Friday June 19, 2020 at 12:15 at The Spokane Tribal Gathering Place (outside City Hall), SCAR and its partner organizations unveiled their full Platform for Change..
PLATFORM FOR CHANGE— RESPONDING TO THIS MOMENT
RELEASED: June 19, 2020
Spokane Community Against Racism (SCAR) and Asian Pacific Islander Coalition (APIC) – Spokane Chapter, Eastern Washington Progressives, Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience, FUSE Washington, Greater Spokane Progress, Hispanic Business/Professional Association, MAC Movement, Muslims for Community Action And Support, Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS), Planned Parenthood Advocates of Greater Washington and North Idaho, Progressives of Spokane County, RAIZ of Planned Parenthood, Red Skirt Society, SHAWL Society, Smart Justice Spokane, Spectrum Center Spokane, Spokane Alliance, Spokane Ministers’ Fellowship, Tenants Union of Washington State, demand transformational change.
Spokane has a problem.
American policing tactics are rooted in white supremacy, fear, and violence. Spokane is not exempt from this, even though our mayor, police chief, county commissioners, and sheriff refuse to admit the true nature of the problem. In fact, Spokane has the 5th deadliest police force in the nation. We must end the cycle of fear and violence in our community and seize the opportunity during this tumultuous time to enact structural changes.
Death at the hands of police is not the only measure of racial violence. Here in Spokane, Black and Native Americans are disproportionately arrested, receive higher bail amounts, and are more likely to die in jail than whites. Our city and county officials know this. They have hired several consultants for millions of dollars to tell them so, yet they continue to ignore the good advice we all paid for.
We don’t trust them to understand, because they keep proving they are not listening.
At the invitation of the city and county, community members have spent thousands of hours sharing their testimony and lived experience in the name of community engagement. Yet elected officials have failed to honor this engagement by fulfilling their promises to decarcerate and advance racial equity.The residents of Spokane have fought officials numerous times to avoid building a new jail. Still—despite the wishes of the community—the County Commissioners and the Sheriff’s office continue to pursue a new, larger jail without first enacting the totality of humane, cost effective reforms which have been recommended to them over the past decade.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich continues to defend bringing the creator of “Killology,” a method of police training that teaches officers how to “…overcome the powerful reluctance to kill…” to train his deputies. He has doubled down on his support for killology training despite receiving thousands of petition signatures calling for the two-day seminar and workshop to be canceled. Spokane demands transformation. The unwillingness of the Mayor, Police Chief, County Commissioners, Sheriff, and other elected officials to heed expert advice and community lived experience, their stubborn insistence on expanding incarceration and entrenched racist systems, and their failure to listen to the community, convinces us that the elected leadership of Spokane does not grasp—or is not willing to meet—the needs of our community. We do not need more studies, consultants, conversations, forums, or media stunts. We are not interested in incremental change, but in drastic action.
To that end, we present the following Platform for Change. While we cannot hope to provide every comprehensive detail of necessary policy, we know the shape that change must take. This is the product of ongoing work within our community and around the country and is meant to serve as a mandate—it’s up to our leaders to help us all live up to its intent.
PLATFORM FOR CHANGE
DEFUND THE POLICE: INVEST IN COMMUNITY
SCAR rejects the idea that the only way to increase public safety is to increase policing. The power of state-sanctioned force and threat of lethal violence wielded by police is often inappropriate and inadequate to address the diversity of situations they are sent to resolve. Police are frequently tasked with handling homelessness, addiction, mental health, intimate partner violence, and other conditions in which they have no formal expertise; the result is often harm, injury, or even death for those whom the police are supposed to protect. The weight of these injuries and deaths falls most heavily upon people with medical or mental health conditions, people of color—particularly Black and indigenous people—and people with disabilities. This is not a problem that can be solved with more training. Expanding the power or authoritative scope of police in our communities will not make us safer.
Instead, SCAR embraces a holistic vision of public safety, one that accounts for the root causes of crime, and recognizes that shared prosperity and community care are at the heart of a safe and healthy society. When people’s basic needs are met, and experts are empowered to work within their expertise, communities are free to flourish. The City of Spokane and Spokane County will be safer when our leaders follow the advice of their expensive consultants, and the best practices indicated by decades of research in this and other cities. We demand investment in historically underserved communities to create a vibrant and healthy environment where all families can thrive:
Addiction and Mental Health Services
We demand public investment in culturally appropriate chemical addiction treatment and mental health services and diversion programs. These services should include crisis care, long-term in-patient, and out-patient care. Police are not mental health professionals and incarceration should not be a stopgap for healthcare or an underfunded social safety net.
