Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Resolution supporting the immediate release of Barry Massey and opposition to the imposition of life without the possibility of parole sentences for juveniles.

Whereas the NAACP has passed a national resolution which opposes life without the possibility of parole sentences for juveniles;

Whereas it has been long recognized that many children have not yet developed to the degree that they fully understand the consequences for their actions. (example: we don’t give licenses to those under sixteen and we don’t grant children under the age of 18 the right to vote) ;

Whereas Barry Massey was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole at the tender age of thirteen;

Whereas Barry Massey has served twenty three years in prison and has had very few infractions;

Whereas Barry Massey has worked hard to be a positive influence while in prison through joining the Black Prisoners Caucus and speaking to community youth;

Whereas many community members, social justice advocates and others familiar with Barry Massey and the prison system spoke out on behalf of Barry Massed during his clemency hearing;

Whereas the clemency board of the State of Washington voted 4 to 1 to approve the clemency petition of Barry Massey;

Whereas the Governor of the State of Washington rejected Barry Massey’s petition for clemency approximately two years ago;

Whereas Barry Massey is prepared to be a positive contributing member of the public

Therefore, be it resolved that the AOW State Conference and the individual branches work toward the release of Barry Massey from the Washington State Prison System;

Therefore, be it further resolved that the President of the AOW, Legal Redress for the AOW and the President or representative from the Tacoma Branch meet with the governor of Washington State to request release of Barry Massey from prison;

Therefore, be it further resolved that a letter be written on behalf of the AOW state conference requesting that the Governor of the State of Washington grant clemency to Barry Massey;

Therefore, be it further resolved that the AOW make it’s position in reference to Barry Massey known to the general public;

Therefore, be it further resolved that the AOW work with other groups that are in support of release of Barry Massey and the elimination of life without the possibility of parole sentences for juveniles that have been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


From Hilary O. Shelton, Director of Washington Bureau NAACP


Too many Americans today are straining under the burden of two related trends: shrinking health care coverage and rising health care costs. Over the last decade, millions of Americans have found themselves uninsured, and millions more have become under-insured as the value of their coverage has declined. In the years 2008-2010, it is estimated that approximately 6,000 people a day, or almost 7 million Americans total, will lose their health insurance. At the same time, health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs have risen steadily, and the number of families who are facing high health care costs continue to grow. In fact, nearly one in four non-elderly Americans are in families that will spend more than 10% of their pre-tax dollars on health care in 2009, and the vast majority of them (more than 82%) have health care insurance. Furthermore, in the United States today the color of your skin, your ethnic background and where you live can not only influence your health care access and quality; they can determine them. And while medical science has made a lot of advances over the last 10 years, the gains made by discovery of new drugs and treatment have not passed on to all segments of our population.

Health care reform is currently moving through Congress, and the NAACP is working hard to ensure that the final product has the following four elements: (1) full health care coverage that is affordable to every individual, family and business which also provides coverage for pre-existing conditions; (2) Standard, comprehensive health care benefits that meet everyone's needs from preventitive to chronic care; (3) The choice of a private or public health care plan, which includes a new public health care plan that will provide a guaranteed backup which will always be there to ensure quality, affordable health care coverage no matter what; and (4) Equity in health care access, treatment, research, and resources to people and communities of color and stronger health services in low income communities.


To send an email go to www.senate.gov; click "find your senators" look up your senators by state; go to their websites for email addresses

To Send an email to your Representative, go to www.house.gov and click on "write your representative.

To call your Senators and Representative call (202) 224-3121

Monday, September 7, 2009

African American Juvenile Probation Officer Found Not Guilty of Assaulting Seattle Police Officer

Yvette Gaston, a King County Juvenile Probation Counselor who has dedicated the past twelve years of her life to helping troubled children was found not guilty of obstructing Justice and assault of a police officer. In September of last year, Yvette Gaston secured a clothing voucher through her job so that she could help a child on her case load get school clothes. After securing the voucher she met the young man in downtown Seattle at Sears. After she got school clothes for the young man, she dropped him off on 23rd and Jackson. 23rd and Jackson is an area traditionally known as the Central District (CD). The CD has traditionally been the community of color in Seattle. It has long been known as a refuge for African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and Asian populations.

Shortly after dropping the young man off, he was approached by police officers who accused him of stealing his school clothes, throwing rocks and jaywalking. The young man called the one person who could vouch for his whereabouts and the fact that he had legally obtained the clothing.....his probation counselor. After the young man reached Yvette Gaston, he handed the phone to one of the officers. Yvette attempted to explain and reason with the officer over the phone. To her surprise she was met with an angry and aggressive tone. The officer told her that the young man was being "lippy" and that he was going to show him how we "operate things in the CD."

