This is why we’re protesting in Federal Way | Letters to the editor

Why we’re protesting

As a Black man living in Federal Way for the past 4 years, I was moved by the recent article by Bob Roegner. This is exactly why we’re protesting today, yesterday and yesteryears of our history in America.

I myself have felt the injustice at the hands of Federal Way police in front of my family for a car accident on my way home from work (16-hour day). So to think of the bias of not having an oversight or outside agencies to investigate our police officers and police department further fuels the rage we feel as Black and brown United States citizens living in Federal Way.

To disregard the changing demographics of our community is shameful and it highlights the racist mentality of our local government. It is a privilege to serve in such positions as police chief and mayor, not a given right. Such positions and consideration should be as diverse as their community.

Last time I checked, you spend our money without such bias and racist intent. Just quick thoughts from a Black taxpaying member of this community.

Michael Mason, Federal Way

Thank you FWPD

Just want to say thank you to Federal Way Police Department for giving my family one mask for each of us.

Cristiano Suzuki, Federal Way

Big headlines

The death of so many young people, regardless of color, is sad and hard to read about. But by the same token, any child killed is heartbreaking. The news media seems to be set that all deaths of young Black men are because of the irresponsibility of all “white law enforcement officers.” Always “big headlines” on the front page. If you need a cop, the next time you need one, please don’t call one because if you are white, they may not come.

Patsy Gee, Federal Way

Federal Way’s interests

I think Federal Way has a lot more serious problems than a few doors (RE: Vandalism of church’s Pride doors). I think it is just a distraction from the real problems here. I have lived here all my life and the city has gone from all the people’s interest to the people of special interest. This isn’t just happening here. It is everywhere, and one day it will come back to be dealt with.

Ken Culliton, Federal Way

Public safety and police presence

Neither a person’s blackness nor proximity to poverty should be justification for suspicion or assumption of criminality.

In his recent opinion piece, Bob Roegner stated that most citizens have witnessed the police brutality plaguing the nation and asked, “Why does this keep happening?” Black Americans have known for centuries why “this” keeps happening.

Amid the current unrest in our political climate, when public officials make statements saying that public safety is their number one priority in the same context as expanding the size of the city’s police force, it is evident that the intersection of racism and police brutality — while it is currently at the forefront of most people’s minds in the United States — escapes most of the city’s leadership.

Public safety interventions can, in fact, occur in lieu of law enforcement interactions. When did “public safety” come to be synonymous with armed police presence?

We did not reach where we are today by accident nor lack of police “professionalism.” Body-worn cameras were introduced in the United States around 2014, and widely supported as a measure of accountability to give the public some reassurance that misconduct would be documented.

It is glaringly obvious that documentation itself is not the problem, considering the fact that we have seen so many videos recorded by civilians just over the past five years. Rather, the problem lies with the expectation that such a powerful agency will monitor and discipline itself without bias. It took a strong community outcry for the Federal Way Police Department to share the video of the killing of 23-year-old Malik Williams on Dec. 31, 2019.

The recent release of footage from North Carolina’s Wilmington Police Department was one example of the exact behavior supported by a belief system that is being protested internationally. The video that surfaced of the Wilmington officers did not show one “bad cop” — it showed three individuals, each of whom had the power of the police force, and by extension the law, to protect them. While their firing merits praise, the bigger issue at hand is that these individuals were even hired as police officers in the first place.

As stated by former King County Sheriff John Urquhart: “Police shouldn’t have to respond to dog calls, neighbor disputes and any incident involving someone in mental health distress. Police are called upon to solve many of society’s problems, and they should not be expected to anymore.”

We need to see our local government actively commit to building community-based alternatives to police intervention, to de-escalation and non-violent solutions, and investing into organizations like the Federal Way Youth Action Team. Start by following the City of Tacoma’s lead, and have a webpage with police use of deadly force cases made available to the public.

If we do not have leadership that recognizes the history of violent racism that fostered the ongoing distrust of police in the communities it pays to police, we have already set ourselves up for failure.

We need leadership that is not afraid to acknowledge that racism and white supremacy are woven deeply into the framework of policing in the United States — leadership that will commit to doing better than financing an increase in police under the logic that more guns will foster a “safer” community.

Now is the time to feel emboldened and think imaginatively, to think differently about what public safety means to all of us.

Whitney Lane, Federal Way