Statements from Mayor Ekberg and Council President Quinn on recent events locally and across the nation at the June 1, 2020 Council Meeting.
Mayor Ekberg’s Statement:
I want to take a moment to recognize that many of us around the country are hurting. Hundreds of years of systematic oppression within our country has resulted in countless victims, including the horrific events in Minneapolis that resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death last week. We acknowledge that there are many in our Tukwila community who also suffer – on a daily basis – from systematic oppression and inequality. In Tukwila we have made it clear – through policy, resolutions and actions – that we will continue to fight inequity, racism and poverty. We also acknowledge that we have a long way to go to achieve this goal.
What happened in our city last night was not, however, a protest, rally or commemoration of Mr. Floyd’s life and tragic death. It was, however, a callous act of numerous individuals focused on exploiting these difficult time for their own gain. These individuals broke into very specific businesses looking for high-dollar items to steal, not caring whether the stores were owned by corporate America or immigrant business owners. While national audio-visual, apparel and cell phone stores were victims, so was an immigrant-owned beauty supply store and a family-owned restaurant that just opened here in Tukwila.
Such activities are not the work of individuals honoring Mr. Floyd or the countless other victims of oppression in our country. This is the work of individuals looking to profit off of these difficult times facing our nation. This is the work of people putting more jobs in our city at risk – during a time when we have never had such tenuous access to employment, income and basic needs due to the coronavirus pandemic. These activities last night take us back, not forward, and will not be tolerated in our city.
I want to thank the work of the Tukwila Police Department and other law enforcement agencies that assisted last night. Because of this work they were able to minimize the loss of property and, most importantly, ensure that the people working and living in our central business district remained safe. The Police Department and partnering agencies remain on alert and ready to protect our entire City, including our neighborhoods. I also want to acknowledge and thank the many residents – those I saw this morning and those that I did not – who came down to the business district this morning to help with the clean-up. You were all wonderful and amazing today. Your compassion and hard work this morning was felt throughout the City. Thank you.
On behalf of the City of Tukwila, I want to acknowledge the realities of what our nation’s past has forged in our today. We have systematic and institutional injustices that are on all of us to fix. I am pleased to represent a City that I know, while imperfect, is working toward these goals.
– Tukwila Mayor Allan Ekberg
Council President Quinn’s Statement:
On behalf of the Council, I want to express our profound sorrow. Sorrow over the 100,000 lives lost in this country to COVID-19, and the associated unemployment and economic crisis. Sorrow over the current crisis we have seen unfold across this country and in our own community.
This is not a new crisis – it is a centuries long generational crisis of racism against African Americans, people of color, low income people – but right now tensions have skyrocketed as a result of the callous murder of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers.
Now it’s been proven that one week ago today, George Floyd died from homicidal asphyxiation. It isn’t just George that died. What also died on that day was our ability to look the other way and pretend this problem is not systemic.
What died that day is law enforcement being able to call actions on a few bad apples and not recognizing the structural issue that needs to be addressed, and it represents the larger problem in our society – law enforcement does not face this issue alone – that maybe one person’s station in life makes them less eligible for respect, trust and dignity.
But some departments have successfully tried to challenge these systemic issues, Tukwila being one of them, by leading these reforms.
What died that day is our ability to deny the connection between the other similar tragedies that have occurred across this country. Let us honor the names of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and all of those who came before.
What died that day is the misconception that this is just the burden of people of color to bear alone.
We must acknowledge that as a society, we have to decide that we will no longer allow the racism that has infiltrated our institutions since the beginning of this country – the nation’s original sin of racism. We may all be cast in the ocean together, but it is undeniable that we are navigating these waters with different boats.
We talk a lot up here about the value of the diversity in our community – we have been on the record again and again, united in our embrace of this community strength.
But we must recognize that within that diversity there are vast disparities around opportunity. Our institutions have created systems that breed inequity. For centuries.
I want to also acknowledge our local law enforcement officers who are unfortunately having to battle on two fronts – let’s be clear that last night there was no protest, it was calculated criminal activity of looting and pillaging that occurred. First, their protection of the community that they serve and love. The other being the good work and investments in training and community policing disregarded because of the actions of a few.
I’ve had the privilege of working with law enforcement across the state of Washington, and I am hearing from a few of them now – expressing the same remorse and sorrow that we are feeling.
I understand this feeling of despair. At the same time, I feel tremendous hope as I observe the tenacity and goodwill of our residents. From expressing solidarity and sharing tangible steps toward change with our families and on social media. The fact that we as a community made a commitment to take care of seniors by taking them food in this pandemic. To assisting with the efforts last night. To getting up first thing this morning to help with the clean-up. It started out with 3 people and ended up with a caravan of about 40.
We are in this together. We are all experiencing pain and fear together. We are battling a pandemic together. We have tools we can use to survive this together. And we have a responsibility to take care of each other and to not stoke panic and fear with our words.
We are all a part of this great American experiment with its promise of freedom and prosperity. It is past time to better reflect that in the institutions that we serve and the work we do in public service. We have a lot more work to do. We love this community – and everyone in it. Every last one of the 19,109 residents in it. But we also need to do better. Because we do better when we all do better.
– Council President De’Sean Quinn