A new push to combat harassment of Black candidates and staff
State political leaders are discussing how to protect Black candidates and staff after a campaign worker was harassed on video and a legislative candidate reported being shot with a BB gun.
Driving the news: Carey Anderson, a Democratic candidate for state House and a pastor, was putting up yard signs July 15 when he felt a sharp pain and realized someone had shot him with a BB gun, he told police.
- Anderson, who wasn't injured, is Black.
Separately, state Rep. April Berg (D-Mill Creek) posted a video this month of a man telling her campaign field director — a young Black and Ecuadorian man — to "get the (expletive) out of my neighborhood."
- That was after Berg, a Black woman, found one of her campaign banners spray-painted with a white supremacist symbol in May, according to a police report.
The latest: The string of incidents is prompting Democratic party leaders to develop new protocols for handling racial harassment, state party chair Tina Podlodowski told Axios.
- That includes a better system for reporting and tracking incidents, as well as recommending that campaign workers follow precautions like going out in pairs, Podlodowski said.
Yes, but: Anderson said in the days since the BB incident, House Democratic campaign leaders haven't offered him much besides words of support.
- Anderson, who is in a competitive four-way race in the 30th Legislative District, told Axios he has had to dedicate extra staff to guard him whenever he goes out campaigning.
- That's taking away resources he could be using to reach additional voters before the Aug. 2 primary, he said.
Meanwhile, Berg told Axios that after the May hate symbol incident, she spent several evenings Googling safety tips for her staff.
- She said she asked the House Democrats' campaign committee for help, but, "there was really nothing they could send me."
What they're saying: Crystal Fincher, a political consultant who works with Democrats, called the lack of attention to security issues "a glaring omission," especially given how involved the caucus committees are in other aspects of campaigning.
- "This is more work for Black candidates and campaigns," Fincher told Axios, after posting a list on Twitter of steps the party should take.
- "It is just another barrier, just another thing that puts them at a competitive disadvantage."
The big picture: Harassment of candidates and campaign workers of color isn't new, said Olgy Diaz, president of the National Women's Political Caucus of Washington.
- But lately, more incidents are being recorded — and media outlets are increasingly willing to report on them, she told Axios.
- Diaz said she also thinks former President Trump "galvanized" more people to express racist sentiments publicly.
Of note: Legislative Republican leaders John Braun and J.T. Wilcox condemned the attack on Anderson, saying violence and hate speech have no place in politics.
Zoom out: Republicans have experienced a pair of concerning incidents this year, too — one of which involved a gun being pulled on someone who was campaigning for a Black candidate, Wilcox told Axios.
- Wilcox said he has asked the state Republican Party to act as a clearinghouse for reports of violence or threats, similar to one of the changes Democrats are making.
What's next: Podlodowski said Democrats plan to offer more safety training to candidates and campaigns in the future.
- That will include instruction on deescalation and how to respond to confrontations, she said.
More Seattle stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Seattle.