The Seattle Public Schools voted yesterday and approved remote learning for the fall. A note from our NAACP Education Chair, Josette Wicker:
"[The Seattle School Board] decided to do remote learning and [they] have to have final plans by September 2nd. Bargaining with the Teacher Union is still underway and could affect a lot...our special needs students are one of my high concerns." Stay tuned, King County.
Tuesday was the Washington State primary. Thank you to everyone who voted, King County had a voter turnout of over 40% of registered voters. There are a large number of candidates of color who finished in the top two spots for their races and therefore will be on the ballot in November. There were two Fire department levies on the ballots in parts of the county and both passed, helping to ensure that fire departments in that area have the resources they need to help their communities. Many of the races for both statewide offices and legislative district positions were close between the top two candidates.
This highlights just how important it is for everyone to vote in the general election in November. In the coming months we will be working hard to ensure that members are educated on the measures and candidates on the ballot, as well as encouraging all who are eligible to register to vote to do so!
Register to vote at https://voter.votewa.gov/WhereToVote.aspx for November, and beyond.
As businesses and schools rushed to close their doors four months ago to keep people safe from the spread of Covid-19, the NAACP Seattle King County sees we are still scrambling to figure out what's best for ourselves, our families, and our communities.
The CDC has stated that we cannot safely open schools if “community transmission is increasing”, and at this point, we are seeing a large increase in cases within King County. As school districts have been conducting surveys proposing three schooling options - In Person, Hybrid, or Exclusively Online - responses have been quite skewed and there are communities who’ve not voiced their opinions as of yet. As of June 30th, Seattle Public Schools had not received over 77% of the African-American male response to going back to school.
We, the NAACP Seattle King County, do not feel it is right for schools to make decisions involving the safety of our students without having a clear response to what our community’s wants and needs are. Too many of our community members are not looped in on these important decisions and there are still too many questions that have not been answered or addressed. How will students still be able to eat breakfast and lunch? How will Ethnic Studies be transitioned and prevalently used through online courses?
We urge our King County schools to listen to their community's wants and needs, or postpone opening In-Person schools for the safety of our students and our staff.
NAACP Education Chair, Seattle King County
Emailed to Honorable Kim Wyman, Washington Secretary of State
PO Box 40229 Olympia, WA 98504-0229
Dear Secretary Wyman,
I am Carolyn Riley-Payne, President of the NAACP, Seattle-King County Branch. We write you today on behalf of the nearly 1 million people of color in Martin Luther King County with an urgent request that your office please cease the voter confusion you are currently generating regarding online handwritten signatures on 2020 initiatives during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Your failure to inform the public with a definitive statement of the law on the subject of acceptable initiative signatures during COVID-19 forces millions of Washington voters to choose between exercising our constitutional rights to petition our government, or risk being infected with the deadly coronavirus disease. In the attached July 1st Crosscut article, you are quoted saying the following about the Washington AntiDiscrimination Act (WADA) signatures: “It is really hard to say what we are or aren’t going to accept when we haven’t seen what they are going to turn in yet.”
Madam Secretary, Washington law does not give you the arbitrary authority to deem what is an acceptable petition signature. Our attorneys have informed us that the Washington State Supreme Court in Ball vs. Wyman (2018) reaffirmed that RCW 29A.72.170 restricts you to accepting and rejecting petitions based on only three (3) requirements: 1) Are the petitions on time?; 2) Do the petitions contain the required content?; and 3) Do the petition sheets have the required number of signatures? NO WET SIGNATURE REQUIREMENT The July 1st Crosscut article also revealed three (3) other critical facts: 1) There is not now, nor has there ever been a “wet signature” requirement anywhere in Washington law; 2) Washington law does not now, nor has it ever prohibited online handwritten signatures; and 3) Massachusetts and New Jersey have issued COVID-19 orders permitting electronic signatures for all 2020 ballot measures. More recently, neighboring Idaho has also approved online signatures for the “Reclaim Idaho” ballot initiative. 65% of COVID-19 CASES ARE PEOPLE OF COLOR On your website, you recommend initiative sponsors submit at least 325,000 signatures by December 31st . However, the Department of Health (DOH) recently reported that COVID-19 is increasing in Puget Sound and across the state. DOH also reports that people of color are 65% of the racially identifiable Washingtonians infected with the deadly coronavirus. The sad irony is that many of these infected African-Americans, AsianAmericans, Hispanic-Latinx Americans, Native Americans and multi-racial Americans are the same people who want to sign WADA to end racial discrimination against their communities.
