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Bellingham Racial Justice Forum

Published: June 26, 2020


After a large turnout and a glitch in the Zoom process for expanding meeting capacity, an online public forum on racial justice for Whatcom County has been rescheduled for 7-9 p.m. July 1. The forum began Wednesday but had to be canceled a few minutes after it started. The organizers, the Racial Justice Working Group of Bellingham Friends Meeting (Quakers), were heartened by the turnout, and dismayed that a technical problem forced them to reschedule.

“We want to thank all the people who joined the call and everyone who was unable to get on,” said Virginia Herrick, recording clerk of Bellingham Friends Meeting. “It was wonderful to see how many people want to work on nurturing racial justice here. We also appreciate the many messages of sympathy and support we have received.” Because the number of people on the call reached Zoom’s limit before all the panelists got online, the group had no choice but to cancel. So many people were trying to get in at once, two of the panelists were shut out. The capacity for the new meeting has been increased to one thousand.

Bellingham Quakers organized the forum in response to the demonstrations sweeping the country and our local communities, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. The newly scheduled meeting will have the same link and meeting number as the first one: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89368508587. The meeting number is 893 6850 8587. People are encouraged to join the call around 6:45 p.m. It will be recorded and posted online afterwards, so anyone who misses the live event can watch it. A link for the recording will be posted at https://bellinghamfriends.org/ as soon as possible after the forum.

The forum features five panelists: County Executive Satpal Sidhu; Rosalinda Guillén of Community to Community, an organization that advocates for food security and immigrant rights; Bellingham Deputy Police Chief Flo Simon; Shirley Williams, a member and resident of Lummi Nation; and professional singer Jonathan Randolph, an attender at the Friends Meeting who moved to Bellingham recently from Maryland. The moderator of the event will be J. Lee Cook of the Racial Justice Working Group. The event will include a time for panelist presentations and responses, followed by an open chat window for audience members to make comments and ask questions. Participants who are not panelists should expect their mics and webcams to stay off during the meeting.

The goal of the Racial Justice Working Group is to invite a creative, collaborative discussion about policing reform, community priorities, and how to nurture racial justice in this historic moment.  Quakers traditionally practice deep listening. Brief pauses for silent reflection are part of the planned forum. Friends hope this forum will be the first of many public opportunities for dialogue to promote peacemaking and fairness throughout Whatcom County. 

from Mary Hansen, Bellingham Friends Meeting (to be 7/1/2020)