A 76-year-old man was charged with a hate crime on Monday after he took a sledgehammer to the façade of Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum, smashing the windows while visitors were touring an exhibit. The incident took place at around 6pm on Thursday, September 14.
According to The Seattle Times, Craig Milne stayed outside the building after striking the windows and was overheard saying he’d traveled purposefully to the city’s Chinatown International District “to cause damage.”
Museum officials called the police, who arrived nearly an hour later and arrested Milne, who was still on museum grounds. According to statements from the charging documents, Milne told the arresting officers that “the Chinese have tortured and tormented me for 14 years. I don’t regret anything I did here.” During the arrest Milne “continued making racially biased statements and expressed no remorse.”
“The blatant racist motivations behind the defendant’s actions, the extreme nature of this property destruction, the disregard for individuals who were inside the building, and the lack of remorse gives the State significant community safety concerns,” the prosecutors wrote.
Milne appeared in court on Friday, where his bail was set for $30,000. According to The Seattle Times, he was still in the Seattle’s King County Jail as of Monday. He was also charged with first-degree malicious mischief for causing more than $100,000 worth of property damage.
The museum’s museum executive director Joël Barraquiel Tan told The Seattle Times that “the attack and the damage, beyond the physical, was in part symbolic. It was targeted. It was planned.” In an interview with NPR affiliate KUOW he said that the, “hate-motivated vandalism that happened is just part of a long line, and a pattern, that tells us this is the work that is happening right now we must do” and encouraged community members to support organizations like the Chinese American Legacy Arts Project in response to the crime.
Milne had been accused of hate crimes in the past, The Seattle Times reports. In 2013 he was arrested for “allegedly attacking and repeatedly punching an Asian man in the locker room at the Spartan Recreation Center in Shoreline.” During the arrest Milne allegedly flung racial slurs at an arresting officer who was Asian, and was heard saying Asians had “ruined” his life.
According to an NBC News report on FBI data, hate crimes targeting Asians have risen sharply since the covid-19 pandemic, by more than 73 percent in 2020. According to The Seattle Times, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has filed 130 cases involving hate crimes since 2020, 20 of which were filed this year alone.