Gun violence and hate crimes are urgent and persistent challenges that rip at the fabric of the safe and just society that Americans deserve. Washington State has seen more than its share of both. This violence has come in the form of mass shootings, individual acts, and anonymous attempts at intimidation. Hate speech and gun violence have seeped into our political process with divisive language—and even threats of violence—dominating the airwaves.
That is why in October 2016, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility Foundation hosted a summit on the dangerous intersection of hate and gun violence.
The Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, which was the worst mass shooting in American history, was a clear example of the dire consequences of hate and gun violence. But Pulse is far from the only example: the shootings at Mother Emanuel in South Carolina, Planned Parenthood in Colorado, and the Jewish Federation in Seattle are all examples of what can happen when hate is fueled by a gun. And far too often, minority communities are victims of gun violence or the threat of gun violence that never makes headlines.
The Hate and Gun Violence summit followed an August 2016 panel discussion, which was co-hosted by the Greater Seattle Business Association. That discussion was an attempt to break through the myths and misconceptions that drive this violence. Through education, personal storytelling, and discussion, eight leading activists from impacted communities explored the causes and effects of hate and gun violence and offered solutions for change. The participants of that panel discussion were:
- Pamela Banks: President and CEO, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
- Dr. Ben Danielson: Medical Director, Odessa-Brown Children’s Clinic
- Sonja Basha: Organizer and Writer
- Rev. Carey Anderson: Senior Minister, First AME Church
- Monisha Harrell: Board Chair, Equal Rights Washington
- Danni Askini: Founder and Executive Director, Gender Justice League
- Treasure Mackley: Political and Organizing Director, Planned Parenthood Votes NW & HI
- Renée Hopkins: CEO, Alliance for Gun Responsibility
The hope was that this discussion would be the beginning – not the end – of a more productive community response to these issues. That commitment inspired the organization of a summit on hate and gun violence at the TAF Bethaday Community Learning Space, which convened local advocates, policymakers, and experts to discuss how Washington State can address this crisis.
Kayla Hicks, from the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence started the day with a keynote address about the intersection of hate and gun violence and the urgent need to disarm hate. Following the keynote was a panel discussion, “A home for everyone in the gun responsibility movement.” The panel was moderated by Danni Askini from the Gender Justice League and included:
- Kayla Hicks, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence
- Dominique Davis, 180 Program
- Scott Wang, Alliance for Gun Responsibility Board Member
- K.L. Shannon, Community Organizer
After the panel discussion, attendees joined one of four work groups:
- Gender-Based, Orientation-Based, and Domestic Gun Violence, facilitated by Tracee Parker from the Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence
- Working with Institutional Mistrust in Gun Violence Prevention, facilitated by Marcus Stubblefield from the Office of the King County Executive
- Guns and Climates of Intimidation, facilitated by Danni Askini, Executive Director, Gender Justice League
- Racial, Economic, & Cultural Isolation, facilitated by Neelam Khaki from API Chaya
Another work group session followed lunch. Participants were invited to join another one of four work groups:
- Public Health Solutions, facilitated by Dr. Tony Gomez from Public Health Seattle & King County
- Legislative Track & State Agencies Track, facilitated by Richard de Sam Lazaro from the Office of Senator Patty Murray
- Counties and Cities Track, facilitated by Brianna Thomas, Office of Council Member Lorena Gonzalez
- Community Program Work Track, facilitated by Pamela Banks, Urban League of Greater Seattle
- Building Political Will Within Communities, facilitated by K.L. Shannon, Community Organizer
This issue continues to be a priority for the Alliance and a second summit was held in 2019 to further the conversation.