Hate crime charge for father of student involved in Monroe High School
Arraignment scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 19
MONROE — A father of a Monroe High student has been charged with a felony hate crime by the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office.
Court documents say the father lashed out at a Black student with death threats and racial epithets while he was on speakerphone during the Nov. 10 confrontation between students at Monroe High School, and later intimidated the Black student at his workplace.
Will Cunningham, 39, is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 19 in Snohomish County Superior Court. He’s under a no-contact order.
During a conversation over bullying that grew more intense, a white female, 17, escalated it by using the N-word toward a Black male multiple times. The female called her father claiming the Black male put his hands on her and then put the phone up to the Black male.
Over the phone, Cunningham told the Black male that “if I see you I’ll kill you,” according to court documents.
A white male, 18, who was part of the incident is the girl’s boyfriend.
Some three weeks later, the father harassed and intimidated the Black male by going to his place of employment to follow him around and stare at him, according to Monroe Police.
The Black male, 16, works at a big box retail store in Monroe.
The father, his daughter and her boyfriend all harassed the male at his store, the male’s mother described during a Dec. 1 Monroe Equity Council forum.
It made the Black male afraid to be at work. His mother said they showed up at her son’s work three days in a row.
The store issued the three harassers formal trespass notices, court documents say.
Unabashedly, Cunningham told a police detective his words were that he’d kill the Black male and the male’s dad, too, if he didn’t leave his daughter alone.
Court documents shed more light on how the Nov. 10 incident unfurled.
The parking lot confrontation was preceded by an incident where the white female shoved a different male in the hallway. The boyfriend was there and he said they should “take it outside,” court documents say. Later outside in the parking lot, the Black male and three of his friends approached the white female and her boyfriend.
The verbal conversation escalated into a confrontation where the Black male and the boyfriend tussled. A student in close proximity with a cell phone recorded it all.
After that, the groups separated but the white female reapproached the Black male with her father on the phone.
The video picks up parts of what Will Cunningham said, including that he would, in effect, rough up the people there bothering his daughter.
The daughter chimed in, encouraging her boyfriend to strike the Black male. Video shows she dares the Black male to hit her.
The video swiftly spread on social media.
Monroe Police said in a press release about its investigation that “we recognize the fear and trauma caused by these illegal acts. When individual rights are infringed upon by violence, threats, or other harassment, we utilize all available resources to see that justice is served under the law. While not all crimes can be prevented, we are committed to taking proactive approaches to prevent bias-based crimes from occurring.”
The police department submitted its investigation to the prosecutor’s office on Dec. 1. The prosecutor’s office filed its case Jan. 4.
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