An Armed Man Targeted Rep. Japayal At Her Home


U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) was seemingly the target of a hate crime by a local man armed with a handgun, who a neighbor allegedly heard yelling at the congressperson “Go back to India” at her Seattle home on Saturday, July 11. Since then, some have wondered why the story hasn’t gotten much national coverage – especially as members of the Supreme Court have had their own security protections heightened, courtesy of Congress, in the wake of the Roe v. Wade ruling.

Brett Allen Forsell, 48, was arrested Saturday after police were called to Jayapal’s home; the Representative called 911 after hearing obscenities yelled outside her home. Police found the man standing in the street, with a gun holstered on his waist. According to reporting, a neighbor of Jayapal’s told police they heard the man yell something along the lines of, “Go back to India. I’m going to kill you.”

Forsell had repeatedly contacted and harassed Rep. Jayapal, the Seattle Times reported, emailing her office with criticism in January and driving by and shouting obscenities at her home throughout June, as noted in an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) petition against Forsell. In an interview with police, Forsell’s mother said she did not think it was a good idea for him to have access to firearms because of his mental state, according to the Seattle Times. Police were able to obtain a temporary ERPO against Forsell on Wednesday, which would require him to give up his firearms and concealed pistol license, due to concerns surrounding his mental health. “We are glad the extreme risk protection order was obtained,” a Jayapal spokesperson told the Seattle Times via email.

On July 13, Seattle police released the man without charges after being unable to confirm for certain the specific language used during the incident, per the King County prosecutors’ office; the police investigation is ongoing and prosecutors may still file a criminal case. Footage shared with a detective on the case by Jayapal’s husband, from their home’s security cameras, caught the end of the word “India” as well as an “expletive-laden rant directed at Jayapal,” according to the ERPO petition, as noted by the Seattle Times. A spokesperson for the prosecutors’ office called the story “disturbing and unacceptable” in an email to the publication that day, confirming the investigation was ongoing.

Advocates criticized what they saw as a lack of media coverage for an alleged hate crime against a sitting member of Congress – indeed, America’s first Indian-American congresswoman. “There have been over 11,000 hate incidents against Asian Americans last year and nearly 600 more every month. These hate crimes are rarely reported on the news – even this story about a member of Congress has barely been covered by national media,” Neil Makhija, executive director of Indian American Impact, which works to increase progressive Indian American representation in office, said in a statement.

The sentiment was echoed by the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network. “At a time when national media has put so much focus on the safety of Supreme Court justices and elected officials in D.C., it is heartbreaking to see how little attention the members of the elite political bubble have been paying to this alarming attack on a prominent and powerful immigrant woman of color in Congress,” the group said in a statement.





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