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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane County sheriff’s candidate vows to handle ‘growing Muslim problem’

FILE _ Spokane County Sheriff candidate Michael “Scott” Maclay, who legally changed his name in May to DumpOzzie Dot Com, protests in 2015 outside Central Valley High School where Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich was speaking to a gathering of Republicans. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A candidate for Spokane County sheriff is calling for the 24-hour monitoring of Muslims and said the Muslim religion is “the only real problem in Spokane County.”

Michael “Scott” Maclay, who in May legally changed his name to DumpOzzie Dot Com, posted on his Facebook page, which doubles as his campaign website, his ideas on Saturday about “what to do about the unrestrained Muslim numbers in our Community, and Islam.”

Local Muslims are calling the candidate’s recent posts to this campaign website hate speech, and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Maclay’s missives prove his election opponent has no understanding of the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

If elected as the next “Constitutional Sheriff,” Maclay claims he will plant volunteers from the Sheriff Community Oriented Policing Effort, or SCOPE, on a ridge or the roof of the VFW Post 1435 to “monitor all the comings and goings of all suspicious activities” at the nearby Islamic Center of Spokane.

“From here, they will keep at 24-hour vigil on the compound below … patrolling the parameter (sic) with golf carts and radios, working side-by-side with the remaining FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in focusing on the only real problem in Spokane County … which, for the record, is not me,” Maclay wrote.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Maclay, who is running as an independent, refused to answer questions unless they were sent by email. He did not answer those questions in his reply, but sent links to similar comments made by President Donald Trump.

“I am saying exactly what Trump has been saying,” Maclay wrote. “It’s unfortunate that none of the Republicans in Spokane County are standing with Trump.”

Knezovich, a Republican, said Maclay needs to learn the Constitution and the Bill of Rights “because he is in direct violation of both if he was to do things like this with no reason. That’s why we have them to prevent tyrants like Mr. Maclay.”

Admir Rasic, who has attended worship services at the Islamic Center since 2007, said someone directed him to read Maclay’s post on Saturday. Rasic said Maclay’s words are another example of a continuing trend of hate speech directed at Muslims based only on their religion.

“Most Muslims in America continue to be viewed as some foreign threat no matter how we contribute to the communities,” Rasic said. “Unfortunately with how many hate crimes Muslims face, they tend to get desensitized to the rhetoric. But, it’s just not American.”

Maclay, 60, a respiratory therapist with no prior law-enforcement experience, also called Knezovich and State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, “a couple of self-serving and smelly Republican …” in his page-long campaign promise to “handle the growing Muslim problem.”

“Finally, I’m going to attend the Mosque on a regular basis, along with members of the Rattlesnakes (Motorcycle Club), in ensuring that no Anti-Constitutional or Illegal Activities are underway or taking place,” Maclay wrote.

Rasic came to the United States in 2000 after surviving the ethnic cleansing in the Bosnian War. He said his father spent time in a Serbian concentration camp and several civilian members of his family lost their lives in the conflict in the early 1990s.

“I’m afraid for my family, but we have been through worse,” he said. “It’s funny to me when (Maclay) says he’s going to come to the center. Great. It’s open to everybody. He doesn’t need an entourage. Part of the reason that people hate minority groups is because they don’t know them.”

While Rasic doesn’t support all of Knezovich’s policies, he said the sheriff has taken the time on a weekend to visit the Islamic Center and talk with its members.

“I respect Sheriff Ozzie,” Rasic said. “He is a person who is a good man. He sat down with Muslim members of the community several times to meet with us, learn our stories and have an open conversation. It’s a no-brainer for this race.”

In the meantime, Rasic has a 5-year-old daughter who must grow up at a time of growing hate speech toward his religion.

“What I tell her is be the best person she can be and have that determine what her character will be,” he said. “There are very good people out here in Spokane and across the nation who simply do not know any Muslims. I can’t think of more thoughtful and generous folks.”

Knezovich, who faces Maclay in the November election, said Maclay has many “bigoted tendencies.

“I consider everything the man has said of people, who are not of his thinking, to be very biased and racist,” Knezovich said. “Unless you agree with Scott Maclay, you are going to be a target.”