Racial Justice in Vancouver

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Racism is an issue that can no longer be ignored ─ not by organizations, leaders, or the people who live in our community.

We recognize the existence of systemic inequalities and structural racism, both in our country and our community, and this issue demands our engagement and attention.

We are committed to fighting against racism and working toward an equitable and inclusive city.

We invite every member of our community to join us in this work. Share your personal experiences with racism, offer ideas about what the City can do to address racism in our community, or sign up to speak at a future in-person or remote listening session using the engagement tabs below.

Page Ground Rules:

  • There are no bad questions or ideas here
  • No racism, bullying or harassment will be tolerated
  • Comments are subject to the page moderation policy >

Racism is an issue that can no longer be ignored ─ not by organizations, leaders, or the people who live in our community.

We recognize the existence of systemic inequalities and structural racism, both in our country and our community, and this issue demands our engagement and attention.

We are committed to fighting against racism and working toward an equitable and inclusive city.

We invite every member of our community to join us in this work. Share your personal experiences with racism, offer ideas about what the City can do to address racism in our community, or sign up to speak at a future in-person or remote listening session using the engagement tabs below.

Page Ground Rules:

  • There are no bad questions or ideas here
  • No racism, bullying or harassment will be tolerated
  • Comments are subject to the page moderation policy >
  • Local Mayors Send Letter to Public Health Officials Calling Systemic Racism a Public Health Crisis

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    6 days ago

    On July 23, 2020, the mayors of Vancouver, Camas, Washougal, La Center and Ridgefield sent a letter to the Clark County Board of Health and Washington State Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman calling systemic racism a public health crisis and asking them to use their expertise and resources to acknowledge the crisis, identify root causes, and suggest policy solutions collaboratively.

    Read the letter>

  • City Council Statement Regarding Racial Equity & Racial Justice

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    27 days ago

    The City Council of the City of Vancouver, Washington, acknowledges the existence of systemic racism and societal inequalities, both in our country and our community, and these issues demand our attention and action.

    We have listened and learned in our listening sessions and we have a greater appreciation for how systemic racism is affecting members of our community. As a result, we will increase our commitment to taking pro-active steps to address its many manifestations in our community.

    Together with our community partners, we will work on public health and prosperity inequities that have negatively impacted our community. These include low educational attainment, high rates of unemployment, food insecurity, insufficient access to housing and home ownership, high incidence of chronic health conditions and inadequate access to health care.

    The City of Vancouver is not just where we work, but as your City Council, it is also our home. As your public servants, we will bring about change for the better. We will not just acknowledge inequity but will actively focus on equity and justice in our institution, policies, and programs.

    We are committed to continuing our work to make our community and our City government places where all are treated with respect, feel safe, and are heard. We value inclusion, mutual knowledge and respect for diversity. We oppose racism and oppression in our City.

    We will continue to build an equitable and inclusive culture and fight racism throughout our community.

    Signed statement >

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  • Southwest Washington LULAC/City of Vancouver Listening Session

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    about 1 month ago

    On Thursday, June 26, City of Vancouver leadership participated in a listening session with the Southwest Washington Chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

    This listening session can be watched by visiting this link: https://youtu.be/CCYthf7NfmY

  • Racial Justice Listening Session Notes: June 19, 2020 (Afternoon Session)

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    about 1 month ago

    City of Vancouver Racial Justice Listening Session with Southwest Washington Communities United for Change - Noble Foundation

    June 19, 2020, 2-4 p.m.

    The City of Vancouver held a community forum via webinar for the City to listen and learn about race, racism and racial justice issues with members of Southwest Washington Communities United for Change (SWCUC) and the Noble Foundation. The following summary reflects high-level notes from the participant comments. A representative of the Noble Foundation participated and approximately 10 members of the SWCUC joined the webinar. (Note: there may have been an additional participant I heard in the SWCUC room during introductions, I was not sure). In addition to the notes, observations and recommendations are offered for any future City listening sessions.

    SWCUC comment highlights:


    Participants represented a mix of non-profit leaders, emerging youth leaders, as well as engaged SWCUC members who represented other roles within the community. Other roles included positions within the following organizations:

    • WSU Vancouver
    • Noble Foundation

    SWCUC has worked with multiple organizations, such as the Hough Foundation, to listen and capture the experiences of the BIPOC community.

    • Approximately 20 community conversations have been held to date.
    • Received responses from about 800 community members in Clark and Cowlitz County.
    • Comments were summarized into a document and distributed to City leadership.

    SWCUC stated historically there has not been a conversation between Black community members and City leadership where the community led the facilitation. Their hope was to start to begin relationship-building, to center the perspectives of their community, and bring their requests to the forefront of the conversation.

