A man turned himself in to police earlier this week in connection with an alleged attack on Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta, and detectives are investigating the incident as a hate crime because the man was apparently motivated by Matta’s political support of Latino immigrants.
Elected to the City Council last year after a racially-charged campaign and later chosen by his peers as the Seattle suburb’s first Latino mayor, Matta has been a vocal backer of Burien’s so-called sanctuary-city policy, which limits local cooperation with immigration authorities.
He told The Seattle Times that the attacker swore at him and whispered in his ear, “We’re not going to let you Latino illegals take over our city.”
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For Episode 86 of The Overcast, the Seattle Times news and politics podcast, Burien Deputy Mayor Austin Bell explains how his city’s politics have been transformed in the Trump era.
There was a bitter debate about the sanctuary-city policy, and Burien’s council elections pitted a slate of pro-immigration candidates against a group with the Trump-like nickname “Burien Proud, Burien First.”
A political committee with money from an out-of-state organization stoked tensions by mailing a letter to voters that purportedly listed the names, addresses and crimes of undocumented immigrants. But the entire pro-immigration slate won.
Elected three years ago, when he was just 24 years old, Bell says the recent attack upset him but hasn’t dampened his optimism about where Burien is headed.
“Whenever something like this happens the community rallies around,” Bell says, adding, “People are hungry for a better vision … They don’t just want us to push back and call names louder. They want to see us offer something we can all believe in.”
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