OLYMPIA, Wash.-Today, the Black Members Caucus released this statement after the State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, announced his charging decision in the death of Tacoma resident Manny Ellis.
For the Ellis family and communities of color, hearing and seeing Manny cry “I can’t breathe” while fighting for his life is traumatic. Just as you are, we are exhausted and stressed from seeing countless people that look like us killed by those who took an oath to protect and serve our communities. With Attorney General Ferguson’s decision to pursue charges against the officers involved in Manny Ellis’ death; we have moved towards some accountability for the Ellis family here in Washington State.
While today’s announcement moves us forward to ensure our law enforcement is held responsible for reckless and fatal decision-making, we – as a state and nation – must continue our work to end police brutality because no family should have this loss. For over a year, the people of Washington have used their first amendment rights to raise their voices, take to the streets, and demand government accountability and action. To push for comprehensive change for their Black and Brown neighbors, and they will continue pushing for change until all levels of government guarantee justice and equity for all.
Last week, Governor Inslee signed a historic legislation package; which starts our work for police accountability. These laws include our local police departments practicing safe de-escalation, limits officer use of dangerous tactics, and expands independent investigations when deadly force occurs. For generations, Black, Indigenous, and communities of color in our country have carried the trauma from seeing their family members, friends, and neighbors die at the hands of law enforcement. We understand these laws will not solve our problems overnight. We know laws are only as strong as their use and enforcement. Despite our victories in the 2021 Legislative Session, we know the work is far from over. We all must work together to build trust, transparency, and transformation in our policing systems.
Even though our justice system took the right step today, we understand this does not guarantee justice yet. We encourage our communities to continue using their voice to demand change and action. We must stay vigilant and not let up to ensure that the Ellis Family receives equitable justice for Manny. We hope as we continue this work, this start brings some healing to our communities.