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City Struggles Forming Plan for Racial Justice, Mayor Suggests Waiting Until Next Year

On August 3rd, 2020, the City Council held its first meeting since mid-July. During the public comment, several residents called in making comments related to racial justice, police reform, and sharing their personal experiences living in Renton.

During the unfinished business, the Business Plan to Strengthen Its Stand Against Racism and In Support of Racial Equity along with its corresponding resolution were discussed. These were delayed from the July 13th meeting, as the community wanted to have input in the wording and perceived impacts. While the city put together a forum for business impacted by the Wells Ave project and street changes, they held no meetings with the public over racial justice and police reform and wording in the resolution. Private discussions with the Inclusion Task Force and select individuals were made, however.

This lack of effort has created an arena to fight over wording, and the suggestion by the Mayor that the issues more thoroughly be addressed next year at the City Retreat in January. Councilmember Ed Prince suggested they at least vote through the business plan today, which in the end they approved. The Inclusion Task Force had the final say on the language and “signed off” on it, some wording which was added were “gender identity & expression”, and creating an anti-racist approach in the city.

With the resolution passed, business plan altered, we can expect there will be some changes. So far, those changes only amount to words. Communities desire to see changes as small as inclusive artworks to changes as large as restructuring the budget and reforming police department practices. Residents have said they will continue putting on pressure until they see changes in actions and outcomes.

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