The Washington Bus joins with many across our state and country in calling for justice in response to the centuries of white supremacy and systemic violence against Black people in America. Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and George Floyd are the most recent names added to a shamefully long list of Black people and other people of color who have been murdered by police. Over the weekend in Seattle, we saw young people leading the disruption of police racism through protest — a physical manifestation of the collective grief, anger, and loss built up over generations of violence against Black and Brown people. These young Washingtonians risked their physical safety in putting their bodies on the line post-curfew; a curfew that was announced only 10 minutes prior to its enforcement.
In response to young people’s outcries for justice and physical witness demanding swift institutional transformation, city, county, and state executive leadership chose to escalate by meeting protestors with police in riot gear and chose to militarize by bringing in the National Guard. Local and national news coverage focuses on the destruction of property and violent protests as the narrative worth highlighting; this is woefully inaccurate. Protecting property should never be the priority over the protection of human life and dignity. Systemic state violence against Black and Brown bodies is the true narrative. Racism kills. Sanctioned police violence must end.
Any statement from elected leaders who are not calling for divestment from the police and military are perpetuating white supremacy. As a non-Black led organization, we stand with our Black community saying that enough is enough. We demand change.
As we commit to this change through a shift in our programs and strategies, we are calling on Governor Inslee, State Legislators, County Executives, Mayors, and City officials across the state to dismantle racist practices in all our institutions that they have authority over by following the demands of our Black communities:
- Remove policing from our schools and shift that funding to hire more counselors and mental health professionals for Black and Brown students.
- Prohibit any use of police funds for militarizing the police force.
- Shift funds from city police departments, county sheriffs, and state patrol to public health, housing, education, and economic efforts focused on Black and Brown communities.
- End detentions and deportations that impact Black immigrants.
- Have City Attorneys stop the prosecution of protesters.
In Seattle, to promote accountability and transparency:
- Cut the Seattle Police Department budget by 50%, and reallocate those funds to support Black and Brown led community police efforts.
- Withdraw the motion to terminate the sustainment plan of the consent decree from federal county.
- Abide by the City of Seattle Policy accountability legislation as was unanimously passed by the Seattle City Council.
- Stop fighting against the formed inquest process of King County
- Require officers to show up to testify when summoned as a part of inquiries when an officer involved killing occurs.
We are at a crossroads as a city and nation. We have the chance to be on the right side of history. We have seen in other cities that a world without police is possible, it’s already here, and it’s already working. Our work is to make it permanent.
Where to donate (if you are able):
Northwest Community Bail Fund https://www.nwcombailfund.org/
Black Lives Matter Seattle/King County https://blacklivesseattle.org/bail-fund/
Not This Time https://www.notthistime.global/donate-today/
With two new Co-Executive Directors starting earlier this month, we here at the Bus were feeling ready to take on the world! Or at least, ready to continue building our statewide movement to increase political access and participation for all young people #youthquake. Enter COVID-19, the virus that is having an unprecedented impact on the lives of each of us, and that of our loved ones and our communities.
We care about our community, especially those who are likely to be disproportionately affected by this pandemic and the narrative surrounding it– people of color, immigrants, people with a low-income, and those that are incarcerated. We’re here to do our part.
Like you, the Bus values inclusion, empowerment and justice, and it is out of these values that we are continuing to do our work. With an eye to the health and safety of the community, we’ve made some adjustments, because we know democracy must go on:
Our staff has been working remotely since March 16 and will continue to do so through at least April 8 (per Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order), if not longer. The health and safety of our staff and the community is number one.
We have shifted our current programming away from face-to-face field work and towards digital organizing and other remote strategies. Last week we kicked off our remote Census 2020 outreach and have held two “Get Out the Count” remote text banking sessions, yielding over 25,000 texts! We will be holding a remote phone/text bank every week to ensure our communities know to complete the census.
We have cancelled the in-person Bus Bash fundraiser and instead will be sharing virtual opportunities so you can continue to support our work and the 2020 Fellows when they begin the program this June. Stay tuned for updates.
We are fortunate to have the ability and privilege to practice the above-mentioned physical distancing.
We are in this together. We’d like to invite you to join us in whatever way you are able. Here’s how you can be with the Bus as we ride out this COVID storm:
Take care of yourself. We care about you and we need you. There are loads of resources available from our state here: https://www.coronavirus.wa.gov/
Complete the Census! Let’s help our community get the vital resources for its greatest moments of need (like right now).
Join a GOTC phone/text bank! Sign up here for the remarkably de-stressing activity of contacting strangers about democracy.
If you were planning to attend Bus Bash and your financial situation is stable, you can still support our work with a 100% tax-deductible gift in honor of Bus Bash.
Fight racism, xenophobia and ableism. This pandemic is feeding the long history of how immigrant groups and people of color have been labeled with “disease” imagery. We encourage each other to address the jokes and do their part to support people of color during this time.
Together, let us rise to this new challenge. Let us continue to demand that local and state governments adopt policies that protect historically disenfranchised communities and meet the needs of all people, not just some. And let us get innovative and creative with how we do this now, in the time of the Coronavirus, and for the long-term beyond.
The Bus Team
WA Bus staff during a virtual team meeting.
Dear Bus Family,
We are stoked to address you for the first time in our new positions as the Co-Executive Directors of the Washington Bus! The Bus is the political home for young people in Washington’s politics. We’re looking forward to building upon the inspiring work of the Bus. We are all about co-creating long-term, sustainable power by and with young people, for all people. We will move toward a more accessible, equitable, and representative Washington State for all of us, not just some of us.
Together with our staff, board, and community (you!), we will expand the badass movement building work of the Bus by…
Prioritizing the issues that most impact young people by revamping our Youth Agenda survey to better determine what matters most to Washingtonians under 35. We will start with young people’s aspirations!
Ramping up our digital and on-the-ground permanent organizing to build the capacity and leadership of young people’s political and civic engagement.
Prioritizing investing in POC, low-income, LGBTQIA+, immigrant, and other historically disenfranchised young leaders through strengthening our Fellowship Program to provide them with the skills and opportunities to lead and win.
Engaging more young people by becoming a statewide organization with increased programmatic capacity, more staff, and a bigger budget to create lasting, liberating change for all.
We can’t wait for more young people throughout Washington to join us as leaders and builders of bold policy change, grassroots organizing, and advocacy. And we know that doing this work well will take time and intention. We are committed to taking the time to build authentic relationships grounded in trust so that we continue to be a trusted messenger in our communities. We are also committed to addressing the structural racism that is deeply ingrained in our political and civic processes. We are committed to upholding the dignity and humanity of our youth, and to create a space where young people know their power. We couldn’t be more excited to co-lead this new chapter of the Washington Bus with you and to create a “youth quake” in Washington State!
And of course, a successful transition needs healthy support—thank you for leaning in, sharing the dope work of the Bus with your networks, and continuing to ride the Bus with us for years to come.
Cinthia Illan-Vazquez, Co-Executive Director for Policy and Program
Kelly Hickman, Co-Executive Director for Operations and Development