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Murray's Executive Order A 'Christmas List' Of Racial Equity Requests

Flickr Photo/Mayor Ed Murray (CC-BY-NC-ND)
Ed Murray signed an racial equity executive order on Thursday, April 3, to a chorus of applause.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed an executive order Thursday to expand the Race and Social Justice Initiative program.

The new order is intended to hold the city accountable after a survey commissioned by the city found that around 90 percent of residents say the city continues to have racial problems.

Murray said if department heads fail to make progress on civil rights, he’ll replace them.

Patricia Lally, who heads Seattle’s office of civil rights, said she remembers the day Murray asked her what he should put in a new executive order concerning racial equity.

“If you can imagine, that’s like asking someone to write their Christmas list,” Lally said. “We went into overdrive. We thought of all the things we want to do, but haven’t done yet. And to our absolute amazement, the mayor accepted all of our recommendations.”

There was much applause as the mayor signed the executive order at Centro de la Raza.

After the signing, local activists like Roslyn Kagy gathered with city staff to talk about next steps. Kagy is a youth organizer with an group called Soar. She said she’s not sure the youth she works with will see the results of the mayor’s executive order.

“What the young people are saying is no one cares about immigrants, no one cares about undocumented people, no one cares about young people of color,” Kagy said. “So no matter what schools or institutions are doing in their policy – we really have to see how that trickles down and how people are feeling that on the streets and in our neighborhoods and in our communities.”

Murray’s staff is developing tools to measure progress, which are expected to be ready this fall.