BURIEN, Wash. – Politicians and local leaders took to the steps of Burien’s City Hall to denounce fliers that some call anti-immigrant.
The fliers mailed by Respect Washington listed names and addresses of those it claimed were criminals and illegal immigrants.
The controversy even reached the public schools where district officials told parents and staff that kids could be scared after some called the fliers a form of vigilante justice.
“Forces from outside our community have made efforts to divide us,” said Burien’s Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta during a media conference Monday afternoon.
“This is not the Burien I know,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.
Local politicians and community advocates stood side-by-side proclaiming unity in the face of hatred.
Q13 News covered the event on Facebook as it happened live.
“The things you see in this flier are not representative of the vast majority of the people of the City of Burien,” said Constantine.
The fliers were mailed to thousands of voters in Burien, and was published by a group that calls itself Respect Washington. The fliers also shared addresses of those it believed to be convicted criminals or gang members.
“Encourage vigilante violence and politically motivated all at once,” said OneAmerica’s Rich Stoltz. “This is unacceptable behavior.”
One man who stood behind the press conference shouted out his disagreement claiming the fliers only shared factual information meant to spread awareness.
“I feel this is just an effort by Democrats to shore up the voter base," said one man named John who declined to share his last name. "Whether it comes from illegal immigrants, or feminists or homosexuals there’s no one representing the other side of traditional values and families,” he said.
“How could somebody be so cruel,” said area mother Maria Guerrero, “Because this is cruelty.”
Guerrero has two kids in public schools in Burien. She’s seen the fliers, and so has her kids -- they tell her the messages in the fliers are nothing new.
“Mom, this is not just happening here,” Guerrero said her daughters told her. “It’s everywhere.”
A co-founder of Respect Washington’ told Q13 News the fliers were meant to highlight crime in Burien and said they were sent to those who signed a petition for Prop. 1 which could have repealed Burien’s status as a sanctuary city.
A city spokesperson confirmed a King County judge removed the proposition from November’s ballot.
Meanwhile, local leaders are pleading that fearmongering and hatred stay out of politics.
“I have not seen or felt this kind of hate in Burien before,” said Tosta.
“It’s bad,” said Guerrero. “It makes you feel sad.”