Murray: ‘To the African American men in Seattle — Your city hears you and your city loves you’

Mayor Murray on the decision in Ferguson

Following the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri last night, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray held a press conference with community leaders. Here are his remarks as prepared:

“I have said many times as Mayor that I believe race remains our greatest challenge as a nation and as a community.

Today, we as a nation and as a community confront this challenge painfully and profoundly.

After the tragic police shooting of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson this past summer, President Obama described a “gulf of mistrust” that exists between law enforcement and our communities – and particularly our communities of color.

As they learn of today’s grand jury decision in Ferguson, many in the African American community in Seattle and across the country are bound to feel that justice has not been served, and experience tremendous hurt as a result.

For many in the African American community, this decision will likely replicate the pain caused by the tragic shooting itself, and underscore this gulf of mistrust, which, if left unattended, will only divide us as one community.

Many outside the African American community stand today in solidarity with the African American community through this time of anguish and anger and alienation, including me, members of Council and community leaders of this city.

We cannot let this gulf of mistrust divide us, and we will not let this gulf of mistrust divide us.

Seattle is not Ferguson – a town that is predominantly African American but only has three African American officers on its 53-member police force.

Our city is committed to the goals of racial and social justice in all aspects of our cultural, social and economic lives. This is a core value of Seattle, and we should be proud of this.

But, of course, Seattle is far from perfect.

Racial disparities persist, having been built – here and everywhere throughout this country – upon a legacy of decades and decades of institutional bias.

These disparities are very real, and our communities of color bear daily these burdens – and our young African American in particular.

And that’s the deep, unacceptable truth that Ferguson reveals about us a society: We are failing our young African American men.

Too often we are sending them to prison instead of college. Too often they are dying young instead living long lives of fulfillment.

And while I cannot pretend to know the individual experiences of young African American men, I do know that we in this city must be united in how we address these experiences.

My message to the young African American men in Seattle today is this:

While we do not have the answers today, we in this city are listening to you.

Your city hears you. And your city loves you.

In this hour of pain, your city is absolutely committed to moving forward with you, together, towards greater peace and greater justice.

My message today to all Seattle residents is to ask that we all reach out to our neighbors – across racial and cultural lines in particular – commit to a promise of making our city a better place.

And I echo President Obama’s words from over the weekend: ‘This is a country that allows everybody to express their views. But using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to the rule of law and contrary to who we are.'”

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Mayor’s Office circulates draft medical marijuana ordinance

After extensive conversations with medical marijuana dispensaries, patient advocates, health care providers and community interests, Mayor Ed Murray’s Office of Policy and Innovation has drafted a proposed ordinance that would govern the production and sale of medical marijuana products in the City of Seattle.

“We want to strike the balance of protecting patients, ensuring access to medical marijuana and responding to concerns about the location and density of dispensaries,” said Murray. “We know the state legislature will be considering bills this session, but in the absence of a state framework, Seattle must act.”

The state Liquor Control Board (LCB) regulates the production and sale of recreational marijuana, but there are not similar regulations for medical marijuana. Even if the legislature addresses the disparity in the 2015 legislative session, a new system regulating medical marijuana is unlikely to be in place until 2016.

Councilmember Nick Licata, who spoke at last week’s Medical Marijuana Symposium added, “I look forward to reviewing the Mayor’s proposed ordinance and working with patients, industry representatives, and community members to pass legislation that addresses concerns being addressed to my office.”

Dispensaries and patients continue to express concerns that without a more solid regulatory framework, the city’s medical marijuana patients and providers remain at risk for stepped-up federal law enforcement.

In the draft ordinance announced today, the Mayor’s Office is proposing a regulatory license for medical marijuana collective gardens and processors. The license requires a criminal background check for operators. Collective gardens would be required to validate authorizations for medical marijuana with the issuing health care provider. The license also requires testing of marijuana for THC levels, molds, pesticides and other impurities.

The ordinance would require dispensaries to be 500 feet from child care centers, schools, parks and similar facilities. To avoid concentration of dispensaries, collective gardens with storefronts must also be 1000 feet from other storefront collective gardens.

Only collective gardens with storefront locations would be allowed to offer delivery services to qualifying patients. To protect unintended use by juveniles, marijuana edibles would face packaging restrictions that prevent the use of cartoon characters or mimic known brands.

Collective gardens with a limited membership and no storefront would also be subject to the regulatory license. These operations, however, would not be subject to the same zoning or testing requirements as collective gardens with storefronts.

All recreational marijuana businesses licensed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board would be required to obtain a regulatory license. However, no new regulations will pertain to these operations as they are already highly regulated.

Penalties for violations of the ordinance could include license suspension or revocation, and fines from $500 to $2000 for repeat violations within a one year period. Distributing marijuana to minors and adults without valid authorization would incur heavy civil penalties. In addition, there will be penalties for operating as a collective garden or processor without a regulatory license.

