GSBA, a business organization committed to equality, has been engaged in a number of community dialogues as we all grapple with the violence that has touched Seattle and many communities across the country. Violence, biased policing and public safety have been at the forefront of many conversations this summer and GSBA is committed to provide leadership in our community and work with our elected officials on addressing the underlying problems of violence.
Communities Come Together Around Senseless Tragedy
After the horrific double-homicide at the intersection of 29th Avenue and King Street, GSBA was invited to participate in a meeting of community leaders brought together by Mayor Murray to address the tragedy. We are grateful to the Mayor for bringing together many Seattle communities which are often marginalized and giving us all an opportunity to meet one another and express our collective grief over the heinous nature of the crime, as well as the start of a longer conversation about how to continue reaching out across communities that often do not know each other very well.
LGBT Leadership Roundtable
Last week Representative Brady Walkinshaw facilitated a roundtable of LGBT community leaders at the GSBA office to continue this conversation. The thrust of the conversation was a commitment to create new mechanisms and avenues of communication to build bridges among communities across neighborhoods.
Westlake Demonstrations Turn Ugly
Similarly, GSBA was invited by our nonprofit member, the Jewish Federation, to join them in meeting the Mayor about recent demonstrations at Westlake Center which included hate speech and signage against the Jewish community. We applaud the Mayor for his commitment to be clear that, regardless of political beliefs, he will speak out loudly and clearly against behaviors that incite violence and spread hate. He will also remind department heads and elected officials to act responsibly and speak out against intolerance and hate.
Welcome New Chief Kathleen O’Toole
Like nearly everyone else in the city, we are very encouraged by the appointment of new Seattle Police Department Chief Kathleen O’Toole. Everyone in Seattle, regardless of neighborhood, should feel safe and protected by our police department. Reiterating his commitment to reforming the Seattle Police Department, Mayor Murray, in his comments on the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, remarked “a police service should not suppress the rights of the press to cover news events, nor should peaceful protesters be threatened with militarized force.” The problems in Ferguson are not limited to that city and should indeed be a moment to reflect and learn, but also to act, for every city in our country.
Mayor’s LeadershipWe are incredibly appreciative to the Mayor for his responsiveness in addressing violence, convening community gatherings and commitment to making important changes in the Seattle Police Department. Violence and intolerance directed at any community is unacceptable and it is the responsibility of each of us to speak out and address. GSBA takes this responsibility seriously and is committed to creating a safer, respectful and inclusive Seattle for us all.