Taking a stand to end violence, racism, and death
Dear fellow King County employees,
This week, our nation is once again convulsed by the police shooting of a Black man – this time Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
With the worldwide outrage and protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this year, people from all walks of life are demanding immediate, and meaningful change. The shooting of Jacob Blake again shows how far we still have to go, and the struggles that we must overcome, to make a fair, equitable and racially just society a reality.
I know many are hurting right now. Just as the killing of George Floyd did, this latest shooting highlights the painful reality not just of our past, but our present. I recognize that our Black neighbors, friends, loved ones and colleagues, experience this pain most acutely.
It is directly to you that I now speak – our Black/African American colleagues and co-workers. As a white man, I recognize that I cannot begin to understand your experience in the same way you do, in the way Black and indigenous Americans in particular, including perhaps your own ancestors, have for generations.
What I and each of us must do is to stand strong and move in solidarity and unity to dismantle and replace the institutional and structural racism which impact all communities, but especially and uniquely black, indigenous and communities of color.
Finally, I recognize the importance of today as the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 57 years ago. There he challenged America to grow up, grow out of its stunted adolescence, and live up to its promise – challenged all Americans to work toward a better, more just future. It also does not escape me that this is also the 65th anniversary of the death of Emmett Till, the Black 14-year-old who was lynched in Mississippi and whose death continues to serve as a clarion call against racist hate and violence.
To you and to all County employees I say that to give in to hopelessness and despair is to fail to rise to Dr. King’s challenge, and to give up on America. Individually and collectively, we must take a stand and work for racial justice, to build a nation that fulfills its potential and its noblest founding ideals.
As the King County Executive and as your colleague, I am committed to using my position to do this, starting here in Martin Luther King Jr. County.
Please stay strong and stay safe. Thank you.
King County Executive