SPS has the largest school policing budget in Washington State at $2.2 Million. That’s $2.2 Million spent to support the School-to-Prison Pipeline, a system which disproportionately funnels children of color from educational settings into the criminal justice system. Using police to address student behavior positions students as potential criminals who require management through the threat of legal and physical force, instead of recognizing them as children who are learning to manage conflict and their emotions.
We demand investment in school counselors, restorative conflict resolution practices, and activity programming which provides youth with constructive outlets and interpersonal learning environments. The ACLU of Washington has been at the forefront of this issue, listen to them.
CHANGE POLICE CULTURE
Public trust in the SPD is broken. It’s the 5th deadliest police force in the nation, and officers have been using the same knee-on-neck restraint that killed George Floyd until June 8th, 2020. We believe it is necessary to start fresh.
Disband the Police
Disband the police department, and hire a smaller group of officers to carry out narrowly defined, law-enforcement duties. In 2016, the Police Leadership Advisory Committee (PLAC) put together recommendations for the hiring of a new police chief. These recommendations, which could have helped revolutionize the culture of the SPD, were ignored. We believe these recommendations should be applied to all officers hired to work in the City of Spokane. PJALS has been deeply involved in this work, listen to them.
De-escalation Training for SPD and County Forces
While we do not believe the fundamental problems with American policing can be trained away, we support the will of Washington State Voters who voted decisively in favor of Initiative 940. Passed in 2018, Initiative 940 requires police receive training in de-escalation and mental health, and enforces the duty of all police officers to render first aid. It is our hope that with these tools police will be less likely to use lethal force, and that when they do, that force is less likely to result in death.
De-escalation and mental health training have the potential to not only act as positive tools in the current policing toolbelt, but to provide an additional standard to which police can be held accountable.
Demilitarize the Police
Our city is not a warzone, and weapons of war should not be used on our streets. This includes tear gas—a chemical weapon which is banned by the Geneva convention—and all repurposed military surplus equipment. Military uniforms, vehicles, and weaponry communicate to the residents of Spokane that the police view them as enemy combatants. Furthermore, militarized uniforms encourage a “warrior” mindset in police, which emphasizes readiness for violent conflict over the relationship-based work of building community trust. Spokane does not need street warriors, Spokane needs public servants we can trust; from their uniforms to their equipment, police should be equipped for the job that is needed.
Independent Oversight with Investigative Power is a necessity at the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
No Contract without Office of Police Ombudsman Independence
We demand that the Office of Police Ombudsman (OPO) be empowered to conduct independent investigations and publish public closing reports. We demand that the OPO be free to conduct these independent investigations without fear of reprisal by the Police Guild.
A poison pill amendment to the Police Guild’s contract with the City of Spokane, which is still being negotiated, would allow the Police Guild to preemptively file a grievance against an Ombudsman candidate in an effort to prevent their appointment. It further empowers the Guild to attempt to have the Ombudsman or an OPO Commission Member removed for “exceeding their authority under the collective bargaining agreement.” Police cannot control the fate of the body that oversees them. We demand that the Spokane City Council reject any contract that fails to protect OPO independence.
NO CONTRACT without independent investigative power and public closing report. NO CONTRACT with police guild oversight of the OPO.
Mandatory body cameras for SPD and County Forces
Body cameras should be mandatory for every SPD officer and County deputy as a tool for reviewing police encounters with Spokane residents. Body cameras do not prevent violence, but they can be valuable for holding the police accountable. Turning off a body camera should come with an automatic charge of destroying evidence.
We urgently need to adopt effective, restorative policy solutions that are driven by the needs of those impacted by our justice system.
We demand divestment from the prison industrial complex: NO NEW JAIL; end policies that criminalize poverty, homelessness, and addiction; end cash bail; and end draconian drug charging decisions by the County Prosecutor’s office.
Instead, the city and county should invest in racial equity tools throughout our justice system; release criminal justice system demographic data; and adopt least-restrictive alternatives to jail with fully funded pretrial services. Smart Justice Spokane has been leading on these issues, and we demand our government listen to and collaborate with them.
Impartial judges are the ideal, but we know that their decisions are vulnerable to the forces of systematic oppression and unconscious bias. For this reason we demand that the county, in cooperation with the courts, release sentencing data dis-aggregated by judge and defendant’s demographic information, including race and gender. With this data, voters—and the community groups who help keep them informed—will be empowered to identify racial sentencing disparities, and if necessary, right them at the ballot box.
