I am profoundly moved by the events of the past ten days, and am staying in touch with all our communities in the 33rd legislative district to hear concerns about police agencies and constituent complaints. I have been reassured with what I have heard so far. I am continuing to connect with our local communities to learn what steps we can take to improve police accountability and security for all our neighbors.
The Senate Democratic Caucus leadership has sent this open letter to the people of Washington state on behalf of the entire caucus:
The Senate Democratic Caucus – fully recognizing that our own state Senate lacks the voice of even a single Black legislator, a voice that needs to ground us today and always – stands with our Black neighbors throughout Washington as we grieve together the violent and unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, David McAtee, Charleena Lyles, Manuel Ellis and too many others, at the hands of law enforcement.
A history of systemic and institutionalized racism and violence leveled against our Black neighbors has manifested in days of protests around our grieving country, including here at home. As the Senate Democratic Caucus, we unequivocally stand with those who are raising their voices in pain, anger and hope to make demands for substantive change.
We are moved by the love and grief displayed over the life and death of George Floyd that has mobilized so many of every background, some for the first time. Though our state and country face a moment of deep pain and renewed trauma, we are also witness to a pivotal moment of potential historic change in public policy; one with an opportunity to craft equitable and compassionate laws that serve all of us.
We recognize that the power to make substantive change lies with us, the policymakers. We recognize this power to make substantive change should have been wielded long ago. We recognize that Black, Indigenous and brown lives have been disproportionately subjected to police brutality in addition to the merciless cycle of incarceration. We are committed to changing these broken institutions.
Our agenda will be shaped by the community. We are committed to listening and working alongside Black leaders and organizers. Their ideas and their solutions to these issues will be elevated so that we may respond to their call for action. Successful efforts toward change have always had their origins at the local level. We are listening.
Know that we grieve with you, stand united in your call for justice and promise to work with you in these next crucial steps toward real change.
On behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus,
Sen. Andy Billig
Sen. Manka Dhingra
Deputy Majority Leader
Sen. Rebecca Saldaña
Deputy Majority Leader
Senator Karen Keiser
Chair, Senate Labor & Commerce Committee
Senate President Pro Tempore