Council President M. Lorena González, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, and Spokane City Councilmember Kate Burke call on local elected leaders across Washington State to sign a pledge to reduce police brutality, and to use local city budgets to reinvest in Black and Brown communities, addressing housing displacement, economic insecurity, education, health and other root causes of trauma.
“The streets of our cities and towns are screaming with demands for bold change that will disrupt the status quo and address the impacts of racism on Black and Brown communities,” González said. “Our peers across the state have a chance to join us in this call to action to reimagine public safety and to use our positional power, as policymakers and budget decision makers, to dismantle racism in law enforcement and rebuild our public safety and justice systems,” González said.
The pledge includes reducing police brutality, use of excessive force, and racial profiling especially against Black and Brown and other marginalized communities. Elected officials also pledge to advocate for systemic and structural changes in all government programs, pushing for service programs designed, led, and overseen by the people they serve.
“Our nation has spoken and we want transformational change. Elected officials should use this momentum to advance and prioritize new systems of public safety, justice, health, and well-being that prioritize the communities who have been harmed by the status quo,” said King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay.
Kate Burke, Spokane City Councilmember, said it has become abundantly clear that the current model of policing is both unsustainable and intolerable.
“Asking armed agents of the state to address everything from traffic violations to abductions is no longer feasible. It is time to move beyond this narrow conception of public safety, one where a single department is tasked with relocating our homeless neighbors, disciplining our children, and responding to calls from individuals struggling with mental health,” Burke said. “We write the laws, approve the budgets, and sign off on the contracts that have led to and perpetuate these problems. We have the data, we know shared prosperity is the best crime prevention. In the coming days I will be working with community groups to draft legislation that redirects funding, promotes accountability, builds public safety alternatives, demilitarizes our community and re-evaluate what behaviors or acts of survival are classified as ‘crime’.”
From the pledge:
“State and local governments have collectively underinvested in and starved communities of color for centuries. Now is the time for change. Without federal government intervention, painful budget cuts may be inevitable — but they cannot mean cutting indiscriminately from the services needed to build a just recovery for our communities.”