A man who was arrested after allegedly smashing the windows of Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum last Thursday was charged with a hate crime yesterday, September 18. According to court documents, 76-year-old Craig Milne, who is White, used a sledgehammer to shatter the museum’s glass windows and spewed racially biased comments while visitors were inside the building, the Seattle Times reported.
Located on South King Street in Seattle’s Chinatown International District, the Wing Luke Museum is dedicated to the culture, art, and history of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. After he smashed through the windows situated along Canton Alley South, witnesses said they heard Milne making statements such as “the Chinese ruined my life.” Milne was taken into custody when Seattle Police Department officers arrived nearly an hour later. He claimed that “the Chinese have tortured and tormented me for 14 years” and that he did not regret his actions when he was arrested, court documents state.
A police report obtained by Hyperallergic details that Milne was charged with a hate crime and one count of malicious mischief for the offenses. Hyperallergic has contacted the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO) for additional information.
“The Wing Luke Museum is grateful for the overwhelming support it has received from the community,” a museum spokesperson said in a statement. “As the museum works to support its staff and the community we serve, it is heartening to know we are surrounded by those who believe in our work. Despite the clear racial motivation of the attack, and the delayed 911 response, we will not be deterred in our mission’s work, and holding space for our staff and our community to make sense of the attack on the Museum.” The Seattle Times reported that police allegedly took 52 minutes to arrive on the scene.
Established in 1967, the Wing Luke Museum is a Smithsonian-affiliated art and history institution and “the only pan-Asian Pacific American community-based museum in the United States,” per its website. The museum is named after Wing Luke, a Chinese-American lawyer and politician who became the first Asian-American person elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest region in 1962 before he was suddenly killed in a plane crash three years into his term.
A judge set Milne’s bail at $30,000 when he first appeared in court last Friday. Milne was also arrested in 2013 for reportedly assaulting an Asian man in a locker room. When he was previously arrested, officers said that Milne was shouting racial slurs against Asian people; he also reportedly fought officers and called one Asian officer racial slurs, Seattle Times reported. He was charged with fourth-degree assault and resisting arrest, according to the newspaper.
On Friday, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said in an X post that he was “appalled” by the attack, and noted how the incident will “have lasting psychological scars on AAPI communities.” Since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of hate crimes and attacks targeting Asian people and Asian-American communities have sharply increased. The KCPAO so far has filed 20 cases involving hate crimes in 2023; there have been 130 filed cases since 2020.