    Requests by SWCUC

    Specific requests from SWCUC were stated in the meeting. These requests included and were further detailed in an email to the City:

    • Legitimize racism as a public health concern.
    • Defund local police and divest funds into non-police forms of public safety.
    • Demilitarize police by removing equipment such as flash bangs and tear gas.
    • Create an independent citizen review board and add power to community voices.
    • Remove policies that permit excessive use of force.
    • Retrain all law enforcement practices with materials reviewed by POC.
    • Police unions should commit to condemn illegal behavior by officers.
    • Reinvest in communities of color through allocating funds to culturally specific programs, safer spaces, community-based Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training, arts and culture, early education, etc.
    • Many directed questions to the City about actions that the City has taken to address issues such as the following:
      • In general, answering the needs of communities of color and allocating city funding to address them.
      • Recruiting police outside of the area, rather than those who understand the climate and conditions of the community.
      • Responding to the specific demands by SWCUC.
    • There was interest in finding out the percentage of funds allocated to POC, specifically Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and if they were provided to non-profits that are led by POC.
      • The Noble Foundation noted they were pleased to receive CDBG funding to begin community health worker programs and the first multi-cultural center in Vancouver.
    • During the discussion, participants made several requests for the City to commit to the following. A member commented that they would like to see action to demonstrate that Carlos Hunter’s life was not taken in vain. Requests included:
      • Seek cuts and adjust the VPD budget in response to the demands of the SWCUC.
      • Reallocate police funding to first responders that are not armed and have community trust.
      • Take actions to rebuild trust with law enforcement and the Black community, so people are not afraid to call the police.
      • Make changes to reduce public health impacts to POC.
      • Increase diversity among teaching staff.
      • Increase diversity of City Council.
      • Address lack of affordable housing.
      • Monthly meetings with the Black community, with a seat at the table.
      • Creating an oversight committee that would have hiring and firing power for the police chief, an ability to subpoena the police department, and a role in collective bargaining between the City and police union.
        • The City shared that union contracts can have a duration of 3-4 years and noted that the police contract was just approved.
        • In response, it was suggested that it would help to have commitments on the record of how the next negotiation would be handled.
    • In response to the City sharing information about the decision-making process to address these requests, a member commented that they were confused about where authority and power lies. They stated that if City leadership and the City of Vancouver is invested and fully committed to changing systems, these barriers need to change or be taken down. They added that they did not feel individual people were the issue, but the entire system needed to be reformed for POC not only to be at the table, but to have decision-making power.

    City budget and defunding the police

    Concern about the most recent City $1.6 billion budget that was adopted and included heavy investment in policing, fire, police, and fire pensions. Specific issues included:

    • In comparison to the $65 million for policing and $46 million for the fire department, affordable housing was allocated just $6 million.
    • Lack of funding for immigrant and refugee affairs, education and early learning, arts and culture, civil rights, and culturally specific services and human services.
    • SWCUC requested to receive notifications about when discussions about the future biennial budget are scheduled so they can be part of that dialog.
    • The City committed to send initial information by early the week of June 22.
    • Interest in investing policing funding into community initiatives and programming led by the community and non-profits. There is currently not a specific outline for a plan, but the community would need to be invested in building it. Interest was also expressed in investing in prevention that would save dollars, rather than regulation.
    • A concern was shared about comments at a NAACP event and how it reflected a lack of understanding of community needs. The understanding was that a mural project, at a significant expense of approximately $500,000, was proposed or underway by the City.
      • The City was unaware of this and didn’t believe this type of project would have been approved at that expense but committed to look into it.

    Policing concerns and public safety recommendations

    • A member said although there is a national context that began the conversations over the last seven months in Vancouver, four community members have been lost to police violence. Two were experiencing mental illness and two were POC.
    • In general, concerns were expressed about corruption, mistreatment, and lack of accountability for the police.
    • Someone observed that there are several cities that have great policing policies, but they are not following them because of union protections, and the community is unable to hold the police accountable.
    • A participant described his experience with police officers and that it was much more positive back in the 1960s when he lived in Detroit. He felt it was because the police knew and respected the neighborhood and there was community trust in the officers, whereas in Vancouver his sons and nephews have all been targeted by the police department.
    • Concern that the traditional structure of top-down policies and services has proven not to work and what is needed to build new forms of public safety is to lean heavily on community restorative justice practices.
    • As an example of what a new form of public safety could look like, a member said instead of a police officer pulling someone over for a burned out headlight, someone from the community would issue a 24-hour notice to fix it and provide support in getting it fixed.

    Experiences with individual and systemic racism

    • SWCUC shared their appreciation for members to share their thoughts, especially in recognition of the current climate, involvement in the protests, and the emotional labor demands on POC. They said there was a gap in the understanding and acknowledgement that as community members who do not sit in leadership positions, it was not their job to be consistently expending labor for free and reliving trauma, when there is national outcry. They asked for acknowledgement that this has been the norm and it has not resulted in positive outcomes.
    • Participants commented on the contributions of Black people to the Vancouver community and to nation, and how they have made great accomplishments in many wlaks of life. In response, they wanted City leaders to think about funds, tools, and strategies that demonstrated their appreciation for these contributions.
    • Many shared frustration and sadness at individual and systemic experiences of racism and having the same conversations without seeing changes. Specific examples shared included:
      • People who had been jailed or falsely accused.
      • Lack of responsiveness from the City.
      • An auto accident caused by a VPD officer, where VPD tried to cede responsibility and slander the victim’s personal character.
      • A need to not be alone in public due to safety concerns.
      • Family member killed by a police officer.
      • Racist perceptions that Black people break laws and are unable to be controlled.
      • Apparent lack of concern by City Council during testimony against the naming of Lynch Park.
      • Black and brown people dying at higher rates in hospitals and mental health institutions.
      • Lack of POC representation among City leadership.
    • A member stated that in 2020 the City of Vancouver is becoming more of a melting pot, and it seems like a culture shock for everyone. VPD was not ready for this increased diversity.
    • Suggestion offered that the City should consider creating a DEI Office, similar to Atlanta, charged with addressing equal access to opportunities, criminal justice reform, homelessness, and LGBTQ issues.

