King County prosecutors filed hate crime and fourth-degree assault charges against a man Thursday after he allegedly punched two women, one of whom was from China, in downtown Seattle.
Just after 5 p.m. on July 11, Seattle police officers responded to reports of a shirtless white man punching multiple people in the area of Third Avenue and Union Street, where dispatchers told officers that the man “appear(ed) to be going after Asians,” according to court documents.
Unprovoked, the suspect first hit a woman in the back of the head, according to court documents. She told officers she did not believe she was targeted because of her race. The suspect then began yelling at two other women, who were of Asian descent, to “go back to China” before punching one of them in the shoulder, the first victim also said in court documents.
Officers arrested Michael Allen, 40, and brought him to King County Jail, where prosecutors requested a $30,000 bond.
Allen had no prior felony convictions but was convicted of disorderly conduct in 2005 and driving under the influence in 2002, according to court documents.
Allen’s public defender, Brandon Davis, did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
The latest available data from the Seattle Police Department shows that the number of hate crimes and bias incidents in the city rose from 260 in 2019 to 509 in 2021. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office this year approved new positions specifically focused on hate crimes.
Another Seattle man faces a hate crime charge from King County prosecutors in connection with threats he allegedly made toward U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a prominent Democrat who represents Seattle. The suspect, Brett Allen Forsell, was accused of telling her to “go back to India.” He was arrested near the lawmaker’s house earlier this month and held on a $500,000 bond.
Anti-Asian hate crimes have risen exponentially since the onset of the pandemic, with a 339% increase just last year, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
Allen’s arraignment is set for July 28.