Interim Communications Program Manager
KIRKLAND, Wash. – A report culminating nearly two years of community engagement and policy analysis to bridge gaps in equity and inclusivity for People of Color, called the Welcoming Kirkland Initiative (WKI), has been completed and is available for review on the City of Kirkland website. The initiative was developed to address issues that were identified in a 2018 incident at a Menchie's in Totem Lake which highlighted concerns that People of Color in general, and Black people, in particular, have lived experiences of an unwelcoming and inequitable community in contrast to the City’s stated goal to be safe, inclusive and welcoming for all.
In response to the 2018 incident, the Kirkland Police Department immediately changed its protocol addressing “unwanted person” calls. The City also partnered with Leadership Eastside (LE) to reevaluate and make recommendations for policy and protocols, and to implement community learning about racism and equity. The WKI planning and workgroups included more than 20 diverse leaders, representing a variety of public needs including the Kirkland Assistant City Manager and Kirkland Police Chief. Community talks included topics such as Preparing to be Color Conscious and Color Brave, which brought nearly 100 attendees. The community talk series was cut short in March due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the WKI efforts began in 2019, the tragic killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota in May 2020 spurred protests, marches and rallies in Kirkland and nationwide, calling for an end to structural racism and affirming that Black lives matter. These events underscored the necessity of these efforts by the City of Kirkland.
In August of 2020, the City passed Resolution 5434, affirming that Black lives matter and committing to end systemic racism. The upcoming biennial budget includes approximately $5.6 million committed for initiatives related to this resolution.
“We’re extremely grateful for the effort, thoughtfulness, and dedication of all those involved in the Welcoming Kirkland Initiative,” said Councilmember Neal Black. “The City is committed to continuing the difficult but productive conversations about racism that are needed to create a Kirkland where Black community members feel safe and respected. WKI has helped foster the relationships and groundwork that will help us identify and implement solutions to racism in all its forms.”
For more information the City of Kirkland’s commitment to end systemic racism, the Welcoming Kirkland Initiative, or how to get involved, please visit www.kirklandwa.gov.