    City commitments and next steps

    • Offered Noble Foundation and SWCUC a seat at the table to have long-term conversations about use of force, policing policies, VPD culture, police accountability measures.
    • Noble Foundation said they appreciated and valued the invitation. They would further consider the opportunity before providing a response and wanted to be sure that voices would be heard and actions could move forward.
    • Send PERF report on use of force after meeting.
    • Lexi and Sophie will coordinate to schedule future meetings.
  • Racial Justice Listening Session Notes: June 18, 2020

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    about 1 month ago

    City of Vancouver: Racial Justice Listening Session

    June 18, 2020, 5:30 p.m.


    City leadership shared perspective and setting the foundation for this meeting. Acknowledged that racism exist in this community and as public servants has a duty to act.

    Intention of meeting was to be a listening session. Participants are asked to keep an open mind and hearts, recognition that this is not a public meeting, and not recorded with the intention of keeping this a safe space for sharing. City leadership stated these sessions will be used to inform the City of Vancouver’s work in advancing social justice. Further explanation was given for the decision to not record as a way of protecting community members who shared. This is one of additionally scheduled community listening sessions. Information will be summarized in themes and shared with the broader community. Assurances where given protecting participants anonymity and a few ground rules were established.

    Participants were asked to listen respectfully and reminded to stick to the topic of racial injustice. Ground rules also reminded participants that racist or inflammatory comments would not be tolerated and if there were any comments that caused additional trauma to people of color they would be muted from the online meeting.

    Of the anticipated 36 participants, 11 did not respond when asked to speak. Statements where paraphrased and paired down to protect anonymity while maintaining the integrity of what was being expressed.

    Generalized statements:

    • Glad that there are more opportunities in the future for people of color to speak. Being not racist isn’t the same of being anti-racist. There is no in between space of racism and anti- racist. Calling for us as a (community) to be actively anti-racist. Wants our community to be welcoming. Extreme white privilege exists in this community, and some folks of color have had the ability to pass as white but are POC.

    • Diversity is all or our work, speaking from a White male perspective. Too many of us didn’t spend time with people who weren’t like them. Learned from being with people of color. When people don’t understand, he believed it came from a place of isolation. Was also an educator and believes in connecting with others. Also believes that we all can reach our full potential when these connections happen. Taught through multiple systems and race doesn’t stop potential but limits ability to be successful. We all need to work on this! Rethink policing and allow, space for a code of ethics, training, job descriptions should be reviewed by all us-the broader community. Call on citizens to help with this and absorb the burden. Community has the best solutions for community problems. People of color need to be heard. Organize an effective system for them to be heard. Reorganize law enforcement and reorganize gov’t structure to do the same.

    • Acknowledged one person doesn’t speak for the whole black community or Latin X community. Have had personal experiences of racism and feels it is important to amplify the voice of her community. All people are impacted by injustice. Behaviors that we participate in, cause many communities to be impacted by racism. BIPOC bias, exists in the world and there is even a physical response in the way that our bodies respond to prejudice. Individuals may be accused of acting out, when trying to press back in the entire belief system we are living in. Some people under hand support it. Bias’s threatens POC by telling us that a black person is not safe. Everyone is impacted by it. Putting people in power who are not keeping our community safe, including a for profit prison system, mental health spaces, education is part of the problem. The education community isn’t there. Black neighbors must go and find private education for children whose needs aren’t being met in schools. This is about inclusion and not division, experienced privileges and disparities. There is a hierarchy in race the closer to whiteness the safer we are native, and blacks have the biggest hurt. What is law enforcement responsibility, how can we get support for mental health services? Racism is real. It sucks. How are budget dollars being used, are we making investments in police officer training? We must have these conversations at our dinner tables and not put the burden on people of color, hold people of color in safety.

    • Offended by the look of the panel (lacking POC) If you want to talk about racism, why are we talking about what it is, everybody should know what it is. Offended by being called African American and feels it doesn’t go together with black. Black individuals don’t own anything without it being hijacked by other races. When protests started a lot of white people where rioting and blaming blacks. Does not want to be called a person of color. Does not identify with that. Sick and tired of combining issues and need to focus on the needs of Black’s. We are not starting out on the same playing field if you are not black you can’t understand, driving while black, or having had guns pulled on you by police. Speaking from experience wants to know …What you guys are going to do? Please don’t patronize us, no one has talked to him before and it appears that all you want to do is talk. The problems aren’t with black people the problem is with people who aren’t black. When asked to summarize, stated you can’t summarize trauma and asked what you are going to do for him.

