Top 10 local stories of 2021

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By Ruth Bayang
Northwest Asia Weekly

10. Tommy Le’s Family Wins $ 5 Million Settlement

The King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) has agreed to pay $ 5 million for Tommy Le’s June 14, 2017 shooting death. The settlement was reached less than a month before the start of the civil rights trial. Le’s family, who filed a lawsuit in 2018, claimed $ 10 million in damages.

Neighbors reportedly called 911 to report that Le, 20, was knocking on doors and threatening them with a knife. When the police arrived, after trying to use a taser on Le, MP Cesar Molina shot him three times.

“Le refused orders to drop what they thought was a knife,” said Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Cindi West in 2017.

However, no knife was ever recovered and a week later KCSO revised the statement to indicate that Le had a ballpoint pen.

9. Local Vietnamese Americans Help Afghan Refugees

The crisis in Afghanistan has reopened painful wounds for many of the country’s 2 million Vietnamese Americans.

Thuy Do, a doctor in Seattle, remembers hearing how his parents sought to leave Saigon after Vietnam fell under communist rule in 1975. It took years for his family to finally leave the country. Do and her husband, Jesse Robbins, have reached out to Afghans fleeing their country this year. The couple have a vacant rental home and have decided to donate it to refugee resettlement groups, who have provided it to newly arrived Afghans in need of a place to stay.

8. The murder of John Huynh

John Huynh, 29, an Amway health insurance salesman and entrepreneur, was murdered on April 25.

He was stabbed in the heart after stopping to speak to another resident of his Bothell apartment building, who had run over him for unknown reasons. Huynh died at the scene.
Ian Williams, who did not know Huynh and had never had an argument with him, was charged with second degree murder.

Huynh’s wife and two friends were among those who witnessed the stabbing, which was partly captured by CCTV cameras.

7. Stop AAPI’s Hateful Gatherings

Asian America and Pacific Islander (AAPI) activists held several hate crime rallies in March, bringing together hundreds in the rain to demand that officials speak out against racism and fund community education. The turnout exceeded their expectations, with speeches from community leaders and victims of harmful crime.

From March 19, 2020 to September 30, 2021, a total of 10,370 hate incidents against AAPI people were reported to Stop AAPI Hate. Of the hate incidents reflected in this report, 4,599 occurred in 2020 (44.4%) and 5,771 occurred in 2021 (55.7%).

6. Tana Lin appointed federal judge & Mike Fong SBA

There have been two important appointments involving local leaders. On October 21, the US Senate confirmed that civil rights lawyer Tana Lin was a federal judge in Seattle. The former public defender is the first Asian American to serve as a federal judge in Washington state.

And former Seattle deputy mayor Mike Fong has been appointed director of the US Small Business Administration (SBA) for Region 10, which includes district offices in Alaska, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

5. Kshama Sawant survives recall vote

The King County election officially certified the December 7 recall election, showing Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant narrowly winning with 50.4% voting “no” on the recall issue and 49, 6% voting “yes”.

The recall question on the ballot cited a minor campaign finance violation that Sawant admitted to paying a fine and her alleged leading a protest march at Mayor Jenny Durkan’s home, although Durkan’s address was protected by a state confidentiality law. due to his previous work as a federal prosecutor. The recall question also cited his decision to let a crowd of protesters enter Town Hall while it was closed due to the pandemic.

4. A Japanese woman attacked at the CID

Noriko Nasu and her boyfriend, walking the streets of the Chinatown-International District (CID), were attacked in February by a man throwing a rock into a sock.

Sean Holdip has been charged with two counts of second degree assault. Nasu lost consciousness and suffered a broken nose and several chipped teeth. Her boyfriend, Michael Poffenbarger, was shot in the head and needed eight stitches after the attack.

3. Steve Hirjak demoted

The Seattle Police Department’s first deputy AAPI chief was demoted following an incident over Memorial Day weekend in 2020 that led to a riot.

Captain Steve Hirjak has since filed a $ 5.48 million discrimination and reprisal complaint against the city, alleging that Acting Police Chief Adrian Diaz has made him the scapegoat in clashes between police and the racial justice protesters. Hirjak says in the claim that Diaz falsely blamed him for the inappropriate actions of another commander.

2. Steve Hobbs appointed Secretary of State for Washington

On November 10, Governor Jay Inslee appointed Steve Hobbs as Washington’s secretary of state. Hobbs, of white and Japanese descent, is the first person of color to fill this role.

He grew up in Snohomish County and ran for Congress in 2012, and Lieutenant Governor in 2016. He has represented the 44th Legislative District in the State Senate since 2007. He is currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the National Guard. of Washington State.

1. Bruce Harrell wins Seattle mayoral race

Bruce Harrell defeated Seattle City Council President Lorena González to become Seattle’s first Asian mayor and second black mayor.

Harrell served as Seattle’s acting mayor for a few days in 2017 after former Mayor Ed Murray resigned amid allegations of sexual abuse.

First elected to city council in 2007, then re-elected in 2011 and 2015, Harrell was the first Asian-born council chairman since Liem Tuai in the 1970s.


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