However, every time petitioners interact face to face with your recommended 325,000 people during this pandemic, we risk lives by increasing the spread of the deadly COVID-19 to others. MADAM SECRETARY, PLEASE OBEY THE LAW! Given these new revelations, we are demanding the Secretary of State immediately inform the public she will obey the following safe Washington laws as they pertain to all 2020 initiatives during COVID-19: 1. Washington State Constitution: Article I, Section 4, which states: “The right of petition and of the people peaceably to assemble for the common good shall never be abridged.” (emphasis added) 2. WAC 434-379-012 3(a) which states: “If the signature on the petition: (a) Is handwritten and matches the signature in the voter registration record according to the standards in WAC 434-379-020, the signature must be accepted.” 3. WAC 434-379-020 (1): “The following characteristics must be utilized to evaluate signatures to determine whether they are by the same writer: (1) The signature is handwritten.” Compliance with WAC 434-379-012 3(a), means applying the same two-prong standard of approval to online handwritten signatures as are currently applied to person-to-person signatures: 1) The voter’s signature must be handwritten; and 2) the voter’s signature must be matchable to the voter’s signature in their voter registration records.
Under WAC 434-379-012 3(a), if the voter’s signature is matchable to their signature on file in their voter registration records, the signature must be accepted. SAME STANDARD FOR ALL SIGNATURES! Holding online handwritten signatures to the same standard as on-paper handwritten signatures during COVID19, 1) protects every citizens’ constitutional rights to petition their government; and 2) prevents the spread of COVID-19 by temporarily eliminating the need for face-to-face, person-to-person signature gathering in Washington state until COVID-19 ends. Please confirm receipt of this letter and contact us at (206) 321-0382 with any questions. If we have not received a response from your office by close of business on Tuesday, July 17, 2020, we will have no choice but to take alternative actions due to your deafening silence during this public health emergency.
Ms. Carolyn Riley-Payne
President, Seattle-King County NAACP
Attachment: Washington State Department of Health COVID-19 News Release (June 26, 2020)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 9, 2020
AN OPEN LETTER TO OUR COMMUNITY, and addressed to our Superior Court and Supreme Court Judges of Washington State:
The Seattle King County NAACP is aware and concerned of the Washington State Supreme Court’s Order regarding the modification of jury trial proceedings issued on June 18, 2020. The order can be found here: http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20Orders/Jury%20Resumption% 20Order%20061820.pdf. This order will allow Washington State trial courts to begin using video technology as part of Voir Dire, i.e. the jury selection process. The order states in part:
The use of remote technology in jury selection, including use of video for voir dire in criminal and civil trials, is encouraged to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure. Any video or telephonic proceedings must be conducted consistent with the constitutional rights of the parties and preserve constitutional public access. Authorization for video- conference proceedings under CrR 3.4(d)(1) and CrR 3.4(d)(1) is expanded to include jury selection, though the requirement that all participants be able to simultaneously see, hear and speak to one another does not require that all potential jurors be able to simultaneously see one another.
This means the Washington State Supreme Court will allow trial courts to implement procedures that require potential jurors to participate in the jury selection process through the use of video technology. Potential jurors will presumably be able to participate through Zoom or some other similar technology.
The Supreme Court’s order is a perfect example of the systemic racism in the criminal justice system. People of color, especially those in lower income groups, will be unable to participate as potential jurors if they do not have access to broadband internet access and the hardware capable of utilizing the technology selected by the trial courts.
There are many articles written about the “digital divide” in America. This is to say, articles about the different technology available to different socioeconomic groups in the United States. For example, the Pew Research Center published an article on May 7, 2019, detailing the digital divide. You can find the article here: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/05/07/digital-divide-persists- even-as-lower-income-americans-make-gains-in-tech-adoption/. It states, “Thirty years after the debut of the World Wide Web, internet use, broadband adoption and smartphone ownership have grown rapidly for all Americans – including those who are less well-off financially. But even as many aspects of the digital divide have narrowed over time, the digital lives of lower- and higher-income Americans remain markedly different.” The article goes on to say, “With fewer options for online access at their disposal, many lower-income Americans are relying more on smartphones. As of early 2019, 26% of adults living in households earning less than $30,000 a year are “smartphone-dependent” internet users – meaning they own a smartphone but do not have broadband internet at home. This represents a substantial increase from 12% in 2013. In contrast, only 5% of those living in households earning $100,000 or more fall into this category in 2019.”