    • When navigating this community wonder if there are any black people that live here. We are not a part of any marketing in this city, our families worked in the shipyards, we have a history here. When I am out in the community people assumed because I was black that I don’t have a husband, being told that my kids are well behaved. I have had a white man follow me in a way that felt unsafe, I called the police, and there was no follow up. As a mother I must ensure that my kids stay safe. I have had heated conversations with Evergreen Public Schools Administrators about my children’ negative experiences. We moved to Vancouver for economic reasons but the ignorance and refusal to recognize racism here makes me want to move to a more diverse community. This community has Davis Park with a confederate flag flying, 3 out of the last 5 people murdered by VPD where people of color, we wanted to name a park Lynch park, there is mass incarceration. Vancouver needs to create its image. We need to continue to have these discussions, we need real change. Have things that are near and dear to people hearts.

    • Part of the community for years. Appreciated the opportunity to speak to you about racial justice. We need systematic change and when will the change come? Participants family had to be in by sundown, inside the house, there where certain streets we couldn’t go to because they were unsafe, they were primarily white streets. She has experienced 5 generations of oppression and in public white people fear her. She now tells her children and grandchildren the same things her parents told her about being black and safe. She told to her children and now her grandchildren that they are at the mercy of the law. Acknowledgement of Vancouver’s first families and suggest reading the book sponsored by the NAACP. This social harm has been placed on the black community from 1600 to 2020.

    • Identify as Indian/Asian and Physician in this community has been asked “aren’t people so nice and friendly here” believes they are nice to the affluent. This community racially profiles POC and puts them in areas that are not as well funded or resourced. Segregation continues by force by keeping lots of police in their communities. We need police to improve the quality of life in communities. POC that came from influence, lucked out. Poor communities’ resources are lacking, defund the police, take that money and demand certain things in our communities, stop school to prison pipeline, invest in mental health workers and social workers. This will help the community understand better and assist them in being a better part of society. Stop segregating. Demand that the federal gov’t provides a full investigation into police brutality. Students in school’s have police instead of counselors or social workers there should be more mental health workers in school. We should demand reparations for police brutality, demand re-trials for people of color, how many are in jails for crimes that they did not commit? They should have a re-trial. We should abolish kid jails and get rid of mandatory sentencing.

    • Was nervous about moving here. Went to the Clark County fair and saw plenty of confederate flags and Neo Nazi propaganda. Saw Neo-Nazi propaganda /posters posted in his community and took them down, wondered why community members or law enforcement or city workers had not removed them. His partner was worried about him so they bought a small dog so that he could take with him when walking in the community so that he wouldn’t appear intimidating as a big black man. Worries that people aren’t aware of the, coded signals and language, of white supremacists but has seen it on bumper stickers and that scares him. Patriot prayer, proud boys, are deeply infiltrated into the Clark County Sheriff dept. Study symbols to remain safe. We don’t lose sight of this social discourse and black lives killed. People don’t deserve a death sentence for being black.

    • Grateful for the city of Vancouver working to bring change. Lived here for 10 years, is an educated Christian black woman and a therapist. Had to work in PDX due to racism. I feel like I have seen some changes. Work as a therapist here and an associate pastor. We can all do better. Get rid of stigma, and bias’s advocate for kids at school, they say they stay out of the way. More community involvement.

    • Apologized, if anyone that was a POC was wait listed. Identified as White male. Stated that the public system never taught slavery, Jim crow, voter suppression, that marginalized or disenfranchised people of color. Vancouver was is home to 2 race hate group white supremacist

    • White Lives matters, and people waiving confederate flags. VPS disciplines kids of color at a higher rate than black kids. VPS killed 3 people 2 of color in the past year, and one was still an EPS student. City of Vancouver has a 12 billion budget and 227 sworn staff, only 14 fte in community policing and only 1 position dedicated to homelessness. What are the budget priorities? What are you doing to address hate crimes? And Neo/Nazi gangs? Personally, reviewed policies, many seem to be aligned with national policy. What is the cultural impression of what is happening in the community? Police officers are displaying in your advertising material wearing a blue lives matter flag on their uniform while shaking hands with the VPD police chief. The thin blue line flag is opposed to racial justice.

    • Thanks for the meeting. How many meetings have you had in the past? I feel like this isn’t the last time that being a person of color comes with harm, and we act as if nothing has ever happened before. Was walking in his community and saw a police officer who just sat and watched him. Believes they were called on him. Feels fear in this community as a Black man. Neighbors are nice but it is a façade. Joined the Next-Door app and sees many racist comments. Why are you taking action now? What are we going to be in the future? I hope this isn’t just a box to check. How will you hold police officers accountable for their actions? These meetings should be held in the evening so that people who work can participate.There needs to be transparency in data collection. Stands with humanity and what is right.

