[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written and submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff.]
At the September 18th Burien City Council meeting, councilmember Hugo Garcia explained to the council why he had concerns about a plan under consideration by the city to site a sanctioned homeless encampment near the Boulevard Park library.
In his testimony, he pointed out the hypocrisy of this plan since the original encampment was in downtown Burien next to the main Burien library. Many of the people who live and own businesses near the downtown library were in favor of displacing the residents of this encampment citing safety concerns and as well as concerns that the presence of the encampment might impact local businesses.
CM Garcia told the council that this kind of hypocrisy fits a pattern of White supremacy where Black and Brown communities suffer more when it comes to policy decisions that may negatively impact a community. Some examples of this include where to locate factories or industries that release toxins that affect local air and water quality, development plans that lead to some areas having better access to resources such as public transportation and healthy food options, siting of jails, or in this case, the siting of a homeless encampment.
I personally don’t think that a sanctioned homeless encampment automatically means negative things for a community, but clearly many people, including some on our council, think so, yet they are willing to site it in a less affluent community with majority Black and Brown residents. This is the point that CM Garcia was making.
At no point, did he call anyone on the council racist or a White supremacist. He was talking about a system in which policy decisions routinely advantage White communities and disadvantage Black and Brown communities.
However, in response to CM Garcia’s comments, CM Stephanie Mora called him a racist and tried to have him censured. When she was unable to get a second for her motion to censure, CM Mora went on KOMO news and wrote a letter to the editor to The B-Town Blog in what I believe to be an attempt to stir up public opposition to CM Garcia (which in today’s uber divided political landscape, often leads to threats and harassment of public officials).
With his comments that evening, CM Garcia was speaking up for people in our community who have less power and voice in decisions that affect them and for this he should be commended, not censured.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you have an opinion you’d like to share with our highly engaged local Readers? If so, please email your Letter to the Editor to [email protected] and, pending review and verification that you’re a real human being, we may publish it. Letter writers must provide an address and phone number (NOT for publication but for verification purposes). Read our full Letter to the Editor policy here.