Monday, July 19, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Hate loses one

Credit for the arrest of three young men in connection with a beating during Seattle's gay-pride weekend goes to fine police work and a crime victim refusing to let his attackers win.

Micah Painter left the Timberline Spirits club one evening when he was beaten, called derogatory names and slashed with a broken vodka bottle. Painter fought back in the best way possible: He told police everything he could to help them find his assailants. Friends and others in the gay and lesbian community also fought, holding rallies and other events to educate the public about hate crimes. Meanwhile, violent-crimes detectives went to work. In addition to information supplied by Painter, they received a tip on King County's Crime Stoppers line and soon narrowed their search to a group of Bellingham residents who are known bullies. Added to the crime-fighting mix was the assistance of other local police departments and the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force.

Now, two men have been charged with felony assault and malicious harassment. A third faces the same charges.

Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, speaking at a rally for Painter, promised justice. The chief delivered.

Seattle has experienced relatively few hate crimes. So few, in fact, that the police department's bias-crime coordinator has time to take on other department assignments.

But we shouldn't become complacent. The best defense against hate crimes is a strong offense, starting with open communication between police and our communities. The willingness of crime victims and witnesses to come forward is critical. Such partnerships are the essence of community policing.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company


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