Establish an Office of Civil Rights
The City of Spokane needs a fully funded and staffed Office of Civil Rights. This office would work within the City government to advance civil rights and end barriers to equity. It would regularly assess the city’s approach to racial equity, and provide education and training to government and local entities. The Office of Civil rights would receive civil rights complaints from the residents of Spokane, address hate crimes, and ensure that laws against illegal discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and contracting within Spokane city limits are equitably enforced. The Office of Civil Rights Exploratory Committee and Greater Spokane Progress are already working on the structure of this office. Listen to and collaborate with them.
These are just some of the changes that Spokane needs. These demands are rooted in the data-backed reality, and the spiritual conviction, that a punitive approach to public safety has never, and will never, yield a free and equitable society.
Policing can no longer be the bandaid we affix to every social wound. Instead, we must build a Spokane where everyone is free to thrive. The time for incrementalism and half measures is past. This community demands transformation, and will continue to do so in statements, in public meetings, at the ballot box, and in the streets. It is up to our leadership to listen, and to do the jobs for which they were elected. The people are watching.
There are mobilizers and there are organizers. The demonstrations you have seen and participated in for George Floyd here and across the globe have been successful mobilization events. What is needed now is grassroot organization.
The map on the left are the communities in Spokane where this discussion needs to take place. Suggestions of what you can do in your community are at this link: Mobilizing to Organizing
Sunday June 7, 2020 started off at 10:30 am with meditation and yoga exercises at the Red Wagon. At 2:00 pm the NAACP had one of the largest outside rallies in Spokane’s history. The tone of this rally was set by Kurtis Robinson, Kiantha Duncan, and Le’Taxione. Kurtis Robinson welcomed a large standing crowd at the Lilac Bowl. Kiantha Duncan followed asking everyone to sit down on the grass and center themselves. She had three messages that she wanted to deliver to three groups of people. She thanked all who showed up to nonviolently express their outrage and disappointment with police brutality throughout the country. If there were those who came looking for trouble with signs with hateful speech, she wanted them to take those signs and sit on them. Then she called upon all law enforcement agents to obey the law and treat all demonstrators with respect and human dignity. My observation was that there were no visible signs of law enforcement. Le’Taxione told the audience that he was not speaking to make anybody feel good, he was there to express his strong objections to brutality and the status quo. But he made it quite clear he and the youth he brought would not allow anybody to hijack this peaceful demonstration. If so, they would be escorted out of town. These photographs bear witness to the unified desire that everyone should receive equal justice.
After your demonstrations at the Red Wagon or City Hall you could:
Ask 5 of your new or trusted friends for their email addresses and mobile phone numbers so you can set up a meeting regularly via Zoom to discuss strategies and planned measurable actions. Assign someone to send information about the measurable actions you plan to email@example.com so they can be shared at the website 4comculture.com. Hopefully when the city opens up and you can have meetings in public places such as coffee shops you will be able to have these discussions face-to-face.
If you can find 4 people that will accompany you to an arterial in your neighborhood each could stand on a corner displaying their signs for an hour or more
Walk up and down the block or cul-de-sac where you live with your sign and handout sharing why you march and what others can do to help. This is something you can do alone.
Stand in front of the house you live in with your sign and have a discussion about why you march with anybody that will join you. Have two socially distant chairs nearby.
Being Black I am always visible! I am asking you to shed your invisibility.
History Lesson On Organizing
Kwame Ture: Converting the Unconscious to Conscious
Robert Lloyd, Spokane Civic Activist, May 30, 2020
What do you want?
By now we’ve all seen what’s happening in Minneapolis, Detroit, Louisville, Atlanta, New York, Washington DC, Phoenix, Denver, Columbus, Dallas, Chicago, Memphis, Bakersfield, Albuquerque, Los Vegas, Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and more – twenty plus and growing – due to the killing of Floyd. The question is why and who benefits from these protests. We all know the why – systemic racism and injustice for people of color and the poor. But who benefits?
We have all seen this before – be it Martin Luther King’s death Memphis, be it the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles, the Chicago fire truck killing, be it Ferguson, Trayvon Martin in Florida, Eric Garner in New York, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Orlando Castile in Minnesota. The lists goes on. The question is “Who benefits?”.
All of these demonstrations had three components. There are those who want to mourn. The parents and loved ones will bring flowers, teddy bears and pictures of the person lost.
There are those who will hold non-violent protests. The politicians, the ministers and the status quo organizations will express their dissatisfaction with articulate speeches and venting rhetoric.
