On June 10, 2020, OneAmerica sent a letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle City Councilmembers standing in solidarity with Seattle’s Black and Black immigrant community. Read the full letter below.
June 10, 2020
To Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle City Councilmembers,
OneAmerica writes to affirm our solidarity with Seattle’s Black and Black immigrant community.
Specifically, we call on the City of Seattle government to:
- Meaningfully defund the Seattle Police Department by at least 50%
- Re-invest those funds in community-based strategies to reduce incarceration and strengthen Black, Indigenous, immigrant and communities of color
- Respect and partner directly with the Community Police Commission, centering the community’s experience and wisdom in police accountability strategies
- Release protesters currently in custody without charges
- Commit to exploring how best to dismantle, and to dismantle the current iteration of Seattle’s Police Department, replacing it with a vision of public safety led by community leaders
As an immigrant rights organization, we know the devastating impact of family separation at the hands of government agencies, like Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection. OneAmerica’s members – immigrant, Black and brown – must navigate the consequences of racial inequity, white supremacy and abuse of power on a daily basis. To justify this violence, Immigrants are too often labeled as a “threat”. This pervasive narrative is compounded for our Black immigrant communities, and echoes the violent reality faced by our Black brothers, sisters, family and community members. Here and across the nation, police brutality committed with impunity tragically steals Black men, women and trans people from their families, communities and loved ones.
This must stop. OneAmerica has been involved in police reform and police accountability work for many years, and it is clear that Seattle has failed to create a public safety system that values Black lives. For too long, Seattle’s response to a narrative of fear of Black people has been to further militarize racism, without failing to acknowledge systemic and institutional racism. The true threat to our communities is the dehumanization of Black, indigenous, immigrant and communities of color, and the deaths of community members as a result of government enabled, armed, anti-Black racism.
We know that community programs, like healthcare, education, childcare, afterschool programs, housing, mental health services, employment and social work programs are the safety net that is true public safety. We know that communities can only be safe if community residents can thrive, and live their lives with dignity, agency, and resources.
Together, we’ve worked to reduce fear-based immigration policies and actions regardless of peoples status, and invest in supports for the immigrant community. Together we must now act and take bold, transformative action that will begin to dismantle our own City’s legacy of police violence against its own residents of color. We must center the leadership of Black communities, Black voices and Black-led organizations in order to ensure that the term “Black Lives Matter” is not made into an empty platitude by political leaders intent on protecting the systems and structures that so easily discard Black lives.
OneAmerica Executive Director