Bias Crimes and Incidents in Seattle

2000 to 2005

An analysis by type of bias and neighborhood

report by Ken Molsberry

edited by Kristina Armenakis

Hate Crime Awareness Project

24 Apr 2006 edition

To view the full report, see full report - 37 pages (Adobe Acrobat, 510kb).

For data and other files, see the Downloads table at the bottom of this page.


Using data provided by Seattle Police Department, bias-motivated attacks are found to be prevalent in every Seattle neighborhood. With an awareness of the number and types of bias attacks committed in their areas, neighborhood activists, community organizations, and City agencies have a necessary and valuable tool in their work to reduce such attacks.

During the study period from January 2000 to December 2005, there were 403 bias-motivated attacks in the city. The primary biases exhibited were based on race (142 attacks) and sexual orientation (119 attacks). Other biases were, in decreasing order: religion, national origin, political ideology, and gender identity.

An analysis was done by geographic area based on Seattle’s established neighborhoods. The city was divided into 18 neighborhood areas.

Number of bias attacks by neighborhood area (alphabetical), 2000 to 2005
neighborhood area race sexual
religion national
other Total
Arbor Heights / White Center 5 2 2 3   12
Ballard / Crown Hill 3 4 2 5 1 15
Downtown / Belltown / Pioneer Square / South Lake Union 17 13 5 6 7 48
First Hill / Capitol Hill / Eastlake 20 43 3 9 1 76
Fremont / Wallingford 10 3 1 1   15
Georgetown / Rainier Valley 7 4 3 2   16
Greenwood 10 4 2 5 2 23
International District / Central District 13 15 2 6 2 38
Lake City 6 4 6 2   18
Laurelhurst / View Ridge / Sandpoint 2 2 2 1 3 10
Magnolia / Interbay 1 4 3 1   9
Montlake / Broadmoor / Madrona   3 2   1 6
North Beach / Bitter Lake 2   1   1 4
Northgate / Haller Lake 2 1 7 3   13
Queen Anne 8 4   5   17
SODO / Beacon Hill / Mt. Baker 12 2 3 5 2 24
U. District / Ravenna 14 5 10 2 3 34
West Seattle / Harbor Island 10 6 4 1 4 25
Grand Total 142 119 58 57 27 403

Bias attacks occurred in every neighborhood area, with the First Hill / Capitol Hill / Eastlake area having the highest number, 76 reports. The Downtown / Belltown / Pioneer Square / South Lake Union area had the next-highest with 48 reports. Even ostensibly “safe” neighborhoods had substantial numbers of bias-motivated attacks – Ballard / Crown Hill, for example, had 15, as did Fremont / Wallingford.

A second analysis was done by year. There was a sharp peak in 2001, with every category of bias attacks being higher over the prior year. In particular, attacks based on national origin increased more than 300%. The following year, 2002, the number of bias-motivated attacks fell to a level much closer to, but still higher than, the number experienced in 2000. The total number of attacks fell to a recent low in 2003 but experienced a small increase in 2004 and another increase in 2005.

A third analysis was done to discern the “9/11 effect” – the effect on the number and types of bias crimes and incidents as a result of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. Relative to the period before 9/11, the period after saw a 220% increase in attacks based on national origin. Substantial increases were also seen in the political ideology, sexual orientation, and religion bias types. The total number of bias attacks was 24% higher in the period immediately following 9/11 than in the same period prior.

Finally, the statistics for Seattle for 2002, 2003, and 2004 were compared to those gathered nationwide by the FBI. Rates for bias attacks based on sexual orientation were significantly higher in Seattle (ranging between 30% and 42% in those three years) than they were nationwide (17%). Conversely, attacks based on either race or religion comprised a significantly smaller proportion in Seattle than nationally.

About the author

Ken Molsberry has resided in Seattle since 1979, currently in the Ballard neighborhood where he lives with his same-sex partner. As gay people, the author and his life-partner are potential victims of one of the most prevalent types of bias attack, that targeted to sexual orientation. As a concerned citizen, the author is aware that bias attacks of all types harm innocent people and damage the livability of the city where he makes his home.

Mr. Molsberry is a computer systems and data analyst for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Washington State University. Although he is a City employee, no City resources were used in the creation of this study, with the exception of the time spent by Seattle Police Department to respond to two public disclosure requests for information. Expenses for the production of this study, including a copying fee for the public disclosure request, have been provided by the author and the Hate Crime Awareness Project of the Seattle LGBT Community Center. Opinions expressed in this report are those solely of the author and do not represent positions of the City Attorney’s Office or the City of Seattle.


The author extends his thanks to:

Finally, the author would like to thank his life-partner Chris Vincent for his assistance in processing the data, and for his encouragement.


To read the report, click the link below.

full report - 37 pages Adobe Acrobat 510kb

Other downloads and links:

data used in the report Microsoft Excel 241kb
Seattle Police Dept. response to data request Adobe Acrobat 3,928kb
Seattle Police Dept. response to second data request Adobe Acrobat 967kb
Improving Our Response to Bias Attacks – Recommendations for Seattle City Council
by Ken Molsberry, Kristina Armenakis, and Robert S. Jacobs
Microsoft Word 42kb
Seattle Police Dept.’s response to
Improving Our Response to Bias Attacks – Recommendations for Seattle City Council
Adobe Acrobat 76kb
response to Seattle Police Dept.’s response to recommendations Microsoft Word 64kb
FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics 2004 report Adobe Acrobat 1,424kb
‘We Are Not The Enemy’ – Hate Crimes Against Arabs, Muslims, and Those Perceived to be Arab or Muslim after September 11
by Human Rights Watch (2002)
Adobe Acrobat 524kb
Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper article on the report
by Athima Chansanchai
Hate Crimes In Seattle forum: PowerPoint presentation
hosted by Seattle Human Rights Commission and Seattle Commission For Sexual Minorities (9/2006)
Microsoft PowerPoint 2,521kb
Hate Crimes In Seattle forum: handout, and recommendations
hosted by Seattle Human Rights Commission and Seattle Commission For Sexual Minorities (9/2006)
Microsoft Word 408kb
Hate Crimes In Seattle forum: video
hosted by Seattle Human Rights Commission and Seattle Commission For Sexual Minorities (9/2006)