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A police officer in Seattle is under investigation by the Office of Police Accountability for allegedly being dismissive of a victim’s complaint at a Home Depot.
Kert Lin, a school teacher, took to social media to reveal that he was the target of racist remarks at the Home Depot store in the neighborhood of SoDo last week, KUOW reports.
In a Facebook post, Lin narrated that he was on the way to the store when he was cut off by a driver at 2701 Utah Ave South. Upon reaching the parking lot, the driver who had cut him off allegedly called him a “Ch*nk,” a racial slur against Asians before adding, “Open your eyes, go back to China.”
Lin said the driver then tried to provoke him to get out of his car as he called 911 to report the incident. Lin then took photos of the man, his truck and the license plate.
“Three men got out of their vehicle and security did not address them,” Lin shared. “Security told me don’t even bother calling the police. They were welcomed to the store and did their shopping. They smiled at me and waved as they left.”
When he approached the manager on duty at the store, he was told that there was nothing they could do because “we do not control what others do.”
According to Lin, at least one of the managers in the store was more supportive. However, a customer care team representative at Home Depot headquarters was just as dismissive as the first manager he spoke with.
A Seattle police officer arrived shortly after and told him that no crime had occurred since he was not “physically threatened.” Lin identified him in his post as Officer Jones.
Officer Jones’ argument runs counter to an earlier statement by Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, urging people to call 911 to report bias incidents.
Best had previously addressed the growing incidents of racist harassment of Asian Americans related to the COVID-19 pandemic several times.
Lin says Best called him to apologize after his Facebook post became widely shared online.
In an interview with Seattle TV news anchor Lori Matsukawa, Best said, “We will document and investigate every reported hate crime. Even racist name-calling should be reported to police. We take this information very seriously.”
However, Lin got the cold shoulder from SPD when he reported it. In the end, the officer who took his complaint immediately concluded that the men did nothing illegal as they were using their “First Amendment rights.”
When Lin asked the officer what the police were instructed to do in cases of racial abuse, he was told that “there’s no protocol, no directive.”
In a statement, the SPD indicated that the Office of Police Accountability is already looking into how the officer handled the situation.
Lin has since stated that he wants the department to hold itself accountable for the mishandling of his complaint, reports King5.
“The police department is meant to serve us,” he noted. “And I do expect them to do their job the right way. And so I really want the focus to be on the department’s response.”