Letter to the editor: 21st District delegation committed to creating anti-racist solutions


As your elected representatives in the 21st District, we join together to make a statement against two acts that took place on the same day in our community, two acts that illustrate the deep need to confront the systemic racism that permeates our society.

In the light of day, a vandal defaced an important and politically powerful “I Can’t Breathe” art installation in downtown Edmonds. This installation was created by a local high-school graduate with the support of the City. While we are saddened to have to address this wanton destruction, we were also heartened by the outpouring of support from local residents who quickly gathered to repair the artwork.

Later that evening, our community again came together to condemn and challenge ill-informed and dangerous statements made by the student representative at the Edmonds City Council meeting. Those words highlighted the real legacy of racism and why our shared American history cannot be understood without understanding the evolution of slavery into legal, political, and economic oppression. We need to truly address the deep and long-lasting effects these dark periods of our history have on black and brown people.

As your elected officials in Olympia, we will continue to work with our communities of color to address systemic racism and create long-lasting and sustainable anti-racist solutions—stopping police brutality, creating access and opportunities for people of color, addressing mass incarceration, and investing in underserved communities.

The solidarity demonstrated by our community in reaction to this racism reinforces the  persistence and fortitude we will need to do this work and to continue to say out loud that Black Lives Matter.

Senator Marko Liias

Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self

Representative Strom Peterson


  1. I’ll start out with a couple simple questions.. How are rules that apply equally to everyone discriminatory and racist? And conversely, how are rules that only apply to one group of people not discriminatory and racist?

    Artwork? This a solely a political statement purposefully erected in the most disrespectful location, in front of the Edmonds PD. Children behave better. Controversial to many, and only important if you buy into purposefully misleading BLM claims and the groupthink it represents. Clear thinking, non-racist adults in the room are offended by this “art.” But this is dismissed and ignored, pompously and intolerantly labeling that all dissenting opinion is ill informed and dangerous? Only thing dangerous is your bullying and the facts refuting your narrative making it to the light of day. This defacement is a cry for justice from the racist attitude of you and others of your ilk. Tone deafness to this reality will make the inevitable future cries for “unity” and “coming together” a joke and will rightly fall on deaf ears for many.

    You speak mostly for and benefit of the “never been anywhere never done anything” naive leftist activist whites here far more than you do to the black community. 55 years of Democrat policy failures in the inner city black communities and Democrat solutions that simply double down on more government Dem-dependence. It’s worked for more votes up until now, but thank god Blexit is real. What slavery and Jim Crow couldn’t destroy, the Dems did with the destruction of the black families, absent fathers, abortions etc.. Like success stories from all races, there are those who reject victim-hood, instead reaping the benefits of good choices, hard work and personal responsibility, not whining about woe is me.

    And instead of uniting races by working for judgments based on merit or character, you further divide by pushing a favored race or tribe based judgment, a win-loose paradigm. Like many “leaders” here, you simply are unwilling and uninterested in seeking a win-win for us all instead of solely pandering to your base. Disgusting. And about “Systemic racism”. Specifically where & when? In 2020, our decisions define our reality, not the color of our skin.

    Solidarity? I and many other stand in opposition to you and your agenda. We will continue to stand in solidarity with personal responsibility, and against the dishonesty and victimhood that BLM pushes and you and your ilk pander to.

    You folks are the problem, not the solution.

  2. Thank you very much for your work. I think that creating effective legislation to address the issues of systemic racism could be one of the most import pieces of legislation coming out of Olympia in decades.

    However, I have seen a number of solutions to address this serious issue of racism that would either make the issue they are trying to address worse like the ‘defund the police movement,’ or even sidestep the issue in favor of ‘justified vengeance’ by creating more institutionalized forms of racism against people who are white. Beyond my view that racism is wrong period, I do not believe that these strategies effectively addresses the social inequities that are inherit in our society towards people of color.

    This is a critical time and opportunity for real change in our society, and you are in a unique position to make real and lasting positive change. It is a major decision whether to choose politically expedient hashtag slogans like ‘defund the police’ that have proven to increase the death and pain in the communities they are supposed to help, or whether you will help develop and support real long lasting and meaningful change. “Under Policing” has long been decried as a racist backlash due to the death and pain in the communities that it hurts, and now a movement wants to make that pain and increased death permanent because the refuse to look at the consequences of their actions, and the phrase feels vengeful and easy to chant. That is more than just a wasted opportunity, it is a betrayal to those who are looking for real and meaningful change.

    It is an ironic and confusing thing that the official position of the BLM organization is a policy that would kill more black people, while people who generally support the “Black Lives Matter” movement have come up with many other policies that would make a real positive difference. As our representatives, I believe it is your job to weed through the different proposals and objectively choose the ones that are best for our society.

    The student representative at the July 14th Edmonds City Council meeting was clearly wrong in his conclusions on race. There is very real issues of police brutality towards minority communities, and the issue of white racism is very, very real. However, there is a very real danger in just putting viewpoints like this out of mind and out of sight. These same viewpoints are expressed in even greater vitriol and malice from mainstream rightwing media, and even from the current President of the United States. It is unfortunately a fairly mainstream way of thinking on the political right.

