The Kent City Council unanimously approved an anti-hate resolution that “reaffirms Kent’s commitment to be a safe, welcome, and equitable community for all, and encourages community members to report discrimination and hate-based crimes.”
Councilmember Brenda Fincher proposed the resolution, which the council approved at its Nov. 15 Operations and Public Safety Committee meeting. That unanimous approval sent the measure to the consent calendar on the Nov. 15 City Council meeting, where numerous items are approved without discussion because they are considered noncontroversial.
Fincher said a resolution against hate is needed for Kent to be a welcoming city.
“Some things are not acceptable in the city of Kent,” Fincher said at the committee meeting when she presented the resolution to the council. “I’m tired of the violence and hate and name calling. …People walk up in the street and yell names, and say things like ‘go back where you came from.’ That should not be acceptable.
“People think it’s OK, it’s not OK.”
Kent is majority Black, indigenous and people of color, and is the seventh most diverse community in the nation with more than 130 languages spoken in the local schools, according to the resolution. The city has a population of about 137,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“As public officials, it is the City Council’s duty to use its authority to foster a community free of fear, intimidation, and violence,” according to the resolution. “Moreover, while free speech is protected under the First Amendment, the City Council can speak out against hate speech as contrary to its community’s values.”
Fincher said people should not be hated because of their race, religion, disabilities or income.
“We stand for justice,” Fincher said. “We represent all people and all people shall be treated fairly and justly.”
Councilmembers Marli Larimer and Satwinder Kaur were the only other members to speak to the resolution. Council President Bill Boyce, Toni Troutner, Les Thomas and Zandria Michaud did not comment about the resolution.
“I want to thank Councilmember Fincher for bringing this forward,” Larmier said. “It’s important to take a stand. …there’s been an increase in hate crimes. It’s important and valid to make a strong statement that all forms of hate are not welcome here.”
Kaur also thanked Fincher for the resolution.
“I encourage the community to report any hate crimes,” Kaur said. “It’s important to know you are supported.”
The resolution encourages the public to report hate-based crimes to the Kent Police Department by calling 911 for emergencies or 253-852-2121 for nonemergencies.
The measure also wants residents to contact the Washington State Human Rights Commission if they observe or experience incidents of discrimination or harassment. The website is hum.wa.gov.
Section 1 of the resolution includes the following statement:
“The City Council of the City of Kent does here proclaim that hate, bigotry, and bias are not welcome in the City of Kent. The Council rejects all bias, harassment, discrimination, violence, and hate crimes based on race, ethnicity, place of origin or ancestry, physical ability, socio-economic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, or religion.
“The City Council is committed to promoting an inclusive community and urges those in our community to work together. Being a culturally rich City, the City Council does not tolerate, and hereby condemns, groups and individuals who promote hate, bigotry, violence, and intolerance.”
Fincher said an increase in the number of hate incidents led her to propose the resolution.
“We want people to know Kent is a welcoming city,” she said. “There is no place for hatred here and it should have no place anywhere.”