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Washington could be first state to pass approach to addressing domestic violent extremism

A proposed domestic violent extremism commission could make Washington the first to address with issue with a public health approach.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Newly released body camera footage showed the moments Seattle Police arrested a man for allegedly harassing and threatening Rep. Pramila Jayapal outside of her West Seattle home.

Brett Forsell is charged with felony stalking. Witnesses said he drove past Jayapal’s home three times and yelled obscenities and threatened to kill her. Court documents said he was armed with a loaded handgun which can be seen in the video released by police.

With threats against elected officials and violent extremism on the rise, Washington’s Attorney General's office authored a 31-page study with recommendations on ways to prevent domestic terrorism and hate crimes. The study was requested by state lawmakers like Rep. Bill Ramos.

“We’re trying to figure out why. Why now, is it becoming more of a problem than it was previously?” said Rep. Bill Ramos, (D), 5th legislative district.

The attorney general’s study recommends a violent extremism commission. A bill to establish it is currently making its way through the legislature. If passed, it would make Washington the first state in the nation to target extremism with a public health approach.

“People are just acting out with violence, versus talking about a problem and working towards a solution,” said Rep. Ramos.

The commission would look at solutions to combat disinformation and address early signs of radicalization.

“We want to figure out how to prevent it before it happens because once the violence happens, everybody's gonna suffer the consequences. All the individuals involved, all their family, friends, community, it's, it just ripples through,” said Ramos.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, Washington ranks 5th in the nation for the amount of white supremacy propaganda spread. At least 16 people from the state have been charged in connection to the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Ethan Nordean, from Auburn is currently on trial for seditious conspiracy.

“We just have to look each other in the face a little bit, see everybody's humanity, and work better together, and even if we disagree, how can we work through that and talk through it versus having a violent event,” said Ramos.

The commission would be made up of representatives from diverse groups and come back to lawmakers in two years with recommendations.

The bill is currently in committee. 

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