Tag Archives: Kamna Shastri

30 Years of MFPA: Advocating for Police Transformation

by Kamna Shastri

Reverend Harriet Walden has dedicated decades of her life to holding police accountable for their conduct, since long before slogans of “defund the police” echoed along city streets. In 1991, she founded Mothers Against Police Harassment, now known as Mothers For Police Accountability (MFPA). She is admired and respected for her work — and rightly so. A power-house with clear vision, Walden has been advocating for law enforcement to be held accountable for thirty years. Her legacy is powerful.

The incident that sparked Walden’s activism took place on a mid-summer evening on Aug. 5, 1990. One of Walden’s sons was riding home from a community festival with two friends. As the boys were rounding the corner at 29th Avenue South and South Jackson Street, Seattle police officers stopped them, saying they were looking for drugs. Walden’s other son was in the house nearby and came outside because of the noise. The four boys — all high school graduates on their way to college — began to argue with the police, explaining that they had no drugs in their possession, and the argument escalated.

In a 1995 interview on Network X, Walden recounts how the police held guns to the boys’ heads and that all four were beaten up and arrested. Walden was rightfully angry at how the police had treated her sons and their friends, especially as they were found wrongfully charged. Walden was able to get the charges dropped for the youth but sued the City of Seattle for misconduct.

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Our Future Matters: N2N Grant Helps Build Capacity for Youth Leadership

by Kamna Shastri

Pulemau Savusa was a high school student when she co-founded the “Our Future Matters” program as a part of YES! Foundation, a community nonprofit based in White Center. Years later, she is the program’s director, inspiring youth to advocate for their education and enrichment to gain opportunities much like she did. Savusa went on to pursue a degree in Education Studies at UW Bothell because of her work with youth.

Founded in 2000, YES! Foundation itself is dedicated to working with children and creating opportunities for youth in the White Center neighborhood. Their website states that “in doing so, we share resources and social capital with our community’s children and youth because we believe that having access to powerful life experiences and solid relationships is a good foundation for the development of strong, healthy, equipped leaders.”

YES! Foundation is rooted in the concept of collaborative partnerships. One central partnership has been with Cascade Middle School in the Highline Public School District, where they have been operating after-school programming for more than two years. Other community partnerships have involved the White Center Community Development Association, Cascade Bicycle Club, World Vision, and A.I.G.A Link, among others.

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For 27 Years, SCS Has Been a Catch-All for Seattle’s Somali Community

by Kamna Shastri

As an immigrant, it can be grating and alienating to go about your daily life without hearing the familiar lilt of your mother tongue. When you have moved to the United States to escape war or political instability and are trying to put down roots, it’s as important to retain a connection to your community as it is to make inroads into this new culture. This was the case for Sahra Farah, founder and director of Somali Community Services (SCS) of Seattle, based in Renton.

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It Takes a Village: The Multicultural Care Network of ODMF

by Kamna Shastri

How do you navigate a support system for people with disabilities when you don’t know English? The compounding circumstances of having a disability, or caring for a loved one with a disability, while also struggling to master an American standard of English creates a unique need for multicultural families. As it is, the reams of paperwork, bureaucracy, and agencies that make up the maze of social services are already convoluted even if one knows English and has few barriers to access.

Open Doors for Multicultural Families (ODMF) has been dedicated to filling this service gap through a cultural brokerage model and systems-change approach. The organization was founded in 2009 by Ginger Kwan, whose vision was to see all “culturally and linguistically diverse individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities and their families thrive in an inclusive society of their own design.” Since its founding, ODMF has helped connect over a thousand individuals and families with tailored support and language access. Kwan now serves as the organization’s executive director.

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