Indian American Impact on Recent Arrest Following Hate Crime Against Representative Pramila Jayapal

Washington D.C. —  Prosecutors in Washington state confirmed the arrest of an armed man who had threatened to kill Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) on Saturday night. At 11:25 p.m., the armed 48-year-old Seattle man drove by her house three times yelling obscenities, including, “Go back to India, I’m going to kill you.” Witnesses heard gun fire, and when officers arrived on the scene they arrested the man, who had a .40 caliber handgun. 

Though the man remains in jail in lieu of $500,000 bail, the judge denied prosecutors’ request for an anti-harassment order to protect the Congresswoman. The Seattle Police Department, the US Capitol Police and FBI investigators are continuing to investigate the incident.

Neil Makhija, Executive Director of Indian American Impact, shared the following statement: 

“We are grateful that Representative Jayapal and her family are safe, but we are horrified that they had to endure this terrifying hate crime. There should be no place for hate in our country, and Representative Jayapal and her family should not have to live in fear. Yet today, we see it everywhere.

There have been over 11,000 hate incidents against Asian Americans last year and nearly 600 more every month. These hate crimes are rarely reported on the news – even this story about a member of Congress has barely been covered by national media.

We remain extremely alarmed that a request for a criminal harassment protection order was denied, particularly considering the aggressive nature of the incident and the public nature of the Congresswoman’s job. Rep. Jayapal’s service to Washington’s 7th Congressional district should not be a threat to her life or her family’s lives. 

We urge the US Capitol Police and FBI to conduct a thorough and exhaustive investigation into this incident and implement all necessary safety measures to ensure Rep. Jayapal and other AAPI members of Congress are safe in their respective districts and in Washington, D.C.

Recent data indicates that anti-Asian hate crime increased by 339 percent last year alone. This weekend’s incident represents a growing trend that impacts all Americans. Racial injustice is alive and well in this country, and we must band together to reject it. Anything less is unacceptable.”