(Reuters) - A man who claimed to be affiliated with a white supremacist group stabbed a black man in Olympia, the capital of Washington state, and told police he was lashing out at Black Lives Matter protesters, authorities said on Thursday.
The motive for the attack on Tuesday night “seems to be purely racial,” Laura Wohl, an Olympia police spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview.
Daniel Rowe, 32, was held in jail in lieu of bail of $500,000 after he was arrested for assault in connection with the attack, Wohl said.
The 47-year-old black man and his white girlfriend, who is 35, had left a bar when Rowe approached them with a “weird” smile, according to a probable cause statement filed in court.
Rowe stabbed Stevenson with a 3-inch knife and accidentally cut the woman lightly, Wohl said.
After the assailant ran off, Stevenson chased him and sent him headlong into a car, according to the probable cause statement.
The victim was treated at a hospital and released, Wohl said.
Police said Rowe had several white supremacist tattoos including “Skinhead” and the word “Hooligan” draped in a Confederate flag, according to the probable cause statement, and claimed an affiliation with a white supremacist group.
Rowe, of Richland, Washington, told investigators he was angry about a recent protest in Olympia that left buildings tagged with anti-police graffiti, Wohl said.
He told investigators he knew law enforcement officers “couldn’t hurt the black people on the street” and he would “continue the fight against all of the Black Lives Matter people,” according to the probable cause statement.
Black Lives Matter has played a key role in U.S. protests over deadly police shootings of black men and women, which have led to a national debate over discrimination and excessive use of police force.
Rowe appeared in court on Wednesday on proposed charges of assault in the second degree and malicious harassment, which in Washington state is used for hate crimes, according to the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney.
A prosecutor was expected to file formal charges soon.
Rowe’s public defender could not be reached for comment.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe