December 11, 2023

A man was arrested for an alleged hate crime after he vandalized the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District.

What happened: On Thursday, Craig Milne, 76, allegedly yelled racist statements and smashed nine windows of the historic museum using a sledgehammer, according to Seattle police. The attack took place at around 5 p.m. during an after-hours tour organized by Tsuru for Solidarity, a group that advocates solidarity among different communities and against racial and state violence. 
Community members initially thought the destruction was construction noise but soon realized it was vandalism. Despite multiple 911 calls, police response was reportedly delayed by over 50 minutes, causing frustration among witnesses.

Milne’s arrest: When Milne was arrested, police noted that he said, “Chinese people ruined my life,” leading authorities and community leaders to believe the attack was racially motivated. Milne was booked for a hate crime offense and malicious mischief. After his first court appearance on Friday, his bail was set at $30,000.

“We argued that there was probable cause for a hate crime,” said Casey McNerthney, a spokesperson for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. “The charging decision will come when we get the referral from Seattle police, and we anticipate getting that referral tomorrow.”

Museum damages: According to the museum’s executive director, Joël Barraquiel Tan, the damages could cost more than $200,000. Despite the incident, Tan says his staff and volunteers are committed to educating the public about Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) history.

“Over 100 years of anti-Chinese policies and vigilantism that isn’t that long ago, that isn’t too many generations ago, and I think this recent hate crime and vandalism is just connected to that,” Tan told Fox 13. “Our work right now is to flood it with light again, and to re-bless the place.”

Denouncements of the incident: After Milne’s arrest, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell released an official statement on X, condemning the incident and promising assistance to the museum. 

“I am appalled to learn about the apparent hate crime that occurred at the Wing Luke Museum yesterday. The targeting of our AAPI community is unacceptable, and I condemn the attack – and the hate-fueled motivations of the suspect who was arrested – in the strongest possible terms,” Harrell tweeted.
Bettie Luke, the sister of Wing Luke, the first-ever person of color to be elected to the Seattle City Council, also denounced the recent attack and the anti-Asian hate crimes in the neighborhood.

“This anti-Asian business has got to stop,” she said. “It isn’t just an Asian American problem. It’s a problem that affects the whole community.”


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