Register for “Wake Up & Work” Anti-Racism Workshop Series
Join PJALS steering committee vice-chair Taylor Weech for a series of evening workshops addressing what anti-racist principles look like in practice and planning ways to get more deeply involved as a multicultural coalition of members in identifying and addressing the racial elements of the issues we work on from police oversight to militarism and war. Register (at no cost) here!
We’ll start on a personal scale, exploring our own stories of race and how being vulnerable in our individual stories can open a space to look honestly at our own biases and behaviors and how the big stories of race in our country and region’s history show up in our family and neighborhood stories.
Moving through the three weeks, we’ll also put into practice–through role-play and story sharing–ways to interrupt both individual racism and the myths perpetuated by structural racism. Participants can expect to leave more certain of their role in combating racism and more prepared to engage in conversation and confrontation about race.
Registration is now open!
Organize, Vote, Act!
By Liz Moore, PJALS Director
Looking ahead, I am beginning to imagine what our work and our role would be living under a Donald Trump presidency or under a Hillary Clinton presidency. As I imagine this, I exhort myself to think like an organizer, which means, consider who will benefit and who will be hurt and how those of us who whose interest is not served can best position ourselves to work together to change the balance of power.
Of course PJALS is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. The rules about our work are very clear that we cannot support or oppose any candidate or any party. We can discuss issues and we can work on ballot measures and we can lobby legislators with a limited percentage of our resources. I know that PJALS members are quite capable of reaching their own conclusions about who they prefer to try to influence as President or other elected offices.
We are launching “Vote and Act – Peace and Justice Voter Project” with this issue of our newsletter. Our goals are to encourage our members and supporters to educate themselves, vote, encourage others to vote, and commit to act beyond election day. Read more »
Police Accountability Summer Gathering
By Jaclyn Archer, YALPista
On August 12 and 13 community organizers from Spokane, Portland, Seattle, Olympia, and other Washington cities came together to discuss police accountability in the Northwest. The first annual Northwest Community Coalition on Police Accountability was held at Portland State University, and hosted by the Portland NAACP in cooperation with the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS). The conference arose from the realization of community leaders in Spokane, Portland, and Seattle, that all three cities had been audited by the Department of Justice (DoJ), and according to Portland NAACP President, Jo Ann Hardesty, “all three [cities] got something slightly different out of it.”
The conference kicked off on Friday night with a vigil for Keaton Otis at the site where he was shot twenty-three times during a random stop by Portland police officers. Pockmarks from the bullets can still be seen in the brick of the building that stood behind him where he died. At the vigil, mothers of police shooting victims spoke to the gathered crowd of the need for reform and police accountability. Several in attendance held signs, while another local activist chalked the names of police shooting victims in the sidewalk. Read more »
Working Through a Tempest on Police Reform and Accountability
By Tim Connor
The circumstances surrounding the death of Otto Zehm at the hands of Spokane police in 2006 marked a turning point in the relationship between city government and the Spokane community.
After a local prosecutor declined to prosecute, the U.S. Justice Department opened a criminal investigation. That probe led to the conviction of an SPD officer and a broader indictment of the department for its decisions to “engage in an extensive cover-up” of video and other evidence implicating police misconduct. The revelations were all the more incendiary as city officials issued public statements suggesting the innocent, developmentally disabled janitor was responsible for his own killing.
In the decade since, the issues over police reform and efforts to put in place civilian oversight of the department have been the dominant issues in city politics. Those issues have boiled over, again, this year. Mayor David Condon, (who unseated his predecessor, Mary Verner, by focusing on her mishandling of the Zehm case) is now under intense scrutiny and facing a possible recall election for his administration’s efforts to cover-up and mislead the public about the circumstances behind police chief Frank Straub’s forced resignation last September. Read more »
Fair Chance Hiring Update
By Shar Lichty, Organizer
As part of our work as a member of Smart Justice Spokane, we have been working to create and pass a Fair Chance Hiring ordinance at the city level that would implement “Ban the Box” for most private employers within the city limits.
During the past few months we have been meeting with Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) to develop an ordinance that works for those who have arrest and conviction records and for businesses in our communities. We believe we have that ordinance now and we had a very encouraging meeting with leaders from GSI last month. They will be discussing it at their September Policy Committee meeting.
We have also been reaching out to other local businesses and asking for them to sign-on in support of Fair Hiring. We have a good start but would like to increase our numbers before presenting to the City Council. We are close to winning on this issue but need your help to get us there.
Do you own a business or know of a business in Spokane that supports Fair Hiring? If so, please visit and/or refer them to pjals.org/fairhiring or contact Shar at email@example.com. to sign-on to our statement of support.
City Council Votes for Indigenous People’s Day
On Aug. 29, 2016 the Spokane city council listened to community testimony urging support for the resolution to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day and with the exception of the lone conservative on the council, they did just that. Here is a brief report of that night from long time PJALS member Pauline Druffel.
We had an opportunity to face truth at Spokane’s Aug. 29th City Council Meeting when we listened to testimony regarding a resolution for Spokane to change “Columbus Day” to “Indigenous Peoples Day”. Local members of various indigenous tribes told their stories about why it was so hard for them to deal with the annual celebration of the man who started the practice of treating their ancestors as though they had no intrinsic value as human beings. Columbus over-powered the native people, gave them no rights, and totally used them to serve his desires and those of his rapacious invaders.
I had grown up with the myth that Christopher Columbus was a brave and daring man who “discovered” a “new” land, and brought back it’s riches to Spain. It’s only recently that I am hearing the truth that Columbus and his men raped and otherwise tortured the people he found. He enslaved them, and stole their treasures. He left a legacy of discounting the rights of the native people of this continent, a legacy that still lives today. On Monday night I heard testimony of mothers that their children are still being discriminated against in schools. And I know corporations in their eagerness to make money off coal and oil are still trying to disregard tribal rights. Examples are everywhere once I start to see.
There were also a few speakers who were opposed to changing the holiday to Indigenous People’s Day. They said what happened over five hundred years ago shouldn’t impact us today and wanted the Native people to just forgive and forget. But I’m aware that forgiveness is not so easy. It is made possible when perpetrators face their despicable actions, take responsibility for the damage done, stop the discrimination and make amends. We, the immigrants, have a long way to go to deserve this forgiveness. Honoring indigenous people rather than Christopher Columbus is a step in the right direction.
Organize, Vote, Act!
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Share your PJALS Story
We want to hear your PJALS story! As we near the end of our 40th year of building a just and nonviolent world, we are asking for your help to tell the story of PJALS–through your experiences.
Will you take a moment and fill out the short form here.