As Whatcom County moves forward with the beginning phases of their Public Health and Public Safety Initiative regarding behavioral health services, incarceration, and justice reform needs in Whatcom County — discussed in a September 19, 2019 post here on Noisy Waters Northwest — I thought it would be good for us to have some historical background and a list of materials related to the County’s progress in addressing critical life safety renovations at the existing downtown Whatcom County Jail.
Below is the email I sent to members of the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force today regarding that event:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com> Cc: Barry Buchanan <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2019, 01:57:18 PM PDT Subject: Regarding the 9/23/19 Whatcom County Justice Updates event and addressing issues related to trust
Dear Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force Members:
I recently watched the video of the Whatcom County Justice Updates event that was held on Monday, September 23, 2019. I wanted to address the issue of trust that was one of the focuses of the meeting.
On Monday night, September 23, 2019, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. Whatcom County will be holding the Whatcom County Justice Updates event in the Whatcom County Council Chambers, at 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225. Attendees will be given the opportunity to ask questions and talk with the presenters regarding the County’s recently released Public Health and Public Safety Initiative on which The Bellingham Herald reported in an August 11, 2019 article by Denver Pratt.
There have been some people in Whatcom County who have suggested that posters linked to the white supremacist group, Patriot Front, which were reportedly placed in Ferndale in late July, might just be a stunt or a false flag. However, there have been numerous news stories reporting on the distribution of similar white supremacist posters and literature having occurred in other cities across the country.
“Okay, I’ll just take a quick point of privilege just to say that we absolutely recognize we have the need for shelter, especially – we have it all year round – but especially in the winter months. The group I believe, that Council Member Lilliquist is referring to, is the Homeless Strategies Workgroup. Council Member Barry Buchanan from the County’s side of the street organized that group. Stakeholders, several of us, attend that every two weeks. We take that issue very seriously and we want to come to a resolution on providing safe shelter for our most vulnerable neighbors. So, we absolutely take it very seriously.” – Bellingham City Council Member Dan Hammill
Last night’s Bellingham City Council meeting provided a pretty good lesson in what white fragility does – and doesn’t – look like. To the majority of the Council Member’s credit that night, most of them did not seem to exhibit “discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice,” which is the definition of white fragility offered by Oxford’s Lexico dictionary. But a couple of them did.