    As wrong as the statements that Mr. Bauder made, he took a significant risk to make those statements. People have been fired for saying much less, and as a person who is hoping to attend college soon, he put himself and the future of his entire family at risk to publicly say those words. He felt strongly enough about them to take that risk. It was clear that his experience of people justifying racism towards white people had a major impression on him. He noted his experience with students publicly justifying repeat violent sex offenders due to “oppression” without anyone objecting, teachers claiming that people who are not white cannot be held accountable for racism, and classmates justifying abusive relationship based on the person being white . This likely pushed him to accept the rightwing narratives that are also espoused by people like Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, and Donald Trump. Although I have never heard Trump ask people to assume good intent, or encourage dialogue before making one of his racist statements.

    I believe that trying to address the problems of institutionalizes racism towards people of color by enacting polices that support or encourage racism towards people who are white only inflames the issue, and creates viewpoints like those of the Edmonds student representative Mr. Bauder.

    In Seattle, city employees were recently segregated by race for a training, and those that were white were told to “undo their Whiteness.” The training instructed them to give up “relationships with other white people,” “job security,” and their “physical safety,” based solely on the color of their skin. This is just as wrong as people being told to “undo their blackness” or “undo their Asianness.” Worse of all, this training was from the Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights where people are instructed to go to report issues of bias.


    Companies are openly telling people that they will not hire people based on their race, people are openly justifying crimes based on race, and people are even openly advocating violence based on race. Certainly there has been a long history of hateful groups like the KKK and other who have done the same thing, but I do not believe that these actions are just, or are a good way to bring about social equality. It certainly is not something that I believe that Dr. King would have supported.

    I hope that when you do make legislation to address these issues, that you take the job seriously and thoughtfully, and make real long lasting change. I urge you to thoroughly review the counterproductive policies like “defund the police,” even if it is a popular catchphrase at the moment.

  3. There are a few areas where I think that some of the most substantial changes can be made.

    1) Set up a permanent department to look at new police training protocols, technology reviews, and community organizers to reduce the likelihood of violent police encounters.

    Deescalation is a commonly used term, but a reduction of violence by police officers, or on police officers can be greatly reduced before it ever gets to the point that a situation needs to be deescalated. New technologies that are far less damaging than rubber bullets such as the BolaWrap greatly reduce the need for police to use firearms. Police training like those in Germany that use interactive projectors at the firing ranges prepare the police in more real life situations with multiple options for non lethal encounters so they do not panic under pressure. Community education is also needed to teach people to safely interact with the police to reduce the likelihood of people fighting or creating dangerous situations with the police.


    2) Misdemeanor justice reform

    80% of people incarcerated are put in jail for misdemeanors. This is a costly and ineffective method for criminal justice. This not only cost our State a lot of money to arrest and jail, but it reduces the economic future and productive capability of thousands of people. Many of these offenses, especially drug offenses, should be put in alternative programs that focus on reduced recidivism and rehabilitation. This would focus more police effort on violent and sexual assaults that would have real impacts for the safety and health of our communities. This would also allow for more focus and reduction of repeat offenders.

    3) Gang reduction task force

    Gangs can have a devastating influence on the communities that they prey upon, and people are sometimes forced to join gangs when communities are over run. This cannot be fixed by just throwing money at the issue, but requires a large variety of groups to intervene. Reducing the number of gangs in the State would absolutely reduce the number of violent murders in the community and dangerous interactions with the police.

    4) Body cameras, surveillance cameras of high crime areas, increased social workers, and predictive policing

    There are certainly privacy issues with cameras, but they have proven to increase accountability. However, we cannot just ask that of the police departments who put their lives on the line to protect us. Cameras are needed in high crime areas to decrease the number of aggressive interactions with police. More social workers are needed to work with homeless and mental health cases.

    5) Education

    Schools and community colleges are an essential component of helping to provide people with the opportunities to avoid the need to engage in crimes.

  4. 1) Yet more government is the solution. If the money is not there for the new devices what is the point of saying buying them will help?

    2) Letting people slide on minor offenses has never been shown to prevent the graduation to larger crimes, the only studies I have seen show the opposite effect. For a local example look at the effort in downtown Seattle (prior to CHAD) and you will see an explosion of crime by people that were “given a break.” There is a theory “broken windows” that has shown by increasing enforcement of minor crimes it gets to troubled people early and reduces crime down the road. Worked in NYC when they tried it, now they are in a bail reform movement and reducing crime by not enforcing minor offenses, the result crime is WAY up.

    3) Can’t, racist.

    4) Should have been done a long time ago, also have to have a system where they go on when you start shift and only go off only when you leave shift, again though a money issue.

    5) Teaching people how to think creates confident productive citizens, teaching people what to think creates drone mobs of “right” thinkers.

    1. I would disagree with a number of your premises.

      1) The term “more government” is a general rightwing criticism, but it lacks any real meaning since there are good and bad forms of government. Without government structures, there would be no capitalism, business, Police, or schools. You have to clarify that with actual points of argument. Without specific points, a term like “more government” is as meaningless as “more business,” or “more schools.” It’s all about quality not quantity.

