The King County sheriff and a Burien City Council member fear an inaccurate flier mailed to some residents listing purportedly undocumented immigrants’ names, addresses and crimes will incite violence.

Share story

The King County sheriff and a Burien City Council member fear an inaccurate flier mailed to some residents listing purportedly undocumented immigrants’ names, addresses and crimes will incite violence.

The flier by Respect Washington, an organization opposed to sanctuary cities, listed 16 last names and alleged crimes from 2008-2017, such as murder and rape. It also had a map purportedly showing where some of the people lived and stated that some were gang members.

King County Sheriff John Urquhart received the flier Thursday from a concerned citizen. He discovered some of the people named haven’t been convicted of the crimes listed and some of the addresses are outdated, with family or perhaps new residents living there.

“I think it was to instill fear in the community and divide the community even further and incite vigilantism,” he said.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks

In his four decades of policing, Urquhart, who is running for re-election, said he’s never seen an ethnically motivated mailing like this.

Burien Councilmember Austin Bell, a Democrat who is not up for re-election this year, said: “It’s outrageous, sad and a little scary … I don’t know if they are trying to provoke physical conflict. Let’s hope that’s not the case.”

Four candidates running for the council are supported by Respect Washington.

The letter, first reported by Crosscut, starts with “American citizen in Burien: You have been CHEATED!” It lambastes some elected officials, including Urquhart and Bell, for supporting sanctuary cities and encourages people to support four candidates running for council. The next page of the mailer includes the names, addresses and list of alleged crimes.

No one from Respect Washington, including founder Craig Keller, returned a phone call or email for comment. The organization, registered in Tacoma, has filed lawsuits against Burien and Spokane, which passed ordinances or policies similar to sanctuary cities.

While those representing Respect Washington haven’t committed a crime by mailing the flier, Urquhart said he won’t hesitate to investigate anyone who acts upon it.

“We don’t want people going to these houses and harassing people who live there or picketing,” he said. “I want to reassure people who have names and addresses listed that if they are victims of any crime we are going to investigate.”

The King County Sheriff’s Office, which has law-enforcement jurisdiction over Burien, has a policy against asking about someone’s immigration status.