A demonstration against racism was held at Kirkland City Hall Feb. 17 in response to a recent incident last month in Redmond.
The “Rejecting the Rags of Racism and Living into the Riches of Diversity” event, organized by the Eastside Race and Leadership Coalition (ERLC), was put on after a white suspect delivered Ku Klux Klan-type items to the consignment shop. The black owner Leona Coakley-Spring and her son Shane Coakley, were both in the store at the time of the incident.
Recalling an incident of his own in D.C., ERLC member James Whitfield said that “racism doesn’t only happen there. It also happens here.” Saying that Kirkland is “pretty good” when it came to race relations, he called on members of the community to speak up when they see or hear prejudiced things from others and that their silence is part of the problem.
“Speaking up and standing up against racism makes people uncomfortable,” he said.
Also speaking at the event was Mayor Amy Walen and Councilmembers Penny Sweet and Jay Arnold.
Referencing the city’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan, she recited the plan’s vision for the city to be “respectful, fair, and inclusive.”
“Our diversity makes us stronger,” she said.
Noting that it also happened to be Black History month and History month for Kirkland specifically, Arnold and Sweet both said that fighting against racism was something they didn’t think their generation would have to deal with.
“We just have to continue to fight,” Sweet said.
As part of the event, those attending were encouraged to sign personal action statements on a piece of colored fabric and attach it to an archway display meant as a symbol of peace in the Pacific Northwest. Among those was one made by students from the LEADPrep Academy.