Experiences with systemic racism learn-in and vigil scheduled in MLT June 3

The Mountlake Terrace Anti-Racist Coalition (MLT ARC) in partnership with the Mountlake Terrace Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (MTEPTO) are holding a community educational event and candlelight vigil at 220th Street Southwest and 52nd Avenue West from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, June 3.

Organizers say it will provide a platform to “Hear from BIPOC students and families about their challenges with systemic racism and police in their school communities, with an open mic after for anyone who feels inspired to share. Supporters are encouraged to come prepared to not just listen, but leave with actionable steps to take and how to stay accountable.”

In addition to public speakers, there will be a board provided where BIPOC community members can leave messages to communicate their experiences and needs. Supportive allies will also be given a similar forum for leaving notes on what they are committed to doing in order to break down institutional racism and support BIPOC community members.

The evening will conclude with a vigil for those lost to police violence. There will also be supplies available for making signs and additional activities for kids such as topic-related coloring pages. Participants can design “Say Their Name Bags” that will hold battery-operated candles to be placed along the intersection.

Thursday’s scheduled speakers include Mountlake Terrace City Councilmember Steve Woodard, Mountlake Terrace Elementary School Principal Mary Williams, and a high school student from the Edmonds School District.

Angie Peters, an educator and parent leader with the MTEPTO, said that in addition to the speakers, those attending can share their stories or participate as they see fit and at their own comfort level.

“We recognize that our BIPOC community members carry more than their fair share of the burden of standing up to the structural inequities in this country,” Peters said, adding organizers “felt that it was our duty to create space, without expectation, for voices to be heard. Many of our BIPOC community members are exhausted from this never ending fight for equality and educating others about institutional racism and police brutality. If they are feeling energized and want to share their story on the night of the event, then we will ensure they have the space to do so.”

The most difficult part of organizing the event is “community members who are offended by our stance against police brutality and institutional racism,” Peters said. Organizers have also participated in “hard conversations about what makes our community ‘safe,’” she added. “Understanding that many of our BIPOC community members feel threatened by the institution that makes our white community members feel safe can be something that is hard to wrap your mind around.”

Organizers held an event on June 4, 2020 to show support for the national Black Lives Matter movement. It drew hundreds and helped spark further local conversations about fighting institutional racism. Peters noted that MLT ARC was created only a few days later and then the City of Mountlake Terrace’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Commission was initiated in August 2020.

“This year’s vigil, and the addition of the learn-in and speakers, is intended to be a way to ensure that the conversation does not get placed on a back burner,” she added.

Participants are asked to be mindful that children will be present and people are encouraged to wear masks and/or maintain proper social distancing.

— By Nathan Blackwell




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