SomalilandpressComments (8) Seattle, WA (Somalilandpress) — A woman from Burien, Washington has been charged with a hate crime for physically and verbally assaulting two Muslim women at a Tukwila gas station last weekend.
The incident occurred at a Tukwila AM/PM gas station on Saturday evening when, according a charging documents, 37-year-old Jennifer Leigh Jennings accosted two Muslim women from Somali decent, calling them “terrorists” and “suicide bombers” before physically attacking them.
The victims, who do not want to be identified for fear of reprisal, are both of Somali decent and were wearing traditional Muslim attire.
The Washington chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations held a press conference Thursday morning to denounce the attack and raise awareness for what some see as a recent spike in Muslim hate crimes.
At the press conference, both victims said they are now afraid to leave their homes or show their faces in the community. Both are U.S. citizens and both called the incident “un-American.”
Jennings, who is also known as Jennifer Leigh Adams, was charged today with two counts malicious harassment, the state’s hate crime statute, for using the victims’ “race, ancestry, and nation of origin” as reason for the attack, prosecutors said.
The attack occurred as victims were trying to pump gas at the station after paying the clerk, but the pump had not been activated.
According to court documents, Jennings saw the pair trying to fill their gas tank and told the victims they should “go back to your country” after calling them “suicide bombers.”
One of the victims described how the incident began.
“A lady on the other side (of the gas station) drives up and starts verbally assaulting me,” she said. “She’s calling me a suicide bomber, a terrorist. She’s saying, ‘What are you doing here? Are you trying to bomb our gas stations? Our country?’”
Police said the victims did not respond to Jennings’ taunts, but when one of the two went back in the store to get the clerk to activate the pump, Jennings slammed their car door on the legs of the other victim.
The woman then got out of the car and Jennings kicked her, according to police.
The attack shook both victims to the bone, and they hope it opens people’s eyes about the seriousness of hate crimes.
“As Muslims, we’re human beings and we deserve the same respect as everybody else,” one victim said. “This country is a melting pot and there’s so many diverse people, I think we should all respect each other and (each other’s) space.”
Jennings was arrested arrested the scene and while being transported to jail told a police officer “Ya, I shouldn’t of called them sand (expletive) or other stuff like that.”
Jennings is scheduled to be arraigned November 2.
By Mohamed H. Gulaid