The incredible protests for racial justice taking place across the country have sparked a long-overdue discussion about police violence in America.
As we said in our message to white progressives, racism and police violence are just as big a problem here as anywhere in the country. Just Wednesday, the Pierce County Medical Examiner ruled Manuel Ellis’s death a homicide at the hands of Tacoma police. Some of his final words - “I can’t breathe” – have become a painfully common refrain among Black people murdered by law enforcement.
We need police accountability right here, right now.
We are looking to leaders in the Black community for how we can best support and make lasting, systemic change. King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay is calling on every elected official to join him in taking the #ElectedsForJustice pledge, a 5-part plan to create and strengthen police accountability and investments in local communities. We are joining that call, and are asking city, county, and state leaders to support policies that:
- De-militarize the police. More than 8,000 police departments across the country have received $7.4 billion of equipment directly from the department of defense. Heavily-armed police escalate tensions, use more force, and make our communities less safe.
- Further restrict the use of excessive or deadly force by police. Research from the Use of Force Project shows that “police departments with policies that place clear restrictions on when and how officers use force had significantly fewer killings.”
- Increase accountability and transparency in police union contracts. As the Martin Luther King County Labor Council made clear in their powerful anti-racist statement yesterday, we can improve oversight in police union contracts while still supporting collective bargaining.
- Give subpoena and other investigative powers to independent oversight boards. Police officers should not be investigating and overseeing themselves.
- Redirect police department funding to community-based alternatives. According to the Seattle Times, “the Police Department’s budget is more than $400 million this year, accounting for about a quarter of Seattle’s general-fund spending.” By prioritizing non-law enforcement investments in the community like health and social services, the city could reduce police violence and improve public safety.
We agree with April Sims of the Washington State Labor Council who said, "If elected officials don’t fight for Black people, they don’t fight for any of us.” We‘re calling on our local elected officials to publicly pledge to support these five reforms to our police departments and protect our Black family, friends, and neighbors.
Here's our running list of candidates and elected officials who have taken the pledge. If you know of others or want to take the pledge yourself, please email Pledge@FuseWashington.org. We will update the list here and include the pledge in our Progressive Voters Guide recommendations.
Statewide elected officials and candidates
Lt. Governor: Rep. Denny Heck and Sen. Marko Liias
Legislators and legislative candidates
LD 1: Sen. Derek Stanford, Rep. Shelley Kloba
LD 4: Lance Gurel
LD 6: Zack Zappone
LD 10: Suzanne Woodard, Angie Homola, and Ivan Lewis
LD 11: Sen. Bob Hasegawa, Reps. Zach Hudgins and Steve Bergquist, David Hackney
LD 22: Jessica Bateman, Mary Ellen Biggerstaff, and Glenda Breiler
LD 23: Tarra Simmons and Leslie Daugs
LD 30: Rep. Jesse Johnson, Jamila Taylor
LD 32: Reps. Cindy Ryu and Lauren Davis
LD 33: Rep. Mia Gregerson
LD 34: Sen. Joe Nguyen, Reps. Joe Fitzgibbon and Eileen Cody
LD 36: Rep. Noel Frame, Liz Berry, Sarah Reyneveld
LD 37: Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, Kirsten Harris-Talley
LD 38: Emily Wicks
LD 40: Sen. Liz Lovelett
LD 41: Sen. Lisa Wellman
LD 43: Sen. Jamie Pederson, Reps. Frank Chopp and Nicole Macri, Jessi Murray
LD 44: April Berg and Anne Anderson
LD 45: Sen. Manka Dhingra
LD 46: Sen. David Frockt, Rep. Javier Valdez
LD 47: Rep. Debra Entenman
LD 48: Rep. Vandana Slatter