Here are some of those who on Sunday May 31 between 2 and 4 pm non-violently protested the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. They met at 2 pm at Spokane’s Riverfront Park and marched to the Spokane County Courthouse and Spokane City Courthouse/Jail. I asked those pictured here to tell us in their own words WHY THEY MARCHED.
And then there are those who will co-opt your non-violent protests. The extreme left and right, the anarchists and those who would like to destroy your community, institutions and trust with violence and chaos and destruction. Sometime after 5 pm and late into the evening groups like this looted downtown Spokane stores, broke windows and had confrontations with police that resulted in their use of flash bangs, bean bags, rubber bullets, and tear gas canisters.
After demonstrations like this people will go back home to cynicism, apathy, complacency, self-medication and risky behavior, and party and bull shit and party and bull shit. And there will be no change. The question should be what is it that you want and what is the price you are willing to pay and how do you go about getting it.
Will you build a grass root organization?
If so form small groups of 5 – 10 people. Get to know and vet who your people are. Are they actors, allies or accomplices? Are they people who will sit down and meet regularly to discuss strategies and planned actions? Meet in a public place or Zoom. Let us know what your results are at 4comculture.com. Email info to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d suggest that you make this message go viral through your social media outlets. I’d suggest that you print this out on your home printer and distribute it at upcoming non-violent protests. You can become a civic activist and work between horrific events and elections.
Sometimes we can’t wait on the cavalry! Let’s put the wagons in a circle. The battle has begun! We are under attack, we must do the best we can with what we have. The creative will have the best chance for survival. It’s good to be prepared and independent but in times like this we need to be inter-dependent.
What does it mean to be a brotha? Is that a term based upon skin color or ethnicity or is it an understanding of common goals? We are in a war that’s being fought on two levels. One is the immediate problem with COVID-19. The other is the systemic problems that lead to a disproportionate number of deaths among people of color and the poor.
If we are brothas we need to support each other in this war at both levels. We need to support each other in measurable ways, not just throw around cultural symbols. We need to start by asking little things of each other.
If you are a friend you will wear a mask because it protects you from me and me from you.
We need to believe in and support the idea of one justice indivisible. If you don’t know what I am talking about a starting point would be The 14 Principles listed at 4comculture.com.
The Spokane School District Board of Education wants to name several new school buildings. It would be nice if two of those schools were named after people of color. You can nominate someone: Nomination Link. I have nominated Frances Scott and Ruben Trejo.
You need to have an online presence. You need to let your other brothas know what it is you stand for. One simple way to do this is to participate in online posting and messaging at Facebook.
Let’s become civic activists. Participate in local social justice organizations or engage in new methods of non-violent action that include physical, virtual and hybrid actions.
We each need to develop a social justice budget. It would be nice if you would donate on a regular basis to the things that you believe in. Let me suggest that you make a donation to anybody or any group that you choose, but do it in the name of Spokane Brothas. The reason I suggest doing that is to build a power base that would be respected. I would suggest a budget that would express your volunteer time as well as your cash contributions. For example a budget of $100 a month could include:
Volunteering: 7 hours a month at the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would be about a $50 in-kind contribution. What if you showed up to volunteer in a Brothas T-shirt?
Send a check to the Black Lens. About $4.00 a month buys a subscription.
Contribute to an informational issue campaign. For example about $16 pays for a MailChimp service that will send your message to a mailing list of thousands that you have built. In times of quarantine and isolation you have to find ways other than community meetings to deliver information about your issues. You could buy a yard sign with your message or issue or candidate.
Give $20 to local and/or regional progressive organizations or blue political parties – to the same organization/s every month so they can feel your presence.
Give $10 to national progressive organizations or blue political parties – to the same organization/s every month so they can feel your presence.
If we only had 14 brothas contributing at this level this would be $1400 per month or $16,800 per year. Imagine what would happen if we had 100 brothas.
Your comments are welcome. If I haven’t heard from you by June 12, I will assume you are not interested.
In the summer of 1965 the people listed below and I shared a common experience. Hundreds of us shared this experience. The experience changed my life. Student and parent protests against the Chicago School Board were focused by CORE in 1962, reaching a peak in the summer of 1965 with the Daily Daley Marches from Buckingham Fountain to Mayor Richard J. Daley’s house to protest school segregation and conditions.
As my friend Earless Ross and I marched we asked individuals in the line why they marched. We gathered numerous testimonies from those marching with us. I would like to know how that experience affected their lives.
