Jason Hearn, member of the Lacey City council, posted anti-Muslim comments on his Facebook that were denounced by residents. Reportedly, Hearn made several disparaging comments. At the recent council meeting, approximately 50 people showed up with several speaking against Hearn’s actions.
People in attendance came from both Olympia and Tumwater, which are communities of family and faith. Everyone who spoke up expressed great displeasure in the comments that Hearn posted. Things at one point became so heated that several people asked for an apology but even more, pushed for him to resign. Yet another attendee suggested that Hearn reach out to Muslim leadership to make amends.
Among attendees were several from Interfaith Works, an organization of multi-faith that has a mission of social change that comes from interfaith cooperation and understanding. Mary Wharton, board member read a statement saying that Hearn’s actions were poison for a community. She added that by pitting one neighbor against another, vandalism and violence could easily escalate, something witnessed before in the community.
Also in attendance was Anise Ahmed, a resident of Tumwater. He stated that he moved to the United States 34 years ago and that everyone has a right to free speech. Therefore, when an entire faith is put on the line, it hurts. Ahmed also called Hearn’s Facebook comments as being propagate Islamaphobia.
Known for his association with the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation, longtime resident of Lacey, Glen Anderson, was shocked by Hearn’s ignorant and mean-spirited comments. Based on this, Anderson called for the Lacey City Council to publicly rebuke Hearn’s behavior but also call on him to affirm respect for all demographic and religious groups in a public forum.
Adding to Anderson’s comments was Jim Bamberger of Olympia who found Hearn’s comments offensive, hateful, hurtful, and bigoted. He too asked that Hearn be formally admonished by the Council and for him to apologize and then resign. Hitting the hardest was a comment from 12-year-old Audil Osman who said that all Americans deserve the same opportunities.
After facing intense criticism, Hearn said he was happy that the Muslim community reached out to him, referring to the people who spoke out at the meeting. He also said that he was impressed with the volume of comments but more importantly, the level of sincerity. He closed by saying that he would reach out to Muslim leaders as requested.