52 local agencies call on officials to support election integrity

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SPOKANE, Wash. — Over two dozen organizations signed a joint letter calling on local officials to denounce far-right extremist groups, support the election process and protect marginalized communities from hate crimes.

The letter was signed by 52 organizations, and calls for five points:

  1. Rejection of white nationalism, white supremacy and vigilante patrols
  2. Keep communities of color, LGBT+ groups and religious groups safe from hate incidents
  3. Support and stand with election officials to confidence in the electoral process
  4. Take action against militia and paramilitary groups
  5. Demilitarize law enforcement when responding to protests, focus on de-escalation

“We… are coming together to prepare for a post-election response to keep our community safe and make sure everyone’s rights are respected, voices are heard, and votes are counted,” reads the letter. “We urge you to join us so that together we can make sure our region is a place that includes everyone, and protects the right of every person to live, love, work, and worship free from fear and bigotry.”

The letter comes amid criticism of President Donald Trump; with some believing the president has not strongly enough condemned white nationalist and white supremacist groups, most notably during the first presidential debate where he told members of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, to “stand back and stand by.”

RELATED: Trump to far-right extremists: ‘Stand back and stand by’

It has also been called into question whether President Trump will commit to a peaceful transition of power should he lose the election.

The letter calls on local and regional elected officials to make sure that ‘private military units,’ referring to militia groups like Proud Boys and the Three Percenters, do not threaten communities of color or other targeted groups.

These organizations also urge officials to “let white nationalists know that they are not welcome here.”

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“We are very concerned about the risk of violence, threats of violence, and escalated presence by white nationalists in our region, whatever the election results may be,” the letter continues.

Additionally, the groups call on law enforcement to ‘demilitarize’ and de-escalate when responding to protests — which includes prohibiting the use of tear gas, which they note is banned by the Geneva Convention. Spokane Community Against Racism argues that military uniforms, vehicles weapons suggest to protesters that they are enemy combatants and encourages a “warrior mindset.”

RELATED: Spokane Police deploy tear gas, rubber bullets as group turns aggressive

The letter was signed by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, Carl Maxey Center, League of Women Voters, NAACP Spokane, Peace and Justice Action League, Salish School of Spokane, Transitions, as well as several other churches, faith networks and organizations.

You can read the full letter below:

Letter to Elected Officials Calling for Election Integrity by Erin Robinson on Scribd