Gov. Jay Inslee spoke out against acts of intolerance last week after the recent vandalism incidents at two Hindu temples in the Seattle area.
On Feb. 15, members of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell discovered the words “get out” and a swastika spray-painted on an outside wall. Two weeks later, members of the Sanatan Dharma Temple in Kent found their windows broken and the word “FEAR” written on the wall.
“There are still elements that act as agents of intolerance and hate and we have got to stand up against them every day,” Inslee said in prepared remarks on Thursday.
Along with his public remarks, Inslee also set aside time last week to meet with the leaders of the Hindu temples that were targeted and also with local Muslim leaders.
Bothell temple chairman Nit Niranjan and vice chairman Mani Vadari said the governor’s response was encouraging, and said it was important for elected leaders to criticize acts of intolerance publicly.
Vadari said the temple had never been targeted by such a blatant display of hate before, and the messages that were scrawled on the walls still affect the members.
“Those kinds of statements are hurtful,” he said.
Vadari said the members have talked about doing more outreach to their neighbors in an attempt to increase understanding.
“We are dealing with it and still talking about it,” Vadari said. “I don’t want to treat this lightly.”
“This could have happened to any minority,” Vadari added.
Niranjan praised the reaction from their neighbors, community members and local elected and government officials, and law enforcement, including Snohomish County officials, Congressman Jim McDermott and the governor.
Niranjan said he hopes law enforcement finds the perpetrators — not necessarily for punishment but to understand what the vandals were thinking.
“No one has a right to say, ‘Get out,’ ” Niranjan said.
Inslee in his statements on Thursday also decried the rising violence against the gay community, including an arson of a nightclub and the murder of two men in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, which took place last year.
The Seattle Weekly reported last week a 14 percent spike in bias crimes on Capitol Hill between 2013 and 2014.
“We don’t know yet all the facts behind the shooting death in Pasco and until we do we all will need to remain patient,” he said. “But we do know that some in the community clearly feel marginalized and expressed concerns about whether immigrants who don’t speak English or suffer from mental illness are treated fairly.”