The effect of the Supreme Court’s order will be to decrease the number of potential jurors from communities of color. I do not believe the Supreme Court is intentionally engaging in racism. However, I think their order is an example of the systemic racism inherent in the criminal justice system. They have enacted a policy without any input from the communities it will affect the most and the result of this change will be to decrease the number of minorities included in the pool of potential jurors.
This order was issued without any input from stakeholders in the criminal jury trial process right after the Washington State Supreme Court issued an open letter that states, “The devaluation and degradation of black lives is not a recent event. It is a persistent and systemic injustice that predates this nation’s founding. But recent events have brought to the forefront of our collective consciousness a painful fact that is, for too many of our citizens, common knowledge: the injustices faced by black Americans are not relics of the past. We continue to see racialized policing and the overrepresentation of black Americans in every stage of our criminal and juvenile justice systems. Our institutions remain affected by the vestiges of slavery: Jim Crow laws that were never dismantled and racist court decisions that were never disavowed.”
The procedure authorized by the Washington State Supreme Court is similar to the Jim Crow laws of the past. This procedure allows those who can afford the technology to participate in the criminal justice system as a potential juror to the exclusion of those who cannot.
This procedure is wrong because the effect will be to decrease the participation of an already underrepresented community in the jury trial process as potential jurors. This process decreases the chances of Black and Brown people ever having a jury of their peers. Part of the jury experience is interacting and discussing with each other and watching body language, this will be almost impossible.
President of Seattle King County NAACP
Last year, the Seattle King County NAACP made history! Not only was I voted in as the LGBTQ Chair (the first in the organization's 112-year history), but the chapter also participated in Seattle Pride for the very first time.
This year, however, our community has been in chaos. Not only are we battling the COVID-19 pandemic, there have also been three recent shootings, including the tragic loss of Lorenzo Anderson. These trying times have me asking the question: What does Pride mean to me when our brothers and sisters keep getting killed in these streets?
With that said, myself and the Seattle King County NAACP have made the conscious decision not to participate in any Pride events this weekend. Our safety as Black individuals is constantly being challenged, and I implore this community to stand in solidarity with the Anderson family and all those who have so unjustly lost their lives.
We must have Integrity over Pride and pray that everybody stay blessed and stay safe.
DeAunte' Damper, NAACP LGBTQ Chair
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, you continue to not know your City, you continue to not understand the Black community, you continue to disrespect the African American Community. The NAACP, the oldest civil rights organization in Seattle, must continue to be at the City's table, as we effect real change for our Black and Brown brothers and sisters.
The NAACP Seattle King County supports the demands of Black Lives Matter and will walk with them on Friday June 12th for: all law enforcement at demonstrations to turn on their body cams for the entirely of their shift, divestment of $100 million from the police force and put towards community needs, and that community oversight be part of the police contract bargaining process. Please join in this national strike and silent march starting at Judkins Park in Seattle at 1pm.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 5, 2020
CONTACT: Carolyn Riley-Payne, President, Seattle/King County NAACP
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
The NAACP Seattle King County, under the leadership of President Carolyn Riley-Payne, invites you to our NAACP Prayer Vigil to honor the men and women who've been killed due to police lethal force. The following is an ask from our NAACP Religion Chair, Ezra T. Maize:
In light of recent events, crises and devastation that we have experienced in our City, the Seattle King County NAACP and clergy of Seattle have organized an 8-hour Preach-A-Thon and Prayer Vigil in honor of men and women who were murdered due to police brutality.
Our mission has always been to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination. This event will take place on Saturday, June 6, 2020, beginning at 12:00 p.m, and end at 8:00 p.m. at Cal Anderson Park, 1635 11th Ave. Seattle, WA 98122.
As the Religious Chair of the Seattle King County NAACP, under the leadership of President Carolyn Riley-Payne, I will be preaching and praying for 8 hours in memory of victims who have lost their lives due to police lethal force. We solicit the support of not only pastors, City officials, community leaders, organizations, but especially you as we pray for healing.
As leading pastors within our great City, we are asking pastors, after every hour of preaching, to volunteer in lighting a candle and praying for the victims' families that will be memorialized during that hour. We solicit your time, support, but most assuredly, your presence to help make this a success. If you are able to join us in lifting your voice in prayer during this event, you may contact Ezra at 646-860-8750.
We do apologize for such short notice, as we well know situations such as these are unpredictable.
Yours in Christ,
Ezra T. Maize Religious Chair, NAACP
Saturday, June 6, 2020
12:00 p.m, through 8:00 p.m.
Cal Anderson Park, 1635 11th Ave. Seattle, WA 98122