by Elaine Simons
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.—Elie Wiesel
My foster son, Jesse Sarey, was killed by Officer Jeff Nelson of the Auburn Police Department on May 31, 2019. Jesse was 26 years old. He was the 19th person in 2019 killed by police use of deadly force in the state of Washington since implementation of Initiative 940 (I-940), which requires de-escalation and mental health training for police and changed the law to remove a legal barrier that prevented prosecutors, as a practical matter, from charging officers who killed someone. Washington’s previous statute required prosecutors to prove “actual malice” — the most restrictive standard in the country. With Jesse’s biological family and supporters by our side, Officer Nelson was charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault in August 2020. Officer Nelson is only the third officer to be indicted for taking the life of a civilian in Washington State history and the first under I-940. Nelson is the first officer in the state of Washington to be prosecuted for taking the life of a civilian in 30 years. Less than 2% of police officers nationally are held criminally accountable when they kill someone. This is why State v. Nelson needs your attention, and the nation’s. Officer Nelson’s trial begins in June 2022.
Continue reading OPINION: The Silence Is Maddening
by Senator Joe Nguyen
Tommy Le should be alive today. On this fourth anniversary of his death, our thoughts are with the Le family and the countless lives impacted by violence and marginalization in this country.
Four years ago, I read a headline about a police killing in Burien, and a few hours later received a text message saying that it was Tommy Le. Tommy was a young Vietnamese man who was killed the day before his high school graduation. And if not for the reporting of Daniel Person at the Seattle Weekly, who called out that Tommy was holding a pen, not a knife, and the continued coverage by Carolyn Bick with the South Seattle Emerald — we would have only ever had law enforcement’s version of what happened that night, when someone who needed help ended up dead at the hands of a sheriff.
Continue reading OPINION: Remembering Tommy Le
by Ashley Archibald
Professor Daudi Abe has written books. He defended his dissertation to get his Ph.D. in education from the University of Washington. He’s taught college classes at Seattle Central College since 2003 and given talks to crowds on the complicated intersections of race and culture.
But this time, he was nervous.
For nearly five hours on a cloudy Wednesday in April, Abe stood in a conference room in front of law enforcement officers and leaders of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) and walked them through the course he had helped to write on the history of race and policing. Soon, it will be their job to lead recruits through the same information.
Continue reading Washington Law Enforcement Will Soon Be Required to Learn the History of Race and Policing, Will It Be Enough to Spark Change?
by Jordan Chaney
The other day I was driving a little faster than what the speed limit called for and a motorcycle cop pulled me over. As he approached my driver’s side window, he tapped the middle of his chest to make me aware of his body cam, and he announced that he was recording the traffic stop. In that moment, I thought my life could end. I imagined him blowing my brains out through the passenger side seat and window. So when he asked for my ID, I made sure to go through my “P.O.P.s” (the pull-over-protocol that I taught my son when he got his driver’s license): pray, be polite, move as slowly as possible, keep your hands and wallet visible at all costs because it could cost you your life.
Continue reading OPINION: There Was More Police Accountability in Washington State During Jim Crow Than Today
by Alycia Ramirez
Since the death of George Floyd last spring, the term “Defund the Police” has jumped into the public conscientious, but not by some twist in fate or happenstance. The fight for police accountability and reform has been a generations-long battle, which has coalesced into what we see today with the Defund the Police movement.
In over 100 years of policing there has been repeated violence directed at Black and Brown communities at the hands of police, and little meaningful reform to stop or reduce it. White America may be just fine with doing the absolute bare minimum and maintaining the status quo, but marginalized communities may not be so willing to endure another century of violence directed at them.
The uncomfortable truth is that police forces were originally created in our nation for the purpose of upholding white supremacy. They were slave catchers, created for the explicit purpose of capturing runaway slaves.
Continue reading OPINION: Defund the Police Isn’t a Slogan, It’s a Call to Action in Response to Generations of Racial Violence and BIPOC Communities Should Be Leading
by Jack Russillo
For the third time in as many months, the case involving the police officer who shot and killed Jesse Sarey was delayed.
On Nov. 13, the third Order for Continuance in The State of Washington vs Jeffrey Nelson case was filed from the defense, pushing back the next hearing until Jan. 20, 2021.
After the case’s arraignment on Aug. 24 — in which Nelson was charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault — Nelson made bail the same day and has been on electronic home monitoring since. In September, Nelson’s defense filed a motion to change judges from one other than King County Superior Court Judge Veronica Galván. That motion was tabled and Galván will remain the judge on the case until the case moves to trial.
Continue reading As Murder Trial Delayed a Third Time, Auburn Police Officer Who Shot Jesse Sarey Still Employed and Receiving $100K Salary
by Melia LaCour
It took several attempts before I could finally write this article. What do the 2020 election victories for Black women Democrats mean to me as a Black, mixed-race woman? Each time, I erupted in explosive grief. A complex grief that holds a thousand stories.
Continue reading When We Elect Black Women Leaders
by Kari Plog
(This article was originally published by KNKX and has been reprinted with permission.)
Last Friday would have been Manuel Ellis’ 34th birthday.
“I was there when he was born,” Regina Ellis Burnett said of her nephew. “Unfortunately, I was not there when his life was taken. We’re here to celebrate.”
It’s been nearly six months since Ellis was killed by Tacoma police. A state investigation is underway, but the family says it’s not moving fast enough. They held a press conference Friday announcing their intent to sue the City of Tacoma for $30 million in damages. Attorney James Bible has filed a precursor to the lawsuit, known as a tort claim.
Continue reading ‘The Journey Is Not Yours Alone.’ Birthday Celebration, Mural Honor Life of Manuel Ellis