SEATTLE (AP) — A man has been charged with a hate crime after the windows of the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle's Chinatown International District were smashed last week.
King County prosecutors allege that Craig Milne, 76, used a sledgehammer to break windows at the museum Thursday night as people were touring an exhibit, The Seattle Times reported.
Milne, who is white, also was charged with malicious mischief for causing over $100,000 worth of property damage, according to charging documents.
Prosecutors say Milne was heard saying he had come to the Chinatown International District to cause damage and that “the Chinese” ruined his life.
When Seattle police officers arrived and arrested him, he allegedly told them that “the Chinese have tortured and tormented" him for 14 years and that he didn't regret what he did. Efforts to find an attorney for Milne who could comment on his behalf were not immediately successful Monday.
“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,” prosecutors wrote.
Milne appeared in court Friday and had bail set at $30,000. He remained in King County Jail on Monday, records showed.
The Wing Luke Museum was established in 1967 and focuses on the culture, art and history of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, according to its website.
Museum officials said on the website that the museum would be closed to the public on Monday “to allow for continued sensemaking of Thursday’s vandalism" and to do a comprehensive damage assessment.
“We appreciate the community support that we have received over the last few days,” the website message said.
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell condemned the attack in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. He said his office has been in contact with the museum to understand how his office can best support it and is working to see if repair help can be accelerated.
In 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation to curb a dramatic increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that coincided with the coronavirus pandemic. Many people attribute the trend to former President Donald Trump talking about COVID-19, which first appeared in China, in racial terms.