City and County leaders host listening series on race and justice

Series intended to inform change and create public record of community voices

July 31, 2020 - by Janice Keller, Communications Director

En español: Líderes de la ciudad y del condado presentan una serie sobre raza y justicia

Bellingham and Whatcom County officials are hosting a listening series on race and justice, an opportunity for community members to share their experiences and their ideas for how leaders can make meaningful, effective changes.

Four sessions are scheduled for

All sessions will be held via Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions on in-person meetings. All sessions are open to the public, with options to log in via computer or smartphone or dial in via a telephone number. All meetings will be aired live on BTV and the City’s YouTube channel.

Simultaneous ASL interpretation provided for each meeting. Spanish and Punjabi interpretation available for those who wish to speak.​

​How to participate

Comment via Zoom

Anyone wishing to speak at any of the scheduled meetings may do so by joining at the following links:

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​August​997 6322 7294​123​
​August ​962 2738 1401​123
​August​977 0880 4687​123​

These links can be used before each meeting to pre-register or used during each meeting to register and immediately join the meeting. Full name not required for registration; you may use any identifier you wish. We only need a way to call upon you when it is your turn.

Comment or listen by telephone

Those who would like to comment or listen in by phone can do so using any of the following phone numbers:

  • (253) 215-8782
  • (346) 248-7799
  • (669) 900-6833
  • (301) 715-8592
  • (312) 626-6799
  • (929) 205-6099​
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​August 10997 6322 7294​123​
​August 15​962 2738 1401​123
​August 18977 0880 4687​123​

Watch or listen only

If you wish to watch or listen to any meetings but not speak, meetings will be aired live on BTV and on the City’s YouTube channel. (Comcast channels 10 and 321)

Remote locations

People without access to technology may participate at remote stations, equipped with technology to access the meetings and hosted by volunteers with social distancing in place, at the following locations:

YWCA Ballroom (August 15 & 18 sessions)
Lighthouse Mission Base Camp (August 15 & 18 sessions)
Firehouse Cafe Patio (August 18 session)
Holly Street Pedestrian Plaza (August 15 & 18 sessions)
Maritime Heritage Park (August 15 & 18 sessions)
Squalicum Creek Park (August 15 & 18 sessions)

Purpose of the listening series

“We intend this to be the beginning step in a continuum that includes joining communities nationwide in doing the hard work of identifying how we dismantle structural racism in our organizations and our community,” Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood, who helped initiate the series, said.

He said the purpose of the series is to provide the public with opportunities to share while following COVID-19 restrictions, to inform commitments to effective change, to create a public, historic record of people’s ideas and experiences, and to elevate the importance of these issues and ensure accountability for addressing them.

The series is sponsored by the City of Bellingham, Whatcom County, Lummi Nation and Western Washington University. While the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the Bellingham Police Department were originally listed as event sponsors, they are not participating formally in the virtual meeting space by request from and out of respect for community members. ​

​Mayor Fleetwood said government agency sponsors would like most to hear from people of color about their experiences with racial inequities and injustice in our community.

“We wish to hear from our neighbors whose lives have an element of fear and anxiety simply because of the color of their skin,” he said. “We are committed to listening, promoting awareness, facilitating dialogue, and taking actions that make the safety, dignity and humanity of all people our priority.”

Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu said community leaders are receiving many requests for action.

“We intend this listening series to be the first step in a process of understanding our community’s experiences with racism and injustice and taking steps to effectively address these issues,” he said. “It is the beginning of a dialogue that will result in necessary changes.”

Mayor Fleetwood has offered further clarification about organizations involved with the series. “In the haste and pressure that I perceived relating to announcing the listening series, I represented, based on my misunderstanding, that a couple groups had joined as ‘community partners’ and it was clarified, thereafter, that they had not joined as ‘community partners.’ I apologize for this. Despite the misstep, it has provided, not only even greater insight into the complexity of this work, but also underscored our ongoing commitment to the work itself and the need to work collaboratively and inclusively with the individuals and organizations who seek positive change.”

Media Contact

Janice Keller, Communications Director
City of Bellingham or (360) 778-8100
Jed Holmes, Community Outreach Facilitator
Whatcom County or (360) 778-5209

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