Many of us in Snohomish are asking ourselves and each other that very question. Now that we've made our anger known, our grief felt, and have consolidated our passions into a united “Enough is enough,” where do we go from here?
While there are many hard yet thoughtful conversations to be had in our community, we know we must focus on the values we have in common and set them as the baseline for moving forward, despite our fears. So, many of us are asking the City of Snohomish to start with these five things.
First, we stand with other citizens of Snohomish and ask Mayor Kartek to retract his official statement from Monday and apologize to the community. Its intention, we are sure, was good however positive intent with massively detrimental impact is intolerable. Remaining neutral is not acceptable if we are to make progress as a community to dismantle the policies and practices in our city that lead to racism and discrimination.
Being soft-spoken and downplaying the presence of armed racists in our community who capered on the very real fears of our citizens only provides sanctuary to their hate-based values and does nothing to strip those evil factions in our community of their unearned power. We see that. People of color see that. Recycling a resolution from 2018 is not good enough. Mayor Kartak, take back what you said and come forward with a clear, strong message that racists are not allowed in our town. Period.
Second, we demand that Chief Keith Rogers and the Snohomish Police Department act now and fully adopt all eight of the policies outlined by Campaign Zero called #8cantwait. Research in communities around the country show that these policies decrease police violence by 72%. https://8cantwait.org/
Third, the Mayor and City Council need to promise to review the use of force in our community and then be further committed to reforming these policies. The statements in the past week from former U.S. Presidents clearly demonstrate that ending systemic racism is bipartisan. Snohomish citizens are demanding leadership and therefore, we ask Mayor Kartak and the City Council to, at minimum, use as a guideline the Mayor’s Pledge to show us that political labels do not take precedence over our community’s values of human dignity and tolerance. https://www.obama.org/mayor-pledge/
Fourth, the Snohomish School District and Snohomish for Equity were working together on addressing inadequate policies in our schools regarding equity and protecting our children of color from racism. This work has fallen away as a priority due to COVID-19. We ask Superintendent Kent Kultgen to bring SFE back to the table immediately to continue the work with increased urgency and renewed understanding of the depth of these issues in our city and our district.
Finally, for all of us in Snohomish, we must realize that going forward, not being racist is also not good enough. To drive back the malignant forces and danger that is threatening our men, women, and children of color in our communities, we must be antiracist and mindfully practice this.
To do this means we become educated about how racism has and still affects people of color and indigenous people. We learn how racism is woven into the policies, procedures, and practices in businesses, governments, and schools, as well as the unspoken rules these institutions operate with in our community. And we must do the hard work to learn how white people, sometimes unknowingly, participate in racism through our language, behaviors, and status and commit to raising our own awareness and to change.
Asking ourselves if we have been doing enough is hard especially when we must be honest and see that the answer is “No.” It is not enough to just know there is racism in our community. Instead, it is crucial to be aware that we, as individuals, are critical to dismantling it in Snohomish. To start on this journey, we suggest seeking resources provided by people of color, such as L. Glenise Pike’s Anti-Racism Starter Kit at https://www.wherechangestarted.com/
You can also find resources by people in our community at the Snohomish for Equity website (http://www.snohomishforequity.org/) and participate in the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge or invite them to your organization to teach your employees, parishioners, or students about diversity, inclusion and equity.
In the last several days, our community has seen firsthand that having a sense of safety is a privilege and it is not equal for all. There are many people with many voices that deserve to be heard. We have had heartbreaking, tearful gatherings already, but we know that there are still more to come. We have many unanswered questions about our community and of ourselves.
And so, while many still ask, “Now what,” we believe, even if it’s not perfect, it is important we start here.
If you agree, send an email to the City Council, the Mayor, the Chief of Police, and the School District to let them know you support the actions we are suggesting.
Mayor John T. Kartak: Kartak@snohomishwa.gov
Linda Redmon, City Council: Redmon@snohomishwa.gov
Judith Kuleta, City Council: email@example.com
Steve Dana, City Council: Dana@snohomishwa.gov
Larry Countryman, City Council: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Merrill, City Council: mailto:Merrill@SnohomishWA.gov
Jason Sanders, City Council: email@example.com
Donna Ray, City Council: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keith Rogers, Snohomish Chief of Police: email@example.com
Kent Kultgen, Superintendent of the Snohomish School District: firstname.lastname@example.org