    • Was quite moved by participants stories. Fixing institutionalized racism is not the problem of people of color. It will never get fixed until white people step up to fix it. Police violence led to this. We have room for improvement. Police brutalize because they can get away with it, the taxpayers are responsible for it. Police need to pay for their own malpractice. Doctors and atty’s are required to obtain malpractice insurance, it should be the same for police officers. Once they reach the maximum claim liability, they become uninsurable and can no longer work. That way their malpractice isn’t on the backs of taxpayers. There is nothing scarier than not being able to be insured. If individual officers are held individually responsible for what they do this could de-politicize police. It would prevent the protection of their bad apples above public safety and police unions can help to pay for it. This suggestion may call for radical change, but we might be able to get to innovative solutions in even when we are not in a hot spot.

    • Caucasian woman daughter of immigrants. Mother of 4 black sons. I want to speak from my heart. My children experienced racism in schools, in local parks, and I have lacked community. I was isolated in a lot of ways. My son was a teen driver and was pulled over, he pulled into the parking lot of my job even though I wasn’t there, he felt he needed protection in case something went wrong, maybe one of my colleagues would see and protect him. He didn’t tell me initially about it because he knows I am passionate. Police asked to search his car and asked if he had marijuana, they told him if he admitted it, they would just give him a ticket but if they found it, they would be arresting him. My son had nothing in the car. It doesn’t matter, the infraction should be the same regardless of outcome. My husband was pulled over, with one of my sons and as my son was looking in his wallet for ins. My black husband was asked if he was the legal guardian. They saw my blonde son and assumed it wasn’t his father.They approached my blonde son in a more empathetic way then my other son. My son’s car once caught on fire and he was afraid to call for help based on how he wat previously treated by police. He felt real fear. Representation matters, my children seeing people like them matter. The appointment of Clarissa Hightower to EPS as a Director of Equity is a huge step. I will help the district move forward. It is important that the city of Vancouver and the Vancouver police do the same thing. It starts with listening. I am willing to volunteer my time to help move this forward.

    • Have lived for 65 years and lived through segregation, wants to see actions not words. Has been through similar processes before and feel that we really need to see change. Does not want this to look like we are just going through the motions.

    • Moved to Vancouver 5 years ago with a one-year old son. Child is in VPS, and lucky enough to have a black principal. The black community is disconnected here, there are no community events that celebrate being black here. What does the city do for Black History month? How do they celebrate and honor Juneteenth? Where and how are the City of Vancouver officials showing up for activism?

    • Lived in Vancouver for close to 40 years kids are students in VPS, lived a pretty low-income life and a child of an openly gay mother. Experienced bias and hatred because her mom was openly gay. Knows she can’t fully understand what black and brown community are experiencing but knows that this community can demonstrate hate.

    • Has been a minority in this community have experienced a specific amount of racial targeting. Someone tried to run her family off the road. When she called 911 the dispatcher stopped her and asked her what she did to provoke someone to run them off the road. When she said she was Korean they cut her off and said well what happened, she feels that (911) operators need training as well. When she expressed to law enforcement that it was racial, they dismissed her and said, “well they had Oregon plates and wasn’t from here”. This community is very white and hard for this community to recognize that racism is here. Some people stop reporting when their concerns get dismissed. I want to be proud of the community that I live in and I am not proud of it right now.

    • There is not enough investment in police working with PAL, or boys and girls club. There is a significant Pacific Islander community here and VPD shot and killed Joseph a 16-year-old student who was having a mental health breakdown. They did not call for back up and are fortunate that there was no rioting in the streets after that killing. The fact is we must have a safe space for people of color. I can speak to this as a white person, I had a gun pulled on me for talking on my cell phone while driving. We give them guns or dogs. The guy who killed Joseph is still employed with VPS but is now on the k-9 unit. On your materials Police is mention 117 times and social service is only mentioned twice. People who work for the force and want to make changes are treated like 3rd party citizens. We fear the police, what happens when they are having a bad day? This forum needs to be open to the community.

    • Has lived in Vancouver for 30 years wants folks to know that the NAACP has a legal redress committee. It is a volunteer committee that investigates complaints and refers folks to organizations that support civil rights complaints. Feels that the information shared today is deeply troubling. Clark County and the City of Vancouver has it share of issues. Would like information sent to participants regarding the NAACP legal redress committee if they need help in filing a complaint. The goal is to make sure people are given the opportunity to be heard. We want to make sure that we give the opportunity for people to be heard. Some of the changes they would like to see are more African Americans in leadership positions. Increased supports for AA in Employment, housing, and procurement of gov’t contracts. The city needs to look inward AA only make up 3% of their work force. Yet are way overrepresented in policing. Pass on affordable housing funds to people of color, overrepresented in ability to obtain housing and underrepresented in housing placement and solutions. Many concerns with unethical policing. Taxpayers should not be paying for police officers to wear their political ideology in the form of Blue lives matter paraphernalia.

