Call To Action:
In March 2021, a Native person was feeling suicidal and called the Bellingham Police for support. Instead, they arrested him. Stand in solidarity with Native people and all people experiencing Mental Health challenges. Email Bellingham City Prosecutor Ryan Anderson and demand he drop the charges.
Dear Ryan Anderson,
I’m a concerned community member.
I am writing you to express my concern about case #1A0329482. I was upset to learn that a Native man experiencing a mental health crisis and seeking help while he was feeling suicidal was arrested instead of receiving services.
This troubles me for the following reasons:
Structural Racism: Native folks are criminalized at a higher rate than any other ethnic group in Bellingham. BPD is 7 times more likely to use force against indigenous folks than they are against white folks. If you are Indigenous you are 19 times more likely to be tazed than your white community members, and 11 times more likely to have a K9 released on you. This racial targeting is the perpetuation of modern settler colonialism.
Criminalizing mental health crises: community members experiencing mental health challenges should receive support and treatment, not criminalization. From 2016-2019 at least 42% of police use of force incidents were mental health-related. There needs to be an unarmed community-run mental health first responder program that can handle crises instead of relying on the police.
I demand the following: Drop all the charges in this case. This person needs treatment and support, not criminalization and dehumanization. Police officers connect this Native man to mental health resources if he makes any future 911 calls. Expand mental health services to include an unarmed community-run mental health response team entirely independent of police budget and authority. Respond to these demands via email by August 1st, 2021.
Email your response to firstname.lastname@example.org