If you are one of those listed below, know any of them or other people who participated in the Daily Daley Marches, please contact me:
Robert “Bob” J. Lloyd text: (509) 999-1263 email@example.com subject: Why We March 3314 S Grand Blvd. Spokane WA 99203
Authors of the Statements
James G. “Allen Jr.”, Marla Bollin, Dave Canon, Kathy Casey, Mrs. Ronald Crawford, Jesse Daniales, Ken Davis, Arnelle Douglas, Clevon Edgerson, Charles E. Gant, Mrs. C. R. Gillies, Lucille Gipson, Walter D. Glanze, LeRoy Griffin, Elihu Harris, Jerry Herman, Carol Hill, William Hollins, Margaret Hollowell, Walter Ireland (Freloud?), Jesse Jackson, Nathaniel Jackson, Thomas Richard Joiner, Russell D. Jones, Oliver Julius, Sue Kaply, William Kennedy, Helen Kitterer, Joh Kles, Len Lazar, Marchain Lightfoot, Mrs. Limbo, Robert Lucas, Garrick Madison, John Maloney, LaMar McCoy, Earl D. Mosley, Bill Murphy, Jack Ongemach, W. Robinson, Earless Ross, Mary S (Sroges?), Chuck Sanders, Janice (?) Saylor, Mary Settles, Laurie Shortreed, Charles Smith, Fred Smith, Ollie M.Smith, Robert Shively, Dan Solomon, Dick Sroges, Jesse Stanton, Tanya Stewart, Peggy Terry, Cheryl Thompson, Barbara Wakefield, Margaret Walker, Patricia Washington, Harvey Weiner, Mrs. Williams, Ronald G. Williams, Susan Williams, James Wright, Cara Young Coordinating Council of Community Organizations Statement Written by Marchain Lightfoot
Others involved whom I would like to contact: Ted Manheart, Pat Packard, Rita Walford, Dennis Shriver, Gerald Thomas.
People of Color Legislative Conference Areas of Focus Discussion for Spokane Region Saturday, October 12th, 2019
The summit has three main goals: 1) to stimulate dialogue between diverse POC organizations, community leaders, and state legislators of color to build statewide solidarity, unity and mobilizing capacity on the most important issues to our collective communities of color; 2) to organize a platform for community leaders of color to develop a Legislative Agenda of top priorities for the Senate and House Members of Color Caucus (MOCC) to push forward; and 3) to come out with a working list of who’s working on what issue in what region, so that organizations across the state can build on momentum made at the summit. This is not meant to pre-empt any individual community’s legislative priorities, only build a resource for connecting people and organizations with shared issues.
Racial Justice Community Leaders
“Racial Justice Community Leaders” were invited to the summit and asked to bring their organization’s legislative priorities and were “welcome to invite POC community leaders you know to register for the event.”
Community Leaders of Color
The purpose of the summit was to hear from and connect people of color community leaders and legislators of color to build solidarity and mobilizing capacity across the state for issues that are of highest priority to our collective communities of color.
Below are Spokane’s top 10 priorities for each of the categories discussed.
Racial and Criminal Justice
End cash bail
Decriminalize driving with 3rd degree suspend license
I-1000 (pro) affirmative action (ref. 88 on ballot)
Expedition of voting rights restoration of people with felonies
HB 1517: Risk assessment, etc. for DV and IPV (need racial equity lens plus broader rep from impacted population)
Rights and education for women who enter prison while pregnant
True blood legislation
Housing, Homelessness, Displacement, & Human Services
Statewide rent control
Just cause eviction statewide
Fair chance housing
Enhance reentry housing
More $ for permanent affordable housing
Civil-legal aid/right to council for eviction court
Build in rent grace period or remove 3 notice protection revocation
Decriminalizing public camping
Universal voluntary access to ECAP
Full day kindergarten, Headstart
Raise ECAP poverty threshold so more people qualify
Cultural competence for Pre-K teachers
Increase support for teachers plus families for accessing development resources
Fund to provide disciplinary diversion to keep kids in classroom
More teachers/authority figures of color
Race pay equity-equal pay
Racial health equity (tied for first priority)
Consideration of voting rights/participation in underrepresented communities (tied for first priority)
Ask for expulsion of Matt Shea (tied for second priority)
More $ resources towards impact of nuclear industry on communities of color (tied for second priority)
If you want to know what organizations and individuals registered for the event and represented people of color in our Spokane community, contact Terri Anderson and Jac Archer, the facilitators of the Spokane summit.