Jimmy Matta made history this year as Burien, Washington’s first Latino mayor. Now, the former farmworker and labor organizer alleges that his ethnicity and politics have made him the target of physical assault.
In a Facebook post on July 22, Matta said he refused to let the incident quiet him. “I was physically assaulted, and verbally threatened by a male who was upset because Burien is a Sanctuary City, and I am a Latino male mayor,” he wrote. “I will not tolerate being threatened by anyone. You have the right to vote and voice your concerns; however, when you put your hands on me, I will press charges on you and have our legal system take care of you.”
I was physically assaulted, and verbally threatened by a male who was upset because Burien is a Sanctuary City, and I am…
Matta told police that a man in his 60s approached him from the back and put his hand around his neck. When the unnamed man pulled him down, Matta’s arm hit a fence post and bled. “He came around the back, took his arm, wrapped it around my neck and brought me down and started talking in my ear,” Matta told The Seattle Times. “[He whispered], ‘We’re not going to let you Latino illegals take over our city.'”
Police is investigating the reported assault as a possible hate crime. One eyewitness tried to identify the man, but police is still working to track him down.
Matta has had other encounters with the man, who has previously criticized him for his pro-immigrant views.