    • Felt she had to conform as Latina, worried that the Proud boys or KKK would destroy her. Doesn’t understand why the same level of policing with the impromptu car show or Patriot boys, spewing hate speech doesn’t match the same level of policing for peaceful Black Lives Matter marches. High racial injustices. We need to take a stand. The mayor needs to use her voice.

    Specific Calls to Action from Participants:

    • Reallocate police funds to social services
    • Police have Body Cams and Dash Cams
    • Police pay for their own liabilities
    • Police are self-insured and need insurance to be employed
    • Remove all Blue Lives Matter from any Uniform, Vehicle or Spaces that tax dollars are funding
    • Diversity/Hire more African Americans in leadership and through out the City of Vancouver’s
    • Increase affordable housing for African Americans
    • Show next steps and actions/ no more talking or community groups
    • Make community groups public
    • Increase the number of African American contractors and Bid opportunities with the city.
    • Create a City Equity Position like EPS
    • Acknowledge people of color in this community and their History
    • Read First Families book
    • Read Joy Degury- Post Traumatic Slave Dis-order book
    • Clear pro-active plan for law enforcement to abolish hate groups.
    • Higher level of policing for white nationalist groups and less policing for Peaceful Black protesters
    • Celebrate Juneteenth as a holiday.
    • Have African American Cultural Events and Celebrations/concerts/festivals
    • Support Black and Brown Businesses
    • Demand police reparations where people have been hurt
    • Volunteer with POC organization
    • Take an African American person out for a meal to learn more and you pay
    • Your website should have African American people on it, the city advertising should show Black people live in this community.
    • Practice community policing and police officers should have a positive presence in neighborhoods.
    • Bring back bicycle policing
    • Build authentic relationships in communities.
    • Stop over policing poorer community.
    • More training in mental health and working with minority communities for police
    • Stop profiling including children in hoodies.
    • DEI Training for police, city leadership, and broader community
    • Create an alternative to policing.
    • Create places for black people to connect.
    • Ensure there is Diversity in leadership
    • Police Accountability and Oversight, increased transparency and outside investigations when someone is killed or harmed.
    • Get rid of cops who have killed someone.
    • Acknowledge the Thin blue lines and allegiance with white nationalist groups and put an end to it.
    • Have Independent investigative team. Ensure they have people who are the most impacted participating them, People of color…unhoused individuals.
    • Look inward, who are you reaching out to? Go out to churches, Urban League, go into neighborhood a community to recruit people.
    • Remove onerous, background checks or processes that limit participation in oversight committees.
    • More accountability with proud boys, and law enforcement lack of enforcement with white hate groups.It appears that there is no police interest when white people congregate. Seems to be when Caucasian males are congregating ie. 300 people with marching without a single presence of law enforcement when it is white men some with guns.
    • Increase Infrastructure, sidewalks, digital divide, access, to the broader community.Internet should be available to all who want it even if they can’t afford it.
    • Elected officials need to show up for activism
    • Police need to increase positive relationships with Black and Brown youth
    • Equity Training for (911) dispatchers
    • Police should go to schools and build relationships with kids not police them, hand out stickers, talk about why kids matter.
    • Ban confederate flags, remove confederate monuments, taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for symbols that mock or marginalize their existence. Or only celebrate white symbolism
    • Increased black and brown engagement and leadership in the CREDC.
    • Media-Columbian practices erasure, African Americans are rarely discussed in interviews and have no presence in local media.
    • The city has power to maintain hiring that is equitable in our city and beyond.
    • Increased resources into behavioral health.
    • Transparency in the police complaint process and action when complaints happen
    • Affirming black lives matter from the police
    • Police department should reflect the community it serves
    • Timelines for change should be shared with community
    • Change Use of force policies
    • Eight Can’t Wait
    • Vancouver Public School Board should replace their empty Board Seat with a black woman or black man
  • Racial Justice Listening Session Notes: June 17, 2020

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    about 1 month ago

    The City of Vancouver held a community forum via webinar for the City to listen and learn about race, racism and racial justice issues. The following represent high-level notes from the public comments. A total of 11 community members provided comments. An additional 6 were signed on to the meeting, but choose not to speak.

    Public comment highlights

    • Overall, most participants expressed appreciation to the City for providing the opportunity to speak about this topic.

    • All but two speakers indicated they lived in Vancouver. One speaker lived outside of Vancouver, but within Clark County. Another speaker did not identify their city of residence.

    • Three speakers self-identified as people of color. Two were members of groups affiliated with the local Latino community.

    • Desire for more input from Vancouver citizens into all aspects of Vancouver Police Department (VPD) for policing to become more democratic and equitable, including specific suggestions related to citizen committees. However, one speaker stated they were skeptical about the need for creating another committee. Ideas offered included:
      • Support for creating a Task Force focused on policing to increase transparency and accountability.
      • Suggestion to establish a citizen review board with sworn staff and community members to review officer-involved shootings and other issues.
      • Concern about lack of awareness of the existing Chief’s Advisory Diversity Team and the need to open it up more for vulnerable populations.
      • Recommendation to create a citizen advisory board through Crime Stoppers to create a link between residents and law enforcement and to look at other models such as the Safe Communities Task Force.
      • Committee should have actionable, meaningful work in order to get qualified people to apply.

