Voices from Across the State

Kurtis Robinson, a member of WCPA and first vice president of Spokane County NAACP reminds us of what his community faces on a daily basis. “In the City of Spokane, communities of color are targeted for more force than their white counterparts, and this is across the board for Black Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos. These have been the historic patterns, it is the current reality for our people of color, and HB 1310 was a direct
response to these conditions – do not roll it back.”

Clark County is no different according to Nickeia Hunter. Her brother, Carlos Hunter, was killed by officers from the Vancouver Police Department in March of 2019. “Residents in Clark County and the City of Vancouver have seen excessive force against Black Americans and Pacific Islanders at alarming rates. That is why the NAACP and others joined together to ask the Department of Justice to step in, we have had enough police violence and oppose any expansion of police authority to use more force.”

“There is no justification for lowering the standard put into law in 2021,” said Sonia Joseph, whose son Giovonn was killed by Kent Police in 2017. “We went to the legislature in good faith and worked hard to get HB 1310 enacted. The legislature took a stand to improve the profession of policing. They made a commitment to Washington communities and families last year to reduce police violence. A calculated misinformation campaign has stoked fear and threatens to roll back that commitment. We won’t stand for it.”

Families like Annalesa and Fred Thomas worked hard on the passage of HB 1310. Their son, Leonard, was killed, while unarmed, by a Pierce County Swat Team in 2013. “Washingtonians deserve laws that prioritize the sanctity of life, accountability, and community safety, and so far, new policing laws like House Bill 1310 have been effective in reducing police violence,” said Fred Thomas. “In 2021, police killings have gone down 62%. Washington did something right in 2021 and we shouldn’t roll that back.”

Katrina Johnson, a Pierce County resident and cousin of Charleena Lyles who was killed by Seattle Police in June 2017, pointed to racial profiling as a continuing problem. “HB 1310 addressed an actual problem, not a fabricated one. Across the state, police still use force more often against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Data from Pierce County paints an unflattering picture of police decision-making when it comes to using force. Clearly, law enforcement in Pierce County should not be authorized to use more force.”

Supporting Data
Pierce County:https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/law-justice/pierce-county-deputies-disproportionately-use-force-against-black-and-native-residents-report-finds/
City of Spokane: https://static.spokanecity.org/documents/opendata/spd/spokane-pd-disparity-report-police-strategies-llc-jan-2021.pdf
Clark County: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/21102069-11102021-doj-full-letter-final