State law defines malicious harassment — a felony commonly referred to as a “hate crime” — as intentionally injuring, damaging property or threatening someone “because of his or her perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical or sensory handicap.”
In Seattle a misdemeanor malicious harassment law extends those protections to include gender identity, homelessness, marital status, political ideology, age and parental status.
Detective Beth Wareing investigates bias crimes for the Seattle Police Department and coordinates its response.
She said the department tracks three types of bias:
• Malicious harassment;
• Crimes that have a bias element, such as when hatred toward a protected group or class is a secondary motivation;
• Bias incidents, in which “someone shares their nasty opinion about someone’s membership in these groups.”
Although bias incidents are not crimes, Wareing said tracking them helps SPD understand how people are being treated in a particular area or neighborhood and ensures that someone who feels threatened is heard.
So… if you are in Seattle you can’t insult the communists (in some areas you can just close your eyes and point in a random direction to find them) without being at risk of being reported to the police. But perhaps just as important is that if you go for a walk downtown wearing your NRA jacket and/or hat and people express their hatred those haters can be reported as well. Open carry is legal in the state too, but that probably would be considered hunting over bait and the fish and game department generally frowns on that.