Letter to Forks City Council

Dear City Council,

I want to start by introducing myself.

My name is Sasha Folkner, wife of Officer Folkner, mom, foster mom, homeschool tutor, earner of a degree in Human Services and Friend. I am one of four who worked hard to organize the Peaceful Protest on Sunday, June 7, 2020. I want you to know we have been working on that event for over a week and it was not in response to the events transpiring on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. We created this protest to inspire some unity in a heartbroken and divided community. We wanted to start a conversation addressing what divides us and acknowledge what unites.

I know our Mayor Tim Fletcher joined us for part of the day and I want to say thank you again. I want to assume all the best things; that you love our community. That you disagree with racism. That you want to see people growing and learning and acknowledging that there is some work to be done to mend relations. I want to say I admire your courage to show up. There have been rumors all week that there would be violence, there would be out-of-towners inciting aggression, etc. I will say as organizers we all showed up with a strong understanding of potential issues and we met for breakfast and created a plan for what we could control, our actions and responses. We decided what our actions could be in the face of difficult circumstances. What we witnessed on Sunday is still moving me to tears as I write this on Monday morning. I still have goosebumps as I recall the stories I heard.

One reason for this letter is to tell you my role in mitigating aggression during the protest and what I experienced. Everyone who came with a sign that did not align with our message I approached them and started a conversation. We witnessed three groups of people who believed differently. We met some young people from Port Angeles who believe that we should Defund Police – this not our message – our message is to work together with police and to see them as people to admire and support. We hope there is a system to quickly and effectively remove officers who cannot uphold the highest of standards, but we recognize Police are a necessary and wonderful asset to our community. We met a group of “Abolitionists” who believe the entire police institution is in need of tearing down and prisons should not exist, etc. We do not believe this is an effective solution to crime and would cause a myriad of other issues that I could not begin to explain in this letter. I also met the Deputy Mayor of Port Angeles who is beyond angry with our town. She wants to hear from our Mayor in response to Wednesday and used an inflammatory sign to get his attention.

These were hard conversations – some of these people hated my husband simply for wearing the uniform. Do you know what I took away from each and everyone of these people? They are hurting. They are angry. They are wanting leadership and direction that is positive. They want accountability. I am asking each and every one of you to please spend some time acknowledging that you have a voice as our city council. You have voluntarily put yourselves in the position to represent our town, to change policies, manage budgets and address issues. As much as the outside world needs to hear from you – we, the town, need to hear from you.

We need to know that you will call out wrong as wrong whether from community members or police or within the confines of council. I’m not saying we need to call out people as bad humans – I’m saying we need to call out bad actions for what they are and I believe that is what I heard from the Deputy Mayor of Port Angeles as well. So many people are looking daily for words to bolster their resolve, to know that bad actions will not be swept away in hopes that everyone will forget and just visit our beautiful town anyways.

They want to hear “how” they will be safe, not just the words you will be safe. Thankfully, no one was physically injured Wednesday, but terror and fear can deeply root and influence our actions. I believe actions on Wednesday were rooted in fear of the unknown and a deep belief in the protection of “our own” but these actions further perpetuated fear and now the fear has spread.

Changing the world starts with one person at a time deciding they will do better; they will choose better.

Sasha Folkner