The King County Sheriff’s office is looking into a complaint by a 61-year-old woman who said a man accosted her outside a Safeway store in Burien on Sunday, ripped an anti-Referendum 74 sign off her vehicle and began cussing at her.
Officials with the opposing campaign said while they condemn any acts of this kind, they called such claims “well-worn” tactics their opponents have trotted out in the past.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West said the woman told officers she was sitting in her car when a man in his 20s approached. He pulled a Reject Ref. 74 sign from her car, crumpled it to the ground and began kicking the car and calling the woman names, West said.
A second woman witnessed the exchange and stepped in to help. The man allegedly called that woman a racial slur and told her to go back to Africa. West said deputies have not been able to reach a third individual who apparently also came to the 61-year-old’s defense.
A spokesman with the Preserve Marriage Washington campaign, which is seeking to repeal the state’s same-sex marriage law through Ref. 74, said the 61-year-old woman is one of their volunteers who was waiting to meet up with other volunteers to pass along campaign literature for supporters to hang on the doors of their homes.
Chip White said the woman was sitting in her car because it was raining and had the sign on her car so that the others would recognize her when they arrived.
West said there was no damage to the vehicle. She said there was no surveillance camera in the area to record what happened and that the suspect had left the scene by the time deputies arrived. She is asking anyone with information about the incident to contact the sheriff’s office at 206-296-3311.
Officials with the opposing campaign, Washington United for Marriage, said their opponents used similar tactics in California in 2008.
“They have neatly turned the basic argument – that they and their supporters are subject to harassment – into a near constant lament in the final weeks of these campaigns.”