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Racism takes hold in Edmonds | Our View


Last updated 7/16/2020 at 11:17am

In his year as student representative, Zach Bauder has remained mostly silent at Edmonds City Council meetings when he and councilmembers are asked to speak – or not – on anything that may be on their minds.

On Tuesday, Bauder – who attended Lakeside High School but lives in Edmonds – ended his silence with a six-minute diatribe that denounced Black Lives Matter and called white racism a lie.

“I’ve got a bit of comment for tonight,” he said, adding that, “I am one who has always hated lies.”

For example, Bauder – a young white man, said the following:

• There’s just one main lie. And that lie goes by the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter.’”

• ”At large, there’s a lie about police brutality. Everytime an unarmed Black person is shot, the news media continues this rhetoric.”

• ”More troubling is the lie of white racism. That somehow white people are incapable of being anything but white devils. That we are inherently bad. The truth is, there are some people in this world that hate white people. They try to justify their hatred through phony intellectualism and fake sentences about our oppressive culture that is inherent within us.”

We won’t go into anymore of Bauder’s comments, which you can hear for yourself on the City’s website, where all council meetings are filmed and available for public viewing.

After Bauder spoke, Councilmember Luke Distelhorst appeared so distraught that he called for a five-minute break before proceeding with the next part of the meeting.

What’s distressing about this incident is that a young white man like Bauder can be so blind to the fact that white racism does indeed exist, that it is ingrained and systemic. There can be no argument about this.

The Beacon considered if we wanted to bring Bauder’s comments to light – the internet lives forever and he is just starting out in life – but considered it for just a minute.

It’s obvious that the student representative had no fear of exposing his thoughts, which appeared to be straight out of a Proud Boys manifesto or from other far-right, neo-fascist hate groups.

He wanted publicity, and he’s getting it.

Bauder’s comments were just one part of a meeting that, although it included some important City matters, overwhelmingly focused on racism.

During public comments, Alicia Crank – a Black woman who has run for City Council twice – urged all councilmembers to speak out against racism. Another speaker, Heather Damron, mentioned that councilmembers earlier this year passed on naming people of color to a vacant position.

Six councilmembers did speak out, and Mayor Mike Nelson held up a Black Lives Matter sign at the conclusion of the Zoom meeting.

But Councilmember Kristiana Johnson – who two councilmembers accused of racism earlier this month for comments she made during a council meeting – took a different view. She spoke about the defacement that same day of the “I Can’t Breathe” installation on the fence opposite the Edmonds police station, a piece of art created by an 18-year-old Edmonds-Woodway High School graduate.

“I’m opposed to any destruction of art,” she said, “whether it’s in the city of Edmonds or on the East Coast, where they are taking down statues because they are found offensive.” It was an obvious reference to the removal of Confederate statues.

She added that, “I think art is meant to be thoughtful. Sometimes it’s provocative, but let’s save the art and preserve it from destruction.”

Even if that is what Johnson believes, to ignore the pain caused by long-standing monuments to the Confederacy at a time of off-the-charts racial tension here and worldwide, was a shockingly tone-deaf statement from an elected official who last year ran for mayor.

Racism – and racists – are alive and well in Edmonds. Whether it comes out of the mouth of babes, from social media trolls, from a paintbrush, or from an elected official, age is no impediment.

We must do better, Edmonds.


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