By Miki Mullor
A peace rally organized by Plateaupians For Peace that was held next to the Klahanie park drew a crowd of more than 150 people on Sunday afternoon. The rally was held in response to a flurry of racist graffiti vandalism acts that took place last week in Klahanie.
People expressed rejection of the acts and called for neighbors to reach out to each other in a community strengthening effort. Some held signs that read “No Hate Makes Klahanie Great”, “We Are Family” and “Hate Has No Home Here.”
Klahanie residents woke up early this week to sprayed red graffiti of racists slurs, but it seems no specific resident was targeted and that the targets were randomly chosen.
Broad attendance by Sammamish City Council
Five members of the Sammamish City Council supported the rally and the targets of the graffiti: Mayor Christie Malchow and Members Chris Ross, Ramiro Valderrama, Pam Stuart and Jason Ritchie. Deputy Mayor Karen Moran and Member Tom Hornish were traveling. Ritchie lives in Klahanie.
Also present were State Rep. Lisa Callan of the 5th Legislative District, which includes the greater Klahanie area, Sammamish Chief of Police Michele Bennett and former Mayor Bob Keller.
Josh Donion, a Board Member of the Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Northwest Office, told the crowd that the recent racist, anti-Semitic incidents in the Klahanie community are deeply disturbing and indicative of larger trends.
“When it comes to hate, sunlight is the best disinfectant and we need to shine a bright light on acts of hatred and bigotry,” said Donion.
The Anti-Defamation League is a national anti-hate organization that has worked to fight bigotry and discrimination for 75 years.
More incidents this week-one at rally location
Since the first graffiti incident was reported on Feb. 20, three more similar incidents occured in Klahanie, one of which took place at the location of the rally.
Earlier on Sunday, someone sprayed the wall where the rally was planned to take place, with the same color as the other graffitis that were found in Klahanie last week.
The organizers covered the graffiti with a brown paper and had residents write messages of love on it – a “wall of peace.”
Police said the graffiti underneath the paper said “sorry. No hate. Just … (illegible)”. All others graffitis were sprayed on homes and cars. This particular graffiti may have targeted the rally, given its off location and timing the day of the rally.
Police haven’t yet arrested anyone in these incidents. Although attendees speculated the criminals are teenagers, police say there is no information yet to suggest so.
The community is raising money for clean up efforts on this Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/hate-has-no-home-in-klahanie