A newly formed coalition working under the Black Lives Matter rallying cry has launched an effort to urge the Washington state legislature to implement its bold agenda.
The Seattle Times reports, “a new statewide advocacy group” called the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance has started lobbying lawmakers “to address racial equity across society.” According to the outlet, the partnership was “organized in part by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County” and “emerged after a year of widespread social justice protests.”
However, neither group is affiliated with the Black Lives Matter Global Network, which reportedly took in more than $13 million last summer after George Floyd’s death sparked demonstrations and civil unrest nationwide demanding systemic change.
The Times reported that “the group is seeking a statewide declaration for Gov. Jay Inslee that racism is a public health crisis; an end to Washington’s ban on affirmative action; changes in police tactics and law enforcement accountability; investments in Black arts and culture; and more education funding through a new tax on capital gains.”
The alliance “also wants to prohibit the disclosure of bankruptcies, convictions and evictions on rental applications,” the report said.
“It’s a broad push, recognizing that racism is in every facet of our lives,” said Marlon Brown, a steering committee member for the alliance, in an interview with the Times. “It’s never happened, we’re going to be pushing at all of these at the same time.”
Mr. Brown is part of BLM Seattle-King County. The Washington BLM Alliance’s website says that the group is “led by Black leaders working for Black communities across the state” and “represents a mandate from the people: to protect and liberate Black Lives.” It vows to “carry the fight from the streets to Olympia this January.”
The steering committee also includes Dr. Shari Clark, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Eastern Washington University; Kiantha Duncan, President of the NAACP’s Spokane chapter; KJ January, Constituency Outreach Manager at the Washington State Democratic Party; Michelle Merriweather, President and CEO at Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, and others.
Representatives from Gov. Inslee’s office have met with the coalition members and plan to continue talks in the future. In an email to the Times, Inslee spokesman Mike Faulk reportedly said the governor’s vision is “broadly aligned” with the objectives put forth by the alliance.
The Washington BLM Alliance promises not to stop until:
Black culture is honored, protected and celebrated.
Black people have the resources to pursue economic freedom and build generational wealth.
Black people have the same expectation of safety that others have and are not subjected to extrajudicial punishment.
The physical and mental health of Black people is a priority.
Black children are supported in education.
Black people and families are safely housed.
And the treaties are honored. Because indigenous sovereignty and Black liberation are intertwined.
Other priorities include increasing Washington’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, ending youth incarceration, ending contracts with private prisons, stopping the enforcement of mandatory minimum sentences, ending money bail and pre-trial detention, making police accountable, extending the evictions moratorium until 2025, defunding school police, to “ensure access to culturally responsive childcare” and “ensure Black communities have food access and security for all.”
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