1 August 2017
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray
Chief of Police, Kathleen O’Toole
Director of OPA, Andrew Myerberg
Seattle City Council
Community Police Commission
Dear Mayor Murray, Chief O’Toole, Mr. Myerberg, Seattle City Council members, and Community Police Commission,
UAW Local 4121 represents over 4,500 academic student employees (ASEs) at the University of Washington, across all three campuses. Since the November Presidential election, there has been a surge of hate speech and crimes on campus fueled by the racist, sexist, Islamophobic, transphobic and homophobic rhetoric coming from the incoming Trump administration, all of which has been inappropriately protected under claims of the right to free speech. Here on campus, we’ve also documented an increase in hate crimes since the November election. Students have felt threatened and been targeted. These experiences are not unique to the UW community.
Our members attended the “Seattle Stands with our Muslim Neighbors” rally and march on 10 June. We fully support the demands of the open letter authored by members of the Coalition, especially taking into consideration the forthcoming rally on 13 August. Why did the Seattle Police, who had been notified of the Coalition’s plans and peaceful intentions, repeatedly allow for members of anti-Muslim hate groups to infiltrate and attack Coalition members? Why were those spouting hate only given warnings after they became violent, while peaceful Coalition members were pepper sprayed and arrested? We join the community signatories in calling for the Seattle Police Department’s accountability.
Since April 2017 we have taken action on campus to oppose bigotry, by speaking out against racist expressions and actions, opposing the travel ban and bargaining with the UW administration over its impacts on our members and others, and pushing for changes to ensure that our campus and the surrounding region are true sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants.
As such, we understand the call in the open letter to be part of the larger fights for equity and against anti-Muslim targeting that manifested during the 10 June action. Like our allies who were signatories to the open letter to you, we demand positive institutional change that works to erode the bias against people of color. We implore you to respond to the open letter no later than 7 August, and look forward to future community dialogues.
Monica Cortes Viharo
Arshiya Hoseyni Chime