OESJ is confronting hate and bias by strengthening communities 

In response to community concerns over the rise in hate and bias incidents in our region, the Civil Rights Program at the Office of Equity and Social Justice (OESJ) recently launched a new community-based reporting system for communities experiencing acts of hate and bias. This system is unique to the region and focuses upstream on empowering communities, rather than heightening enforcement through the criminal justice system.

Currently, data collected by law enforcement agencies does not accurately portray the realities of hate, bias, and discrimination that many communities face. Underreporting due to tenuous community-law enforcement relationships, lack of education on hate and bias incidents, fear, and a void of standardized data collection methods contribute to this issue. Thus, OESJ is partnering with trusted community groups to combat hate and bias by collecting incident information into a centralized and standardized database.

On March 10, 2020, the King County Council approved a suite of emergency legislation to aid in the County’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including $1 million for OESJ to provide flexible resources for engagement and outreach.

OEJS awarded funds to the following community partners to lead this work: The COVD-19 Community Reponses Fund Alliance, the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, and the Somali Community Service of Seattle. OESJ was also able to fund a community artist, Matt Echohawk Hayashi with the Headwater People, to provide artwork for this program.

While the current funds were allocated to address COVID-19 related incidents of hate and bias, the long-term goal is to provide King County and its diverse communities a reliable and broad network of support for long after this crisis is over. OESJ is proud and honored to support these community partners in this important work.