The events of the past year have been extraordinary – the impacts of COVID and the continued rise and elevation of the Black Lives Matter movement are testing our resilience and cohesion as a nation and a people. Here at home, the impact on Community Roots Housing and our residents has been profound. COVID has taken its toll. Our residents and commercial tenants have been hit hard.
The impact of the other pandemic – racism – has also taken its toll, but the damage is measured against centuries, not weeks, and the lives lost through the ages are incalculable. During the unrest in Seattle in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, we, as an organization, made strong statements against police brutality, a brutality that was on vicious display and available for all to see. Many of our residents and staff members were directly impacted and traumatized by acts of police brutality. They demand that policing must change.
Community Roots staff members urged leadership to sign on to the movement to defund SPD and reallocate resources to community-led health and safety strategies. This was a request that we took seriously, and after thoughtful deliberation, including a listening session and discussion, the Community Roots Housing Board voted unanimously to support Decriminalize Seattle’s call to Defund the Police.
The Defund movement is driven by Black-led community organizations who are demanding this radical reform because police racism and brutality have gone on far, far too long. We believe that in this moment our role is not to lead the movement or define its terms. Our role is to stand with those who are most gravely impacted and offer our solemn support. As a prominent member of the affordable housing community, Community Roots Housing respectfully calls on other housing providers and those in our industry to join us and the hundreds of colleague organizations who have signed on to this unprecedented movement.
Christopher Persons, CEO
Shalimar Gonzalez, Board Chair