YWCA of Olympia Advocacy & Public Policy
March 1, 2021
Dear Thurston County Commissioners; Thurston County Mayors, City Councils and City Administrators; Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney; Thurston County Sheriff; Thurston County School Superintendents; and Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Director:
In response to the movement and demand for justice for Black Lives, and because these times are calling on us to have a wise and courageous response, we, members of the Thurston County nonprofit community, have signed onto this collective letter indicating our intentions to align with Racial Justice and a local race equity focused policy agenda.
We believe it is important to be engaged in this conversation because we are service providers, ultimately responding to the inequities that have come from systemic oppression. In recognition of the intersectional nature of oppression, we are actively considering how all forms of oppression compound the negative impacts of racism. That is; ableism, ageism, religious oppression, classism, heterosexism and homophobia, anti indigenous oppression/colonization, anti-immigrant oppression, sexism, and transphobia are all implicated in systemic racism.
Our nonprofits hold collective power in this community and have a responsibility to use that power wisely and for justice. We know that until we dismantle systemic supremacy none of us can meet our missions for the wellbeing of people and our planet. We want to stand in solidarity with the changes that Black Leaders and Communities of Color are calling for. Because Communities of Color are most impacted by systemic oppression, we believe that Communities of Color know best the solutions that are needed. We see it as our responsibility to amplify these solutions and to step into allyship in whatever ways we can. This is one, among many, of those ways.
With advisement from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Communities, we have outlined several policy priorities that our nonprofit community is asking our elected and appointed leaders to research and to swiftly put into action. We recognize that one list of policy priorities will not be representative of all BIPOC Communities and perspectives, and we’ve tried to do our best to be responsive and also demonstrate allyship/accompliceship.
It is clear that there have been good intentions and that several of your jurisdictions have taken important steps to address issues of inequality and yet, these efforts have fallen short of what is needed. The caliber and direction of our work together must be amplified to address the significant harm, stress, fear and pain BIPOC communities are facing every day. This set of policy priorities acknowledges the gravity and pace of change that is needed to address these harms. We look forward to working with you on this journey in the coming months.
We are asking Thurston County Elected and Appointed Leaders to:
- Declare racism as a public health emergency
- Install community-led public safety accountability bodies to direct a fundamental shift in how our local criminal justice system operates; significantly reduce the scope and power of these systems ? Reallocate funds from criminal justice system to community-based services; Install sanctioned (with decision making power) community-led, participatory budgeting processes to determine where the reallocated funds are invested
- Redesign and reinvest current school resource officer contracts into student supports and school counselors
- Adopt and align with the federal Justice in Policing Act of 2020 and Washington State Initiative 940
- Denounce white supremacist hate groups and armed vigilante groups and take tangible steps to prevent them from inciting violence
- Ensure Human Rights Commissions are led by People of Color and those whose rights are impacted, and fund their work
- Prohibit all collusion with ICE and eliminate system practices that include sharing information with ICE ? Extend eviction moratorium with a rental relief fund for households financially impacted by COVID-19, which has been proven to disproportionately impact BIPOC
- Create and adopt Good Cause Eviction and non-possessory policies
- Create accountability metrics and systems of transparency with regards to the above-named priorities; make progress on demands transparent and up-to-date based on priorities of impacted communities
We know that some of this can happen right away and understand that some of this will take more time and will require different types of community processes to determine the best way forward. However, we know that now is the time to align our actions with our stated values and we are calling our local leaders to do the same.
We can’t create the changes that we want to see in this community, which are desperately needed, if we continue to go about business as usual. Business as usual upholds racism and upholds oppression. It is time for us to show courage and to show that we value Black Lives. When we stand in solidarity together we will see true systemic change in our communities.
Tambra Donohue, Director
Monarch Children’s Justice and Advocacy Center