Community Engagement for R-5434
The community engagement process for R-5434 began in June 2020 when the City Manager, Police Chief, and Assistant City Manager began holding weekly meetings with the Right To Breathe Committee for on-going policy discussions. The Right To Breathe (RTB) Committee consists of several notable Black leaders from the Eastside Race and Leadership Coalition that became its own organization. This group met over two dozen times between June 2020 and early 2021, and City leadership continues to regularly meet with the RTB Committee. The Right To Breathe Committee is also in conversation with the cities of Bellevue, Redmond, and Issaquah. In late December, the Right To Breathe Committee published a YouTube video sharing appreciation for the community. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 18, 2021, the Right To Breathe Committee issued City Progress Reports for the various Eastside cities with whom it is engaging in discussions. The status reports give an overview of the Right To Breathe Committee’s assessment of how safe that City is for Black people, organized around various policy areas. Kirkland’s Progress Report can be found online. These meetings continue to be helpful dialogues centered around the key policy priorities of the RTB Committee.
Throughout the summer of 2020, City staff had already begun planning for a regional Welcoming Week event in collaboration with staff from the cities of Bellevue, Issaquah, Redmond, and Sammamish and the organizations Eastside Refugee and Immigrant Coalition, Eastside For All, and Eastside Race and Leadership Coalition. Upon Council’s adoption of R-5434, staff explored ways to strategically link the City’s forthcoming community engagement for R-5434 with the event. Held on September 26, 2020, the virtual Eastside Race and Equity Summit attracted over 240 attendees from across the Eastside. The event highlighted several formal and informal Black-led and/or Black-centered groups on the Eastside who focus on racial equity. City staff reached out to those groups featured at the event to invite to participate in focus groups. These focus groups became the basis for staff’s community engagement process centered on Black people called for in R-5434.
Staff conducted a total of seven focus groups with Black-centered and/or Black-led groups between November 2020 and January 2021 and one focus group with a Latino group in February 2021. Below is a listing of the groups that staff met with for focus groups:
- Eastside Race and Leadership Coalition (ERLC)
- Black Policy Advisory Committee
- Movement of Advocacy for Youth
- Eastside Change Coalition (met twice)
- ERLC -organized student focus group
- Eastside Embrace
- Kirkland Promotores
Total attendance at the above eight meetings was approximately 52. During the focus groups, staff provided a general overview of the various elements within R-5434 and sought guidance from the group on which topics to discuss and prioritize. Additionally, the focus group methodology invited discussion among the participants on any topic that the group wanted.
Building off best practice research and community learning, staff provided honoraria to early action focus group participants to help decrease barriers to participation. This helped those that may need to obtain child care or incur other expenses in order to participate, while also acknowledging the time, energy, and effort in discussing structural racism with City staff, which often included sharing painful personal stories.
Throughout 2020 and into 2021, staff also attended numerous community group meetings, agency network meetings, and workshops held on topics related to R-5434. Although staff would sometimes be called upon to provide an overview or update on R-5434, the focus of staff attendance at these meetings was to listen and learn. Staff attended numerous meetings not necessary to include in this memo, but some key highlights include:
- Black Policy Advisory Committee meetings (eight meetings since June 2020)
- Eastside Race and Leadership Coalition meetings (five meetings since June 2020)
- Eastside Change Coalition: “BLM? Prove It” event on August 21, 2020
- Eastside4BlackLives: Online Panel on August 25, 2020
- Governing for Racial Equity & Inclusion (GREI): Quarterly meetings (Sept. 18 and Nov. 20, 2020)
- City of Redmond: Listening Session on November 6, 2020
- ACLU: “Transforming Police Culture” on December 8, 2020
- Esri: “Using Location Intelligence to Address the Impact of Racial Injustice on Health Equity” event on January 27, 2021
- King County Coalition Against Hate and Bias (KCAHB) in Conversation with Enrique Cerna on January 28, 2021
- Indivisible Kirkland meeting on February 6, 2021
Additionally, as the targeted stakeholder focus groups concluded in early February, the City hosted a virtual community conversation on racial justice that was facilitated by Chanin Kelly-Rae, the City’s consultant for an organizational equity gap assessment. Approximately 35 community members attended and provided general feedback about their experience with race and racism in Kirkland. This event marked the transition from the targeted stakeholder engagement centered on Black people articulated in R-5434 to broader community-wide engagement. As part of this broader engagement, staff published two online surveys for the Kirkland community to provide feedback on the specific elements of R-5434. Published on January 5, 2021, the first survey consists of comment boxes for each R-5434 element for respondents to provide feedback, and respondents do not need to comment on each item. The second survey, published on January 28, 2021, focused specifically on the content of the R-5434 dashboards.