A man from Tacoma, Washington was charged with a hate crime after threatening a police officer.
It all started on July 16th, when 55-year-old Mark Tolson was arrested for domestic violence against his girlfriend. According to The News Tribune, Tolson slapped his girlfriend and kicked a hole in her bedroom door where she was attempting to hide. When police arrived, the two had fled the scene.
Police found Tolson in a nearby housing complex and ordered him to get on the ground. He ignored the police and ran. When officers caught up with him, he was arrested and taken into custody. That’s when Tolson accused the arresting officer of being a “racist white cop.”
But he didn’t stop there. Tolson brought up the murder of four Lakewood Police officers who were ambushed and gunned down in 2009. He commented that those officers, “got what they deserved” and that when he got out of jail, he was going to make the officer “like them.”
The officer, whose name has not been released, took the threat very seriously. In a report, the officer wrote, “Due to the recent and increasing national threats and attacks on police officers, I perceived this threat to be viable due to Tolson’s violent criminal history and his clearly expressed racial hatred for myself and white police officers.”
Tolson was charged on Wednesday with felony harassment (for the domestic violence incident) and with malicious harassment (or hate crime) against the officer.
He pleaded not guilty and his bail was set at $80,000.
Prosecutor Mark Lindquist stated,
“Protecting the public includes protecting our officers. The officer took the defendant’s threats seriously because of recent events and so do we.”
He added, “This is the first time that I can recall when a hate crime has been charged when the victim is an officer, and further the victim is white.”
This case will be pivotal in establishing a precedent that you don’t have to be a minority for a hate crime to occur. After all, according to Washington hate crime law, the crime occurs when threats are made to individuals based on religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, ancestry, handicap, race or color.
It doesn’t specify which color is protected.