Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Two charged in violent hate crime against deli clerks
SEATTLE - Two people have been charged under the state's hate crime law after a surveillance camera at Saleh's Delicatessen in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood caught a confrontation between two customers and two clerks during which racial slurs, obscenities and punches were thrown.
A Seattle man and a Shoreline woman were charged Thursday afternoon with malicious harassment. The two are accused of slinging words and punches at the clerks.
Surveillance footage shows a 35-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman trying to buy beer and cigarettes.
Steven Saleh and his nephew, Fares Kasim, were behind the counter. The men say the pair appeared drunk and quickly became belligerent.
"She said we were un-American and she started calling us names like 'Arabs' and 'go back to your country' and all that," Kasim said.
"Hey guess what? You're un-American. You can't," the woman is seen saying on tape.
After the rude comments, the store clerks refused to serve the couple.
Surveillance footage shows Saleh demanding the pair to leave.
"Get out!" he says.
"Guess what, you un-American mother------!" the woman responds.
"She's drunk. She's drunk. She's drunk. Get her out of here," Saleh says to the man.
But instead of leaving with the woman, the footage shows the man lunging across the counter and trying to reach for Saleh's throat.
But Saleh manages to back up, grab a metal bar and protect himself and his nephew.
Saleh is then seen swinging the bar and hitting the man in the shoulder, but the pair still refuses to leave.
Saleh called police, who then came and arrested the pair.
Saleh says he suffered only scratches and bruises from the woman, but said the words flung at him and his nephew struck him deep.
"She kept her racial slurs throughout the incident from A to Z. She knew exactly what she was saying," Saleh said. "They were intoxicated, but they knew exactly what they were doing."
Kasim says he has worked in different grocery stores in rougher neighborhood before, but this incident really shocked him.
"I was just shocked. I mean I never seen something like this with all the racial names that she called us. She started fighting for no reason," he said.
Saleh says neighbors have overwhelmed him with support after hearing about the incident.
If convicted, the charged man and woman can get up to nine months in prison.