The statements of the officer caused Gaston great concern. In recent years there has been a great deal of concern about police misconduct and racial profiling in Seattle. She made the courageous decision to go back to 23rd and Jackson and bear witness to the "incident." Upon arrival, she saw that the young man had been handcuffed and placed in the back of a squad car. (witnesses would later say that the officers had handled the young man in a very rough and unnecessary manner). Yvette approached the officers, showed them her badge and asked if they were really arresting this young man for jaywalking. An officer quickly approached Gaston and accused her of assaulting a police officer. She was so disturbed with the officers actions that she eventually called 911 herself. The Sargent on the scene eventually took the phone from her and essentially instructed the officer to disregard the call.

Shortly after bringing this issue forward through the NAACP, Gaston was charged with assault and an obstruction allegation was later added. The Law Office of Joe St. Laurent and James Bible handled Gaston's case. After nearly 12 months and several pre trial hearings, the case was ready for trial. A jury quickly found Gaston not guilty. While the jury has exonerated Gaston of all charges, she still has many emotional scars that are a direct result of the way in which she was treated by the police.

We can't help but wonder what things would have been like if Gaston was simply a concerned citizen who was interested in protecting the rights of a young man instead of a probation counselor. Would the Jury have sided with her even then?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2nd Annual Seattle King County African American Legislative Day

The Seattle Martin Luther King Jr. County NAACP is proud to bring to the community the second annual Seattle King County Afri-can American Legislative Day. Our mission is to provide African Americans with information about local politics and give access to our political officials. This event has the ability to unify our community around common interests and provide our children with positive examples. It is time for us to recognize our ability to positively impact our great city and county. We urge the community to join with us in em-bracing this movement!


Meet with city and county elected officials
Attend workshops to help understand and participate in the city and county legislative process
Learn how to access and impact the city/county budget
Participate in hearings on the most significant issues confronting the African American community
Exercise your right by registering to vote
Garfield Community Center

23rd & Cherry
Date: 06/27/09
Time: 11:30am—4pm

Friday, May 8, 2009

Governor Commutes Gerald Hankerson's Sentence

At the tender age of eighteen, Gerald Hankerson was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole by a judge in the State of Washington. After twenty two years of incarceration, the Seattle King County NAACP is thrilled to announce that Christine Gregoire, the governor of Washington State, has commuted Gerald's sentence. Gerald is now a free man. Gerald's release was a direct result of a community effort that was spearheaded by the Seattle King County NAACP, the churches and other social justice advocates. We will be posting more about Gerald's remarkable story on Saturday May 9th.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Quality public education is fundamental to a society that values equal opportunity for all people. It has long been known as the great equalizer. Whether you are poor, a minority or speak English as a second language our public school systems are intended to create opportunities that level the playing field. It is unfortunate that the Seattle School District has forgotten the importance of providing quality education for all.

On January 29, 2009, the Seattle School Board approved the Superintendent's proposal to close five schools that disproportionately serve students of color and students with learning disability. It is estimated that of the 1800 children directly impacted by school closure over 1500 of them are minority, many speak English as a second language and many have learning disabilities. Four of the five schools slated for closure are between 99 percent and 70 percent minority. The fifth school is 50.2 percent minority. It is also notable that these schools also served a disproportionate number of students in poverty. During economic hard times public schools should not be balancing the budget on the backs of those that are poor and minority.

The Seattle School Board and its superintendent claim that we are facing a 24 million dollar budget deficit and that these school were under enrolled and ineffective. If you were to analyze the Seattle School Districts Budget a little closer you would find that the District has a 30 million dollar rainy day fund. In addition to having money in reserve, it is important that the Seattle School District develop more creative strategies to address any perceived budget crisis. How about cutting administration. It is increasingly apparent that the largest increase in expenditures in the Seattle School District are linked to administrators that do not directly serve children. In deed, our own school superintendent makes over 260,000 thousand dollars per year and took a 10 percent pay increase during a period in which it is likely that she was preparing to close schools. Is this a reasonable allocation of resources? Is this how our school district squanders money? Perhaps the administration should move from lush John Stanford Building and operate out of one of the many schools that they closed just a couple of years ago. This would likely serve to save a significant amount of money and would have less of an impact on children.

We have an opportunity to build a school district that has smaller school and class sizes. We should seize this opportunity to do better by our children instead of seeking to eliminate opportunity for disenfranchised populations. The Schools that are now slated for closure were doing as well at educating children of color and the poor as any other schools. Instead of closing these schools we need to provide greater support.