Healing work not finished
in response to May 31 events
SNOHOMISH — The incidents that took place on First Street the evening of May 31, and the days following, caused an uproar within the community of Snohomish.
During the Tuesday, June 2 City Council meeting, concerns from the public were focused on certain community leaders not taking action against the assembly of a militia-type group on the quiet streets of Snohomish.
City Council President Jason Sanders said that from the amount of raw emotion, anger and frustration directed toward leaders of the community, it became apparent the city council was not going to solve the problem and ease the minds of the community alone. Sanders decided to form the Snohomish Leader Forum.
“I started to reach out to people that I knew in the community, who I felt were a good voice, good community leaders,” Sanders said. “Before I knew it, there were probably eight to 10 people.”
Diversity is an important aspect of the leaders forum. Sanders and the rest of the council wanted to make sure everyone throughout the community was heard and considered.
“We have a couple of folks who are on the younger generation, whether they’re in high school or recently graduated, we have people who are on (either) the right or the left side of the political spectrum, people who are longtime residents, people who are new (to Snohomish), people of color, and that’s how that whole Snohomish Leader forum came together,” Sanders said.
The objective of the Snohomish Leader forum is to reconcile the image of Snohomish within the public eye; Connecting the community, providing training or educational seminars regarding racism and awareness, as well as mentoring the youth.
“The City Council got pretty overloaded with a lot of people expressing concern, deep concern about what had transpired on First Street,” said The Rev. Charlie Lewis, a member of the leader forum and co-pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Snohomish.
“Jason (Sanders), myself and a couple other (community leaders) began talking about what we could do to help respond in a positive way.”
Lewis has taken it upon the church to host a discussion on racism online Aug. 16.
“We’re calling it a roundtable on racism. That’s coming up on August 16. It’s also an outgrowth of the effort by the community,” said Lewis. The roundtable on racism is spearheaded by the faith community, stated Lewis.
The link for the roundtable on racism taking place Sunday, Aug. 16 at 4 p.m. can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/Roundtable-on-racism
Sanders wanted to make sure the community was going to be heard, as well as represented.
“I felt like this is more of a community-wide issue,” said Sanders. “We needed to bring these good leaders in and start to have some conversations about; what we see in the community? What are we blind to? How do we make sure we’re really listening to all of these voices?”
In design, the forum will be made up of many community members; business owners, employees of the school district, police officers, as well as residents old and young.
“We want to demonstrate that we’re really a community that embraces people of different colors and wants everyone to feel welcome,” said Lewis. “We have met twice now as a community forum to discuss what positive steps we can take forward.”
The forum hosted a town hall in June for citizens to express concerns.
“That was a forum where each of us presented our perspective on what’s happening in the community, what we can do to better the community and to address the issue of racism in the community,” Lewis said.
Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney is a member of the forum and according to Sanders has been discussing the changes he sees at the county sheriff level. The Sheriff’s Office also plans to work together with another member of the forum, Jason Morris, to develop a mentoring program for the youth in the community. Morris owns a mixed martial arts (MMA) gym in Snohomish.
“Jason’s trying to get into the schools and trying to figure out ways that he can mentor people who are youth at risk (or similar situations),” said Sanders. “The sheriff’s department is trying to align with that, to see if they can get some mentoring roles.”
According to Sanders, in addition to mentoring, awareness training will be implemented into the Snohomish School District for staff and students. Sanders also stated the council is aiming to do the same within the city government.
Training such as this is intended to raise awareness of the biases minorities have to deal with on a regular basis and the systematic racism within our country
The forum has met multiple times already and has discussed a diversity training for anyone in the community who is interested.
“There have been some conversations about, could we provide bias training, racial awareness at more of the community level,” said Sanders.”It would be a free event, we would have it as virtual training and people can join that from the community level. So, three different areas of training.”
Sanders said he has floated out the idea that the city of Snohomish would pay for the training but would be hosted by the religious community.
“They would facilitate that training, but it would be paid for by the city,” said Sanders. “We haven’t vetted that whole thing out yet, but something along those lines.”
According to Sanders, the amount of involvement and positive energy from the community to address the problems raises awareness of the issues.
“Whether it’s the Snohomish Leaders forum or Snohomish for Equity, whether it’s a training that we’re talking about, whether it’s town halls that are put on, there’s been really a lot of interest amongst the community,” said Sanders.
The leader forum has the opportunity for people to get involved if they feel strongly about making a difference.
“You got this spectrum,” said Sanders. “Some people who don’t feel there’s a problem at all, and some people who feel that this is a massive problem that needs to be resolved, or at least raised in our community. And then I think you have a big part of our community that feels like they’re starting to understand and maybe open their eyes a little bit more to their own biases, and racism in Snohomish.”
Those looking to be involved with the Snohomish Leader Forum can reach out to Charlie Lewis or the city council.
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