by Elizabeth Turnbull, Alex Garland, and Susan Fried
In place of Fourth of July celebrations, organizers of the King County Equity Now Coalition held a “4th of YouLie” rally and teach-in on 23rd Avenue and Union Street July 4 to address gentrification in the Central District (CD) and the exclusive history of the holiday and its celebration.
At the rally, which began at 2 p.m., activist and former mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver and president of Africatown Community Land Trust, K. Wyking Garrett both addressed how the Black community has been pushed out of the CD as a result of predatory developers and gentrification.
“Reparations is not only going to happen based on elected officials putting legislation in place. The truth of the matter is, white folks who own things can decide just to give them up and give them over,” Oliver said of white-owned businesses in the CD.
Attendees also received fliers listing demands pertaining to the cannabis industry — demands which are aimed at preventing the further over-policing of the Black community in regards to cannabis laws, among other things.
The coalition demands that cannabis tax revenue that currently goes to the State General Fund should be reallocated to an equity fund to help Black and Brown communities to enter the cannabis industry, according to the flier.
In addition, the demands state that there should be a legalization of “Home Grows for Personal Use,” that the City of Seattle should create a 100 percent BIPOC-nominated committee to design the implementation plan for the distribution of New Social Equity Retail Licenses in the city, and that all cannabis-related felonies and related offenses must be expunged, among other demands.
The coalition also included a call to action asking that all local cannabis shops donate all of their net proceeds for the month of August to King County Equity Now for the cannabis equity work group.
Chukundi Salisbury, who is running for state representative in Seattle’s 37th legislative district, also spoke at the event while others such as South Seattle Rapper Rell Be Free performed at the rally.
Overall, speakers of the coalition emphasized equity and reparations.
“We are bringing forward what we know will help our community thrive,” Oliver said. “It is not enough to treat people equally who have been treated unequally for hundreds of years — we must first move through a period of equity, and we demand that now.”
Featured image by Susan Fried