On Monday, the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance (WaBLM) called on the United States Department of Justice to launch a civil rights investigation into the disproportionate use of excessive force against Black people and people of color by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.
Sakara Remmu, lead strategist for WaBLM, met with U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Nicholas Brown to discuss the request and other urgent matters related to the Department.
Pierce County recently released a report on use of force incidents by the Sheriff’s Department. Among its findings: Black residents experience 5.62 times as much police use of force as white residents. Native American or Alaska Native residents experience 2.31 times as much force as white residents.
According to the report, Black children—the most vulnerable in Pierce County—experience force seven to 13 times more than white children.
“It doesn’t get more clear than these numbers; the need for a new vision for justice is overdue at the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department,” said Carol Mitchell, former Senior Counsel for Justice Services at Pierce County, Founder of the Institute for Black Justice, and member of the WaBLM steering committee.
“If the DOJ digs further, they will find that Black people are arrested more often and over-represented in the Pierce County Jail and at Remann Hall. When involved in domestic conflict, Black children are not diverted to family therapy, but arrested and sent to detention. Black children are presumed to be gang-affiliated just because of their family name, and get charged with more serious crimes than their white counterparts engaged in the same behavior.
“How can residents have any faith in a department that is brutalizing young Black people? How can residents have trust for a department lead by a Sheriff facing criminal charges for false statements that nearly got an innocent Black man killed? How can residents believe in a department that’s being sued by its three highest-ranking Black employees for a history of racial discrimination and harrassement?
“The answer is, they cannot. It’s time for the Department of Justice to step in.”