SPOKANE, Wash. — Community members across Spokane are reacting to the racist comments made by the wife of Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Haskell. According to a report from the Inlander, Lesley Haskell used the N-word on a social media website.
Haskell has since apologized for his wife's comments and tried to distance himself from the controversy.
Lesley Haskell made the comments on Gab, a social media website commonly used by far-right individuals. Among her posts, Lesley Haskell called MSNBC host Joy Reid the N-word, typing out the full word in a comment.
Spokane Defense Attorney Bevan Maxey said his heart was broken when he heard the news. Maxey is the son of Carl Maxey, Spokane's first Black attorney, and represents people facing charges brought forth by Larry Haskell's office.
"I was out of town when the news broke. And I got to say, I comment on that with a heavy heart because I've known Mr. Haskell for a long time," Maxey said. "And I want to say that he's always been decent with me and very professional, but I think, unfortunately, the position is much more than the individual."
Posts on social media have expressed concerns about Larry Haskell's role as county prosecutor in light of his wife's comments. Maxey said he understands why people are concerned.
"I think certainly, that's a natural tendency. People are going to want to look to see, is there some connection based upon the comments and what's really been implemented?" he explained. "And I'm not sure that anyone's going to find something specific in that regard. I do know that Mr. Haskell tries to be professional."
Kurtis Robinson is the executive director of I Did the Time, a movement working to end mass incarceration, and the vice president of the Spokane Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He issued a statement on Lesley Haskell's comments on Thursday, stating in part:
I am and have been deeply concerned about the issues concerning our local prosecutor, the disparities occurring in our criminal justice system for people of color under his tenure as well as the outwardly racist behavior surrounding his spouse.
Larry Haskell also issued a statement regarding his wife's comments, stating in part:
I want to strongly reassure everyone that what was expressed in the Inlander, as my wife's comments, are not my views nor the views of the prosecutor's office – nor should they ever be. No amount of republishing of her social media posts will make that so. I have never and will never use such language. I apologize for the language and content as contained in the article.
Haskell also said in his statement he doesn't tolerate racial bias or discrimination.