx of hate motivated actions occurring here, especially with well-documented hate groups taking root over the last decade in Snohomish County. If this is happening to those in the LGBTQ+ community of Arlington, I can assure you that people of color, people with disabilities, Jewish people, and any other minority sect of the population are being targeted here because bigotry, antisemitism, homophobia, and all other forms of hate thrive in an environment where nobody does anything to stop it. We need to do better.

I’ll quote the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Ten Ways to Fight Hate: “Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance by the perpetrators, the public, and — worse — the victims. Community members must take action; if we don’t, hate persists.”

Juliana Mefferd lives in Arlington.

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