      2) There are a lot of nuances in criminal justice reform. There are absolutely ones that have made meaningful and positive reform. Again quality over quantity.

      3) On this point, you may be right. The failure of BLM to look at violence in minority communities is one of it’s largest failures. If we want to really say that black lives matter, we can’t ignore the largest sources of black death because they don’t want to talk about it.

      4) Yeah, we agree!

      5) Opportunities for economic advancement is a powerful tool to prevent crime.

  5. What I know for sure is that as long as we approach every issue in the land from the viewpoint of the extremes of both sides of the political spectrum we are never going to solve anything in the long run. You have pretty good examples of those extreme views presented right here in this thread. The sooner the majority of us move to just center “right” or just center “left” the better. Until then we will just continue the conflict and chaos of the Trump era, whether Trump is in charge or not. There are only two ways to run things. One is conflict and chaos (law of the jungle and might makes right) and the other is collaboration, compromise, co-operation and compassion (the law of a modern truly democratic and humane society). The middle ground will succeed and anything else will fail. It’s our choice as a people no matter what color we are.

    1. I would agree with your point Clinton, but I would add that the primary problem that I see is a lack of discussion and critical thinking that pushes people towards the extremes. The trends of social media and partisan news pushes people towards viewpoints that they already agree with, and away from discussions and facts that challenge their own worldview.

      During the Cuban middle crisis, they termed the phrase “group think,” where people grouped together with similar ideas, and did not challenge the thinking of each other, even when they knew that some of the ideas may be wrong. These conditions of rejecting critical thinking in favor of blind party loyalty had near world ending consequences.

      More than ever, this country needs meaningful exchanges of ideas to address the many problems that we face. The push towards the extremes in my mind is a symptom of this trend for people to adhere to group loyalty first and blindly accept the policies of those groups without much question at all, rather than focusing on the ideas and policies first.

      A successful democracy would have a lot more exchanges of ideas between and across parties.

      1. You both are correct, common ground and centrist positions are beneficial and the best way forward when feasible. I still generally hold today most of the centrist values I grew up with, and consider myself a centrist currently. The general problem for many traditionals like myself, is that this country has been dragged leftward at a tremendous rate, certainly since the 60’s and most rapidly during the last ten years. Initially with progressive liberals and now with the socialist leftists championed by Barrack Obama during his reign. The robust but reasonable discussions and disagreements of the JFK liberal would be considered heresy to the modern woke leftist. I hold more in common with JFK than do most modern leftists.

        In the recent past, kids and their care dominated what was good in America and consequently what drove opinion. This kid-based center has been abandoned by leftist activists orgs, simply looking for political victory for their particular “right” without concern for consequences or real care or concern about effect on kids and our culture generally. I think Mr. Bauder is a poster child in his disgust about his “education” and “educators”.

        America is an idea, whose shared characteristics and ideals include capitalism, republican government, love of knowledge, wisdom, honesty, hard work, personal responsibility et al. There are many things to find common ground with including following the golden rule, a tolerance for live and let live, and attempt to put people in front of politics in our daily dealings. But there are a number that are not. We have now much more aggressive, radical, and violent Alinsy-esque socialists pushing their agenda with a complicit media, so the center ground is disappearing. We’ve just witnessed the violence, and racist “hate” and “Affirmative” policies that are now commonplace. Cancel culture, intersectional judgments, attacks on the constitution just to name just a few. Unfortunately, these are examples of things that violate many of the formerly shared ideals spelled out by our brilliant founders that are the crux of the “Idea of America”. Most I know will never compromise on these, they will have to be settled at the ballot box. And I’m very interested to see what the many middle aged and above blacks who were hurt in the BLM/Antifa looting will say in the upcoming elections.

        And finally, let’s be perfectly clear about the elephant in the room. Simply stated, without the media fueled fog of TDS, and like it or not; Trump’s positions in pushing for America 1st are what many see as “American Dream” policies and those that would be considered centrist just a short time ago. JFK would support many of the MAGA positions. And we’re neither the idiots nor fools painted by the media; many believing Trump is the last best hope of the ideals of the American dream before it sinks in the Marxist sludge.

        I live in hope, and do put people before politics in my daily dealings; but am sure we have some tough discussions and realities that will have to be dealt with.

  6. As a parent with a child currently in the Edmonds school district I’d like to bring up two points about this letter.

    First, one of the student’s core points is that Racism is being used as a weapon by unscrupulous or unwitting individuals and organizations as there is not enough of it in many areas so it’s being created artificially. Your letter is actually giving validity to his argument.

    Second, I spent a few minutes and was easily able to fact-check his comments and while I cannot confirm his high school relationship observations, his research is sound and his facts are accurate if not understated. Your avoiding his argument and relying on blind compassion is probably a good idea since he did his homework and would most likely win any open debate on the topic.

    Finally, I can confirm his point regarding bias in our local K12 schools. Black Lives Matter propaganda is rampant and actual discussion of race and gender is discouraged and only liberal dogma is taught in classrooms. He was right about that too.

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