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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 29, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 31
Race-baiting charges surface in 9th Congressional District race
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Race-baiting charges surface in 9th Congressional District race

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Ninth Congressional District candidate Jesse Wineberry says a Seattle Times editorial misquoted him as questioning 'the ability of a white man to represent the first congressional district in our state with a majority of residents who are racial or ethnic minorities.'

'In a time when there is so much racial divisiveness in our country, we don't need a newspaper to pour kerosene on the fire,' Wineberry said at a July 28 press conference at First AME Chruch on Capitol Hill.

One of Wineberry's rivals, Republican candidate Doug Basler, also attended the presser to back him up.

In the editorial, the Times endorsed incumbent Rep. Adam Smith.

After the editorial appeared, Wineberry says, he received an intimidating racist phone call at his campaign office, many of his campaign signs were vandalized, and he was unjustifiably arrested by Seattle police.

Wineberry's story begins in June, when he, Smith, and Basler attended a joint endorsement interview at the Times office. Two weeks later, Wineberry says, the newspaper announced its endorsement of Smith and falsely attributed the racially charged remark to Wineberry. The Times ignored Basler completely.

Basler said he was angry when he read the Times editorial.

'I was angry I was not mentioned,' he said at the press conference, 'but I was even more angry that [Wineberry] was misquoted. I know he's an honorable guy.'

Basler then called Wineberry and offered to help him refute the Times account of their interview.

'I never made that statement,' Wineberry insisted at the press conference, 'and they know I never made that statement.

'I am an early supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is both white and male. I was elected not once but twice to represent [the 43rd Legislative District], which is predominantly white. I was elected to represent [the 37th Legislative District], which is predominantly white.

'I represented everybody, and I will represent everybody [in the 9th Congressional District], just like our first African-American president represents everybody.'

Wineberry represented the 43rd District from 1984 to 1992, when redistricting moved him into the 37th District. He ran for and won a seat from his new district, which he represented from 1992 to 1994.

Wineberry has called on the Times to admit its error in misquoting him and publish a transcript of the interview, 'or allow us - Doug Basler and myself - to do a joint editorial refuting their statement.'

He also called on Rep. Adam Smith to 'denounce' the Times for inaccuracy. Smith has not yet commented on the charges.

'I'm an attorney,' Wineberry said in response to a question. 'I won't make charges I can't prove. I'm not charging that Adam Smith influenced the editorial, but it does shock me that he hasn't spoken up about it. He has to take a stand.'

Asked if he wanted his supporters to call the Times and protest, Wineberry held up a ballot and said that 'the most important thing you can do is right here. The ultimate weapon is this ballot, and this will send the strongest message to the Times editorial writer.'

Unjustified arrest Wineberry also showed a video of his arrest on July 20, near Safeco Field. Shot by a campaign worker who was on the scene, the video shows Wineberry surrounded by five or six police officers, some of whom are restraining his arms behind his back.

At one point, an officer standing in front of Wineberry can be heard saying 'Get your hand off my gunbelt!'

Wineberry then shouted, 'That's code! That's code! I can't touch your gunbelt!'

'I got a chill, I felt my life was in danger,' Wineberry recalled. 'I saw Trayvon [Martin] flash. I saw Michael [Brown] flash. I saw Che Taylor flash,' all African-Americans whose killers were exonerated after claiming they felt they were in danger.

'If you say 'He reached for my gun,' then you can justify using deadly force.'

Wineberry was handcuffed, put in a patrol car, and taken to a South Precinct holding cell. There it transpired that a van Wineberry had rented to carry campaign volunteers was overdue, the campaign aide who was charged with extending the rental agreement had not followed through, and the rental company had reported the vehicle as stolen.

'I don't blame the police for stopping the vehicle once it was reported as stolen,' Wineberry explained, 'but I do blame them for the unnecessary arrest - I told them the rental agreement was right in the glove compartment - and I do blame them for the threat of violence.

'I was one step away from what would have been ruled a justifiable homicide.'

Basler, the Republican, agreed. 'When I saw the video, I got a chill too,' he said. 'Because I thought, 'His life is in danger right now.'

Although South Precinct officers told him he was free to go without being booked, Wineberry insisted on remaining in custody until he could file a racial-profiling complaint. He was told that a copy of the complaint would be sent to him, and is still waiting more than a week later, he said.

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