Police chiefs from six cities on the Eastside met with community members Tuesday night.
They held a safety forum at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS), the largest mosque in the Northwest, to address concerns in the local Muslim and immigrant communities.
Redmond Chief Kristi Wilson said it’s important for people to know law enforcement stands with them.
“We don't tolerate hate. We won't tolerate criminal behavior. And we will continue down this road, we're going to continue to have conversations within our community and we will all come together really to stand up for what's right in our communities,” Wilson said.
Attending police chiefs emphasized that people can, and should, reach out to them if they’re scared or if they experience discrimination or targeting.
They also talked about personal safety, de-escalation, active shooter situations and the state’s hate crime laws.
Chief Wilson said the goal was for people to leave the forum better informed and hopefully calmer.
Mahmood Khadeer is president of MAPS. He said there’s been growing anxiety in the Muslim community in recent months, especially since their mosque’s sign was vandalized twice within a period of weeks.
“We really want to make sure to communicate to them that we are connected with our law enforcement authorities here and they can reach out to them for help in case they need it, so they can feel safe and secure and go about doing their business,” Khadeer said.
Aneelah Afzali also works with MAPS. She runs the American Muslim Empowerment Network. She said it’s important to build bridges with law enforcement now.
“As one of the chiefs said, you don't contact a banker at the time that you need a loan, you develop a relationship beforehand. And tonight was an opportunity to do that, to build a relationship between law enforcement and our community and have our community have their questions answered,” Afzali said.
She said the message of support from local law enforcement comes at a time when people need reassurance.
“I think it's really important for minority communities to hear that message and to hear it from the officers who are there to protect and serve us all. We're going to help each other out, we're going to work together and make sure that our communities feel safe and protected,” she said.
Afzali is calling on leaders and community members to speak out against Islamophobia, hate speech and hate crimes.