Stating that “Black lives matter in Edmonds and in this country,” Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson announced Monday that he is forming an Equity and Justice Advisory Task Force.
“Those of us in local government must take a hard look within, listen, have honest conversations, be open to real change, and take tangible actions to support our African-American residents,” Nelson said.
The goal of the task force is “to help identify and correct issues of systemic and implicit bias within city operations in response to the aggressions and inequities perpetrated on African-Americans around the nation and in our region,” Nelson said.
The mayor said that formation of the task force dovetails with a recommendation two years ago by the Edmonds Diversity Commission that the city consider establishing an internally focused task force. It will meet regularly once formed and will report to Nelson, with assistance from staff.
The task force’s work will be focused on recommending resulting policies, procedures, or other changes that may be needed within the police department and city hall, the mayor added. The group will be comprised of civic and business community members, as well as representatives from regional equity and inclusion organizations and city officials, Nelson said. The exact make-up is still being determined and will be announced when the task force is officially formed.
“The singular focus of violence and mistreatment visited on black people in our society is an illness that must be rooted out and eradicated. Even if the most harmful examples of this mistreatment occur elsewhere, this work starts at home,” Nelson said. “No member of the law enforcement community or city government is immune from this illness. I want this task force to help inform me and my administration about any and all implicit or explicit forms of social injustice or bias that might exist in city government, and identify specific ways we can promote a community that is supportive to the African-American community.
“As we rebuild our economy from the ravages of COVID-19, we must take this opportunity to rebuild in a way that achieves greater equity, inclusion, fairness, and dignity for all members of our society – especially African-Americans who have been so disproportionately oppressed – as well as other marginalized populations,” he added.