Statement from the Chair and Vice Chairs of the King County Democrats
June 1, 2020
The King County Democrats stand in solidarity with the brave individuals across our nation who are taking to the streets to demand justice for the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, and the many other Black lives that have been needlessly lost to police violence.
Martin Luther King, Jr. — after whom our county is now named — famously said that “the riot is the language of the unheard.” While we reject the term “riot” as a loaded term that intentionally denigrates these meaningful protests focused on justice and anti-racism, we acknowledge that these protests are the determined cry of the unheard. We demand that those in power open their ears and hearts to these cries for justice.
Police Violence in our own communities
Too many friends and families in our community have been killed by taxpayer-funded law enforcement officers. Even more have been harmed physically and psychologically by the over-militarized, over-funded police and sheriff departments.
To name only some from our community: #CharleenaLyles, #ReneeDavis, #TommyLe, #CheTaylor, #SeanFuhr, #IsaiahObet & #JesseSarey (both killed by officer Jeff Nelson), #GiovannJosephMcDade, #JackSunKeewatinawin, #AlonzoPriceHolt (who survived to tell his story but has suffered immensely), #JohnTWilliams, #MiChanceDunlapGittens and their families have not received justice for the lives cut short by state-sanctioned violence.
This must stop.
We call on all judges, prosecutors, and sheriffs to actively work to put an end to these killings and to bring the killers to justice.
Valuing People over Property
Much has been written about property destruction that has accompanied some of these protests — much more indeed than was written about the actual murders that precipitated the protests, or the calls for justice that underpin the protests. We wish to be clear we do not value property above the lives of our Black friends and neighbors. We do not condone violence, but the focus of our outrage is on the unrelenting violence experienced by Black communities and other communities of color throughout our nation’s history and continuing today.
We call on elected officials to not prioritize property over human life in their response to and comments on the protests. Our focus needs to be on the human life that is lost without recourse to justice.
Voting is important, but “just vote” will not bring systemic change
Many Democrats and elected officials, seeing the outrage manifested in the streets of our country have urged those who are angered by their lack of access to justice to Vote — especially in the 2020 presidential election. We agree that voting for the right leaders is important, and voting out Donald Trump from office is essential. These challenging times are made more challenging by the divisive rhetoric and lack of leadership from our nation’s highest office.
However, when elected leaders and party representatives call on Black people and their allies to “just vote,” they excuse themselves from the real work that they must do and that we must do as a political party. It is not the responsibility of marginalized communities to make more space for Democrats through their votes. It is the responsibility of Democrats to make more space for marginalized communities, so that we are truly worthy of their trust and support.
We must recognize that as a Democratic party, we have not been there for our Black siblings. While Black people are the most reliable voting bloc for Democrats, we do not center their needs. We ask them repeatedly to show up for us, but we do not show up for them. That has to change. We have to change it.
Elected Officials and Party Leaders Need to take the First Step, and then Keep Walking
As the first step, the King County Democrats call on all Democratic officials in King County to unequivocally acknowledge the basic fact that Black Lives Matter and police brutality is unacceptable. We call on all elected officials to make a clear statement supporting those who are protesting to bring justice to Black lives.
But taking the first step is not enough. We need true police accountability. We need an end to policies that lead to disproportionate numbers of Black and Brown and Indigenous bodies in our jails. We need an end to policies that leave Black and Brown and Indigenous people with disproportionately worse employment, housing, educational, and health outcomes. We need an end to the over-policing of Black and Brown and Indigenous communities. We need a King County that lives up to its namesake.
Democrats hold nearly every elected and appointed position of power in King County. If we want to change things we cannot look to others. We must change. And we must change now.