    • Many emphasized the importance of going beyond conversation to change policy and take measurable actions to address inequity.
      • The intent of police is to protect people, and City leaders should admit police are not fulfilling this purpose and that policy needs to change.
      • City leaders should reflect on who they are, learn how policies affect vulnerable communities, and take steps to remedy inequities even if it has political consequences.
      • Racial justice has been a topic for too long without resulting in change. Council should take immediate action after community engagement activities and learning the results of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) report.
      • A speaker commented that challenges with the Police Guild should not be a reason for not taking action.

    • Concern that there is a lack of accountability for police officers, with the following specific examples provided:
      • A speaker felt that the current system to file a complaint against Vancouver police offers is not democratic and transparent.
      • When Mr. Abbe was killed by a VPD officer, the case was given to the Clark County Sheriff for review and he sent it out of county for consideration, and the speaker was not aware when the review was completed.
      • Police Guilds should serve to protect the professionalism of the organization, rather than individual officers involved in misconduct.

    • Several speakers commented about the prevalence of white supremacist groups in the Vancouver area and the danger presented to community members, including at recent local protests. One of the speakers told the story of a time they were driven off the road by someone in a truck that had a confederate flag bumper sticker on the back.
    • Acknowledgement that police face many issues as a result of societal challenges such as poverty and mental health. To address needs such as homelessness and mental health, suggestions included:
      • Creating a crisis intervention team to respond to mental health crises and domestic violence calls.
      • Hiring social workers or trained professionals to create a community safety department and respond to crises, similar to Albuquerque.

    • A few expressed they felt fearful of police and acknowledged the prevalence of fear in society in general. One speaker expressed that they did not find the police applied their special training while interacting with them as a traumatized victim and they were scared to make a public records request to see VPD’s response to a Professional Standards Section complaint.

    • City leaders should acknowledge and state that racism is a public health concern.
      • A speaker noted that cities like Denver and Indianapolis have already taken this step.

    • Some recommended investing in anti-bias and racial equity training for city staff, leaders and police.

    • One individual commented that they felt the issue was about the contrast between the rich and poor in Vancouver, but acknowledged racism was an issue in Seattle. They suggested reviewing the recommendations made in the 10-year plan to dismantle poverty in Washington state.

    • A few speakers supported implementing a body-worn camera program for VPD to record interactions and provide review and transparency.

    • One speaker reflected on how her experience with police as a child was more positive and it was because the police were more entwined with the community. Programs such as D.A.R.E. were effective at getting to know community members by name.

    • City leadership should go out and solicit opinions from individuals and organizations involved in racial justice already, such as education associations.
      • One speaker expressed frustration that people of color have been trying to educate for years and there was a lack of communication by the City to seek out feedback directly.

    • Concern was expressed about police interactions with people with disabilities, especially those who are non-verbal and with invisible disabilities, such as autism. These individuals with disabilities may not be able to respond to police commands and be in danger if police respond in an aggressive way. Training is needed for officers to teach them how to respond in these type of interactions.

    • One speaker, shared her personal experiences of racism as a Black woman, the impact and harm it caused, and expressed the need for more caring, understanding and positive interactions and conversation. Her young daughter joined and read a poem.

    • A recommendation was offered to rebuild public safety from the ground up, with the following comments:
      • Before change is possible, leaders should have humility, confront what needs to change, and acknowledge the anguish faced by those impacted by racism.
      • Consider all ideas and give them a fair hearing.
      • Hard work is required to achieve a vision for VPD where police officers are trusted, the community believes they do their work the right way, and officers can wear the badge with pride.
  • Statement by VPD Chief McElvain regarding community support event.

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    about 1 month ago
    Press Release Date:

    Thursday, June 25, 2020

    Vancouver, Wash. – On Wednesday, June 24th members of our community visited the East and West precincts to show support by bringing by signs, posters and thank you cards. These were hung outside on the buildings of both precincts and our staff were there to gratefully receive them. What followed has drawn much criticism, directed primarily at me, and I want to clarify what actually occurred, especially in light of an online article that is circulating that has many inaccuracies. The article states that I “ordered everything that was put up by our families and community to be taken down because it was divisive.” This is blatantly untrue. Let me be clear, I said nothing to anyone ordering items to be removed, and I do not believe that community members bringing posters and cards to our personnel or precincts is divisive, quite the opposite, it is much appreciated. I was not aware that someone took the initiative to remove the items of appreciation until later, and was surprised to learn that the removal was attributed to me.

    What is true is we find ourselves in the middle of the recent public discourse regarding the "Thin Blue Line" symbol, which is viewed as divisive and fearful by many in our community. Although I appreciate those who embrace the “Thin Blue Line” for all its honorable intentions, today, it has disrupted trust in policing for some members of our community. As law enforcement professionals, we must always put at the forefront assurance to the community that our buildings feel safe for anyone that enters and that our officers are here to serve everyone equally and without bias.

