Coalition of Washington State Organizations Takes A Stand Against Bigotry and Violence, Calls for State Legislators to Refuse to Speak at Extremist Rally at State Capital
Olympia – A broad coalition has formed to speak out against extremism. Twenty-nine organizations from across Washington State have signed a statement asking that state legislators -- Jim Walsh, Robert Sutherland, Matt Shea, Brian Blake, Tom Dent, and Phil Fortunato-- cancel their scheduled appearances at the April 27 “March for Our Rights.” The event page on Facebook listed these officials as speakers on the event schedule along with organizations known in the Northwest for their violent rhetoric and actions.
Nina Martinez, Board Chair of Latino Civic Alliance offered this, "When our state legislators agree to speak at public events that divide communities and promote hate, this implies they share the same beliefs. Washington state deserves leaders that will advocate for peace and respect differences, not attack them."
The Coalition statement makes it clear that the nature of this rally is known by who is scheduled to speak. “These groups, including Patriot Prayer and Washington III% are anti-government extremists who threaten community safety and undermine our democratic institutions. Their rallies throughout the Pacific Northwest have attracted white nationalist groups including Identity Evropa, which helped organize the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA in 2017, and the racist, sexist paramilitary group the Proud Boys.” The Coalition statement can be read in full here.
The Coalition writes, “These groups seek to overturn I-1639, a democratically-enacted gun safety regulation approved by nearly 60% of Washington voters to help curb gun violence, but their extremist rhetoric is far more harmful than a debate around Second Amendment rights. They promote inflammatory anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and incite bigoted fears of Muslim and immigrant communities, when right wing extremist violence poses a far bigger danger to community safety. In fact, right wing extremists were responsible for every extremist murder in the U.S. last year."
For Sarah Stuteville, spokesperson for the Council on Islamic Relations -- Washington, the broad coalition that came forward willing to articulate the impact of being a bystander to this rally speaks volumes. “Hate and bigotry have been pulled into the mainstream and we see the results of that in steadily rising hate crimes across our state and country. CAIR-WA is pleased to see this statewide coalition willing to take a stand and call on elected officials to focus on unity and diversity and real policy issues, instead of division and fear. CAIR-WA is working hard to promote mutual understanding and we look forward to continuing this work toward building a community that is safe for everyone.”
The unifying message of the organizations making up this coalition -- whether are faith-based or issue focused -- is: “Our state is a beautiful place, with tremendous diversity and a range of beliefs. Faith Action Network advocates at the legislature so all of us have a safe place to live, free of violence and fear. We are asking people to stay away from the rally on the 27th as its aim is to divide us, not unite us,” says Paul Benz co-director of Faith Action Network.
The coalition members signing the statement are encouraging legislators to stand united against the rally. “Washington’s moms, parents, and families will not stand for racism, division, hate, and harm,” stated Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of MomsRising. “We are asking the legislators who are scheduled to speak to cancel their appearance, denounce this rally and its organizers, and commit to fighting back against the rise of white supremacy in the Northwest and across our nation."
The joint-statement calls on elected officials and the public at large to speak out and uphold a fundamental commitment “to building communities where all of us, whether we are Black, brown or white are able to live, love, and work free from fear, violence, and discrimination no matter our zip code.”
Alliance for Gun Responsibility
Asian Counseling and Referral Service
Council on American Islamic Relations - Washington
Equal Rights Washington
Faith Action Network
Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights
Islamic Center of Olympia
Latino Civic Alliance
Moms Demand Action
NAACP King County-Seattle
National Organization for Women – WA
Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation Faith in Action Ministry
Olympia Showing up for Racial Justice
Pacific NW Conference of the United Church of Christ
Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane
Planned Parenthood Votes – Greater Northwest and Idaho
Planned Parenthood Votes – Northwest and Hawaii
People of Color Community Coalition
Rabbi Seth Goldstein, Temple Beth Hatfiloh Olympia
The United Churches of Olympia
Thurston Gun Sense
Veterans for Peace Rachel Corrie Chapter
Washington Community Action Network
Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network
Western States Center