The Black Student Union’s Legacy Festival, held February 23rd, continued the organization’s tradition of encouraging collaboration and community for Seattle Central’s students of African descent. Featuring outreach organizations such as SOAR and Seattle Cares Mentoring Movement, the festival maintained a focus on coalition building between students at Seattle Central and the greater Seattle area. Jacob Washington, the BSU member who organized the festival, stated the event was an “Attempt to bring Seattle Central College back to the community, especially the underserved communities within Seattle.”
Key issues of concern include deescalation training and mental health education for Seattle area police, which is being addressed by Initiative 940. The initiative also redresses RCW 9A.16.040, the 1986 law stating police officers can only be prosecuted if malice or “evil intent” is proven after a deadly shooting. Of course, ballot measures will not change anything if Seattlites do not vote, so SOAR is working to improve voter registration rates to make for a more progressive voting base as, “the most liberal are the least likely to vote” according to their representative at the Legacy Festival.
The Legacy Festival also created a platform for cultural celebration, including performances by Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Leija Farr and local musicians, Marshall & Josh and Will Rideout. Gary Owens of the Seattle Chapter Black Panther Party gave a keynote speech. Local businesses including visual artists and Boon Boona Coffee, which sells traditional Ethiopian style coffee, were also featured.
Update: A compromise bill, HB 3003 passed March 12th, amending the standards for police responsibility in deadly shooting situations and requiring more officer education and deescalation training effective June 7th.