    Those of us in the vocation of Law Enforcement have a long held belief that the “Thin Blue Line” symbol, whether stand alone or embedded on the US Flag, represented solidarity and professional pride within a dangerous, difficult profession and symbolizes a solemn tribute to fallen police officers. Unfortunately, others have misappropriated this symbol to perpetuate racism and division from our community. It is disheartening to know this symbol has been "co-opted" by certain groups and individuals to propagate hate. Underrepresented communities are associating this symbol with oppression and hate and therefore, I did make the decision to direct VPD staff that no “Thin Blue Line” symbol or icons will be allowed to be worn by employees, or displayed in or on City of Vancouver property (buildings, uniforms, vehicles).This had nothing to do with the yesterday’s community appreciation event yet it is being inaccurately tied to this directive.

    I want to start by clarifying what actually occurred yesterday, and assure everyone that none of the posters or cards from yesterday’s support event were ‘ripped down’, everything was brought inside and is intact. I also want to explain why the posters and cards were removed after the event concluded, and emphasize how much I truly appreciate the community bringing notes and posters of thanks especially during this time when police officers feel underappreciated. We receive these types of cards, posters and notes frequently and our staff greatly appreciate them. However, we must always be cognizant of how long notes and posters hang on the exterior of our buildings, regardless of the lobby closures which are currently still in place. Notes and cards can get destroyed by weather, blow off the walls and create other issues for our neighbors so we must balance how long these memorials of thanks stay outside. This has been our practice for many years and the same thing occurred yesterday. The group took photos, gathered with officers and after the event concluded, the materials were taken down and brought inside. We also make it a practice to take photos of notes and posters, whether they are left outside or delivered to our staff, and post them on our social media for others to see and share indefinitely.

    In an effort to mend any hurt feelings which yesterday’s removal unintentionally caused, we will be displaying the notes and letters, minus any “thin blue line” items, in our East and West precinct lobbies, which are scheduled to re-open to the public on Monday, June 29.

    I truly appreciate the community’s support and understanding, not just in times of turbulence, but all the time. Moreover, I appreciate the opportunity to clarify the facts and provide context to this situation.

  • Vancouver Police Department Receives Use of Force Report

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    about 1 month ago

    In early 2019, officers from the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) were involved in four officer-involved shootings in early 2019. The unusual number of incidents within a short timeframe drew significant public attention, community concerns and questions regarding use of force by the VPD.

    In June 2019, the City of Vancouver commissioned the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to perform a review of VPD's policies, training, documentation and data on use of force and officer-involved shooting incidents. This report is now complete and available to the public.

    The PERF report includes a comprehensive set of 84 recommendations that will serve as a road map to reform the VPD's culture, policies and practices around use of force. Of the 84 recommendations, ten were identified for immediate action:

    1. Implement the Critical Decision-Making Model (CDM) throughout the agency
    2. Prohibit any type of neck restraint
    3. Prohibit shooting at or from a moving vehicle
    4. Restrict the use of canines to serious criminal offenses
    5. Implement ICAT (Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics) training agency-wide
    6. Ensure that sergeants respond immediately to difficult situations, such as calls involving persons with mental illness, in which a use of force might be necessary or when a well-managed response might result in compliance without use of force.
    7. Train and require lieutenants conducting reviews of critical incidents to consider the event in its entirety, looking for ways to improve communications, tactics, policy, training, and/or equipment.
    8. Ensure use-of-force reports be reviewed by each level of command up to the assistant chief level.
    9. Share information on the VPD website about the department's use of force.
    10. Meet with community to discuss plans to implement recommendations

    "Cities all across America are hearing an unprecedented call for policing reform, including here in Vancouver,” said Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes. “We have listened to the concerns from our residents, recognize the need for change and are committed to serving the public safety needs of all of our communities in a more just and equitable manner.”

    In support of implementing the PERF recommendations, a Community Task Force on Policing will be convened to serve as a forum to provide community input and to ensure transparency and accountability in this work. The task force will also review and advise on establishing a body-worn camera program for VPD in time for Vancouver City Council to consider it as part of the 2021-2022 biennial budget this fall.

    The task force will include members representing:

    • Vancouver City Council
    • City Manager's Office
    • Office of the Chief of Police
    • Chief’s Diversity Advisory Team
    • communities of different racial backgrounds
    • communities affected by policing
    • mental health resources
    • labor organizations

    The City has already begun inviting community members and organizations to join the task force.

    "Implementation of the PERF recommendations will result in policing that can better serve the public safety needs of our community in a way that proactively counteracts the inequities that exist in policies and throughout the system as a whole," added Holmes. "We want to improve equity, accountability and transparency, promote higher standards, and increase public trust and confidence."

    "We appreciate the opportunity to work together with City Council and the community to make sure that we not only accomplish implementation of the PERF recommendations, but also continue to find ways to listen to and bring new voices and perspectives into our work to help us better meet the needs of all the communities we serve,” said Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain. “We are embarking on a new era of American policing, one that is more responsive to what all communities expect from their police department.”

    View the full report >

    More information on the VPD can be found at: