Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County Launches Black-Led Community Investment Fund, Endorses King County Equity Now Coalition Demands

by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County

Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County (BLMSKC) today announced the launch of the Black-Led Community Investment Fund with nearly a quarter-million dollars in grants to seven organizations. Additionally, it endorsed a slate of demands made by the King County Equity Now Coalition for re-purposing underused public lands.

Both efforts underscore BLMSKC’s imperative to support Black-led organizations that have long worked to serve the local community. 

The Black-Led Community Investment Fund was formed to direct recent donations back to the community. Of this first grants round of $245,000, $170,000 was raised in connection with the June 12 March of Silence, which organizers now estimate drew 85,000 people to the streets of Seattle and mobilized thousands of people across Washington state. Additional money was raised by the board.

The grants announced today include lead gifts to Mothers for Police Accountability and King County Equity Now Coalition.

Led by Rev. Harriet Walden, Mothers for Police Accountability has been leading and healing the Seattle community and holding the justice and police systems accountable for three decades. The Investment Fund will grant MPA $25,000 to support Rev. Walden’s leadership in determining the immediate and long-term future of the East Precinct of Seattle Police Department, whose history is rooted in Black-led organizing.

King County Equity Now Coalition, is a cadre of long-standing Black-led community

King County Equity Now Coalition, is a cadre of long-standing Black-led community organizations in King County. It will receive a grant of $50,000 to continue to support the basic and emergency needs of Black children and youth in the Central District.

Additionally, the Fund is making unsolicited grants to Black community media outlets, including the South Seattle Emerald ($15,000), the Seattle Medium ($15,000), KRIZ-AM, the ZTwins ($15,000). Grants were also made to legal and political organizations serving the Black trans community, the Lavender Rights Project ($50,000) and Black Trans Task Force ($75,000).

King County Equity Now Coalition’s demands focus on maximizing the community impact of currently underused public spaces, as well as reinvesting some of the Seattle Police Department budget for community benefit.

Specifically, they propose: 

The decommissioned Fire Station 6 on 23rd & Yesler becomes William Grose Center for Enterprise, per the City of Seattle Equitable Development Plan.

The vacant Sound Transit Lot on Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. & S. Angeline St. become the Youth Achievement Center.

The Paramount Nursing Home, formally Black-owned and recently acquired by Washington State, revert to Black-community ownership.

The Seattle Housing Authority Operations Site on Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. & Dearborn become affordable housing.

A halt to development at the King County Records Site project on 13th & Yesler until it includes equitable participation by a Black-led, community-based organization.

A halt to development at Yesler Terrace W. until equitable it includes participation by Black-led, community-based organization.

A halt to the Washington State Department of Commerce’s corrupt Priority Development Area proposal for the Seattle Vocational Institute. A new RFP process should commence that is truly open, transparent and accountable to the Central Area’s Black community.

A halt to all predatory development in the Central Area and other historic areas of color.

The establishment of a $500 million anti-gentrification, land acquisition fund to help the Black community acquire property in the Central Area and support Black economic development. The fund shall include:

Technical assistance resources for Black contractors, to ensure equitable participation opportunities in the development of projects in their community.

Access to capital and culturally-responsive business development training for small businesses to grow their businesses by participating on training for small businesses to grow their businesses by participating on public projects.

A displacement mitigation fund for property owners and small businesses that have endured redlining.

Redistribution of $180 million from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) budget. Seattle faces a $300 million budget shortfall due to COVID-19. Instead of defunding education or scaling back on much-needed social services in a recession, Seattle City Council must reduce SPD’s $363 million budget by at least half to help cover the City’s deficit. This permanent, annual cut should lead to increased investment in Black-led, community-based organizations.

Investment of at least $50 million from the SPD budget directly into the Black community. It is equally important to shift resources into Black-led, community organizations to ensure that COVID-19 does not exacerbate the only widening racial resource and wealth gap.

A severing of all existing contracts and all financial ties between Seattle Public School District and SPD.

A dropping of all charges against police violence protestors. The City Attorney must not prosecute protestors—including those arrested for violating curfew and living in encampments. Protestors took to the streets to end the murders of Black people by police. SPD unnecessarily escalated tensions and violence.

 Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County is a grassroots, volunteer-run, social-justice nonprofit organization focused on the empowerment and liberation of Blacks and other people of color through advocacy and direct action. BLM Seattle centers leadership on Black femmes, women, queer, and trans people organizing and taking direct action to dismantle anti-black systems and policies of oppression. 

Featured image by Carolyn Bick