Monday, February 15, 2016

On This Presidents' Day - #ArresttheLegislature

Press Release (bold mine):

#ArrestTheLegislature Press Conference
on School Funding and Black Lives Matter

Who: All City Black Student Union (BSU) and Black Law Student Association, Garfield High School BSU members, University of Washington BSU members, Chief Sealth High School BSU members, Rainier Beach High School BSU members, Seattle University Black Law Students Association Members, BlackOut Washington, and Black Lives Matter organizers


What: Press conference providing testimony about school funding, the opportunity gap, the McCleary decision & the legislature remaining in contempt of court, and Black Lives Matter

When: Monday, February 15, 2016 at 2:00 p.m.


Where: The Capitol Building Steps
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In order for us as poor and oppressed people to become part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed... It means facing a system that does not lend its self to [our] needs and devising means by which [we] change that system.
- Ella Baker

For the first time in Washington State history the Legislature was held in contempt of court for failing to obey the orders of the Washington State Supreme Court. Since the contempt finding the Legislature has continued to ignore the ruling of the Court. As a result, the Legislature is being fined $100,000 per a day for willful failure to comply due to the Legislatures neglect to put forth a plan to fully fund K-12 education in the State.

When an average citizen is found to be in contempt of court and continues in non-compliance they are not simply fined. They may also be arrested and placed in jail. How is it that those who create the laws are not subject to those laws? How are we to have confidence in those who create and enforce the laws if they, the Legislature, can live above those laws?

To add insult to injury, in 2015 the Washington State Legislature received an 11.2% raise. Melissa Albert of the Washington State Citizens Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials is quoted in the Seattle Times stating, “We thought there was some catching up to do… ‘We don’t want to have a Legislature made up of only people who are independently wealthy.” While this is a thoughtful sentiment, it overlooks the reality. How can we become a part of the Legislature if we do not receive equal and equitable quality education and opportunities?

Times such as these remind us that the law and justice are not the same thing. In the wake of widespread outrage and community mobilization against police brutality, police in schools, mass incarceration, gentrification, and the constant policing, killing and targeting of black and brown peoples and communities, the actions of the Legislature and the Court reveal to us an uncomfortable reality—we are not all equal under the law.

On African American Lobby Day, we will gather to share our stories regarding education, access to opportunity, and the school to prison pipeline. We will also release a set educational demands and expectations for what we intend to be the future of education in Washington State.

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