Joint proclamation denounces hate in Maple Valley

The proclamation was in response to acts of hateful graffiti

The city of Maple Valley and the Tahoma School District signed a proclamation in support of diversity, equality, inclusion and safety for all citizens and also denounces hate and intimidation. The signage of the proclamation corresponds with Gender and Ethnic Equality Month, celebrated in March.

The proclamation was announced during a joint meeting March 4.

The idea behind joining forces came in response to acts of graffiti that occurred last November.

Council does not take this or any other acts of discrimination lightly and according to Maple Valley Mayor Sean Kelly, the city took the first step in standing up for its community by hosting the first ever “For the Love of Cities” event in April 2018.

He said this proclamation is the second step in making citizens feel at home in the community.

“It’s very important that we make everybody feel welcome in our community. We are working extremely hard to do that,” Kelly said. “This is our home. We make everybody feel safe and welcome in our home.”

This is the first joint proclamation between the city and the district, according to Kelly. He said it’s the first one he’s ever signed with the district in the seven and half years he’s been on council.

Kevin Patterson, communications director at the Tahoma School District, said both the city and the district recognize their responsibility as community leaders to make it clear that the actions done by those who try to intimidate or threaten others will not be tolerated.

“Both the school district and city share core beliefs of equality, inclusion and safety for all. This proclamation affirms those beliefs and makes it clear that human rights are paramount,” Patterson said.

Kelly said the district and the city are working in partnership to include everybody in the Maple Valley to be community partners and community contributors with both organizations.

Alicia Busch, a member of a local group called “Stand Up” said in the district’s release, she commends the city and the district for taking a stand like this.

“I’m very proud. I’m proud of the city, proud of the school district and I’m proud of our community. It takes courage to take a stand, the city and the school district did just that,” Busch said in an email.”We as a community and as leaders within the community must take a stand to fight for each other’s humanity. We must use our power, our privilege and our voices to fight for communities who have been harmed by systems of power and privilege.”

Stand Up is a group whose goal is to stand up for marginalized communities, Busch said in a previous interview with the Reporter.

Another member of Stand Up, Kristiana Henderson, said it felt very validating and comforting to know that both the city and the district signed the proclamation.

“It means that we as a community, including but not limited to our elected officials, understand that we can stand for something more,” Henderson said in an email.

As far as community feedback goes, Kelly said he has heard nothing but positive things about this new proclamation.

Looking forward to next steps the council and district will make, Kelly said they are going to hold another “For the Love of Cities” event soon.

He said the details haven’t been set yet, but were discussed at the March 25 council meeting.

The city also holds a lot of other community events, which according to Kelly is a good way to make everyone feel welcome and included in the city.

“It’s important that we make our citizens know we want everybody to feel at home,” Kelly said. “We need to make sure that the ones that have been here for a lifetime still feel like they’re part of the community and then the new members that are coming into the community feel welcome. We’re trying to have more of these outreach type meetings and invite everybody.