Reflections On the Tragic Events of Last Week

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After providing an initial statement to Seattle Weekly, and receiving many emails and phone calls regarding my thoughts on last week’s events, I felt compelled to provide a full, updated statement on last week’s events in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas.

Like many others in our community and around the country I have had difficulty sleeping over the past week as I contemplate our country’s continued cycle of violence.

As a parent of young children, I continually think about how to keep them safe—from crossing the street, to keeping their small hands off stovetops, and even providing a safe home in which to live. But I have never had to think about the threat of police violence towards my children, nor the pain in having to tell them what to do to avoid it.

As parents and community members we must actively engage in conversations about anti-racist work with our children, our neighbors, our friends, and our families. I send my thoughts to the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as to communities of color in Seattle and beyond.

My heart also goes out to the families of the five police officers that were killed last Thursday in Dallas, and I hope for a quick recovery to the seven other officers who were injured. I would like to commend the Dallas Police Department for their efforts in prioritizing the safety of the public and protestors present that evening. To members of the Seattle Police Department, I can’t begin to comprehend what coming to work must feel like after the violence in Dallas – but I do wish for the safety for those that serve our great city.

As we think about the violence that has happened this past week, we must resist the urge to place blame and divide communities, whether they be police officers or those in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Instead, we must ask ourselves the very personal question of what we can personally do each day to make Seattle a more inclusive and safe place.

It’s important to reiterate today, and every day, that #BlackLivesMatter. It’s also just as important, if not more so, that we come together to reflect and take concrete, actionable steps to ensure that each community, especially Black and Brown communities, feel safe and not in fear of losing their lives whenever they interact with police.

Our City’s next hearing on the Department of Justice’s consent decree on the Seattle Police Department’s use of force and accountability efforts will be held on August 15th. I will be interested to hear what actions council can take to increase police accountability in our city. During upcoming discussions with my fellow Councilmembers, I will be emphasizing increased officer training in use-of-force and de-escalation, increasing local neighborhood representation on our police force, full use of body cameras on every officer, and the permanence of the Community Police Commission.

It is imperative that we expedite this process to assure our residents that recent violent incidents like those that have happened in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas, as well as in Seattle, are not repeated – and that we can renew our efforts to bring trust and safety to all. We must continue to engage in far-reaching, daring conversations with our families, our communities, and our city and take action for a more just world.