Thank you for mentioning in “Black Washingtonians question disparate treatment in images of white extremists storming Capitol” [Jan. 8, Local News] that here in Washington state, we have also seen widely differing law enforcement responses to white protesters carrying guns than to unarmed Indigenous activists carrying songs and prayers.
The responses in Olympia are a pattern that needs more than just a vague “we’ll look into it” from Gov. Jay Inslee.
Three times, Protectors of the Salish Sea have erected Tarpees (Indigenous teepee-like structures covered by tarp) on or near the Capitol steps for climate-emergency awareness, and have been met by violence and swift removal each time. The most recent happened in early 2020, just weeks before much larger crowds of armed white protesters resulted in only a few officers (without the riot gear standard for climate demonstrations) and the crowd allowed to break the newly enacted law restricting large gatherings.
Gov. Inslee often speaks of the shameful actions of President Donald Trump and contrasts himself as an opposite of these behaviors, but perhaps it’s time for the governor and Washington state to have a deeper look in the mirror and admit that systemic racism is still entwined in our reactions to public outcry and use of law enforcement against Black, brown and Indigenous people.
Stacy Oaks, Tulalip