Patricia Lally was on the bus going downtown from her West Seattle home when a man began uttering racially offensive statements.
“And I found myself so surprised and wondering what should I do?” she said.
The irony of that is not lost on Lally -- she’s the director of Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights.
“At the very time, our office was creating the hotline for people like me to call in and share that kind of a concern,” she said.
On Wednesday, her office launched that hotline. If you witness or are the victim of discrimination or harassment, Lally’s office wants to hear from you.
The hotline is part of the office’s “Bias Hurts” campaign and a larger effort to address discrimination in the city.
Lally, a former prosecutor who identifies as Latina, said the episode on the bus happened around the presidential inauguration. The man, who was white, was referencing the election. Lally said this had never happened to her before in Seattle.
She said that what stood out to her the most about that day was that people on the bus took action.
Riders asked the man to stop, but eventually the bus driver called the police and pulled over to meet them.
Lally says the experience informed her work on the “Bias Hurts” campaign, which focuses on education, community engagement and intervention.
The hotline number is 206-233-7100. Find out more on the city’s website. To report bias-related crime, call 911.