Earlier this summer a concerned crew member of a Washington State ferry boat snapped pictures of two men who had raised suspicions on several ferry rides by asking questions about structural details and entering areas of the boats that are off limits.
Now, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation released two photographs of the men to the public with the goal of identifying them, a debate has erupted over alleged racial profiling, one ferry was shut down briefly this week and the men, while suddenly familiar faces, remain unidentified.
“We have some promising leads that have come in since we published the pictures,” said Larry Carr, a special agent with the Seattle field office of the F.B.I. The agency released the images on Monday.
The pictures show two men with dark hair and olive skin standing beside a ferry deck railing overlooking the water. Their hands are in their pockets. Their eyes look toward the camera. In a statement released that day, the agency said the men had “exhibited unusual behavior.” The behavior “may have been innocuous,” the agency said, but law enforcement “would like to resolve these reports.”
The F.B.I. has emphasized that the men are not suspects in a crime and that no threats have been made to the ferry system. But two days after the pictures were released, one ferry, the Puyallup, was shut down for an hour at the main Seattle terminal. Officials said an object found in a men’s bathroom during a routine security sweep prompted the action. The object turned out not to be dangerous, and it was not linked to the two men. . .
Arsalan Bukhari, president of the Seattle chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and an attendee at the Thursday meeting, said, “We didn’t come out of the meeting feeling more hopeful.” Mr. Bukhari said releasing the photographs implied some kind of guilt and “mobilized the wrong kind of people to look for” the men. “It raises the fear factor,” he said. (MORE)