“The City of Seattle has always been forward-looking on this issue. I applaud the city on its efforts and this proposed ordinance is definitely step in the right direction — a step towards regulation,” said John Davis of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics.

Mayor Ed Murray has directed his staff to continue to reach out to community interests to refine this draft in the coming days. Written comments can be submitted at

Murray intends to send a proposed ordinance to the City Council by the end of the year.

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Mayor Murray: We will come together to give voice to what we carry in our hearts

The nation awaits news from Ferguson. When the announcement comes, we will come together to give voice to what we carry in our hearts.

Michael Brown’s death and the unrest that followed speaks to the biggest challenge of our times — our ongoing national struggle against racism and discrimination.

President Obama said it best: “This is a country that allows everybody to express their views. But using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to the rule of law and contrary to who we are.”

Here in Seattle, we have convened a series of conversations with faith and community leaders across the city. I’ve talked to African American leaders and pastors. Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Office for Civil Rights Director Patricia Lally continue to engage community groups and young people. Those conversations will continue in the days ahead.

And should people protest in the streets, our aim is to help them do so safely. Our police department did a great job last May Day. The most effective piece of public safety equipment they used were their bicycles. We are not a militarized police department.

To improve coordination across the city, we will stand up our Emergency Operations Center when we receive news from Ferguson. It’s the same thing we do for a major parade, a big game or a weather event. It helps us support public safety and maintain critical services.

I will be out in the community to join the national conversation and advance the cause of justice for all.

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Mayor Murray Pardons Tofurky and Challenges City Council to Food Drive

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Pardons Tofurky

Today Mayor Murray pardoned Braeburn the Tofurky and challenged the Seattle City Council to a food drive.

“I, Mayor Murray, pardon Braeburn the Tofurky,” the mayor proclaimed in the atrium of Seattle City Hall.

Braeburn the Tofurky will live out its natural life at the Rainier Valley Food Bank, the beneficiary of the food drive between Seattle City Council and the Mayor’s Office. Braeburn will be joined by his understudy, Honeycrisp.

The Mayor’s and City Council’s offices have until December 12, 2014 to collect non-perishable donations.  The team that collects the most food shall have doughnuts delivered by the losing team by either Mayor Murray or Council President Tim Burgess.

Braeburn and Honeycrisp were named after popular Washington State apples.


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Statement on President’s immigration announcement

Mayor Murray released the following statement tonight:

“Today we are passing a milestone on the road to justice. It’s a great day to be an American.

President Obama is advancing a righteous cause by giving millions of undocumented immigrants the right to work. We will defend the President’s actions against those who would seek to undo them.

This moment is about promises to keep, not promises kept. This is the beginning, not the end. We must protect farmworkers who labor in the field so that we may put food on our tables. We must protect the parents of Dreamers who work two or three jobs to put their kids through college. And we must work to ensure that immigrants have access to health care.

This journey will not be complete until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform. We must reunite families who have been torn apart. We must welcome all immigrants in our community who want to be a part of the fabric of American life. When we do this, we will act on our deepest values.”

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Mayor Ed Murray: Zoo is Making the Right Decision to Find a New Home for the Elephants

Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement about the Woodland Park Zoo’s decision to find a new home for the elephants:

The zoo board is making the right decision to find a new home for Woodland Park’s elephants, one with more habitat and an interesting social environment. I know this was not an easy decision for the zoo’s senior leaders and the dedicated staff who care for these animals. My concern remains that we must find the best possible facility for Chai and Bamboo, and I believe this decision is a step in the right direction.


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Seattle charts path to September launch of Preschool Program

Seattle Preschool Program implementation

Mayor Murray, joined by Councilmember Tim Burgess and Superintendent Larry Nyland, today announced the path forward for Seattle’s new voter-approved public preschool program. A blueprint for implementing the program will be delivered to the City Council by February 23rd, and the first cohort of three- and four-year-olds will enter classrooms in September.

“Voters recognized that a stronger educational system in Seattle depends on quality preschool that prepares children for success in elementary school,” said Murray. “The program we’re developing will support equity across the city and set its sights on reducing the dramatic opportunity gap between students of color and white kids that persists in Seattle schools.”

The Seattle Preschool Program will be developed using best educational practices. Research shows that age appropriate preschool leads to better outcomes in 4th grade reading and in high school graduation rates. In one study, Chicago children who attended a pre-k program were 29 percent more likely to graduate from high school than their peers who did not have quality preschool.

“This high-quality program will deliver small class sizes; play-based, research-based and age-appropriate instruction; and more support, training and compensation for preschool teachers,” said Council President Tim Burgess. “We focus on quality because only quality preschool delivers long-term results for all our littlest learners.”

A dramatic opportunity gap between white students and students of color persists in Seattle – a 30% gap in reading achievement and 36% gap in math, according to statistics released by Seattle Public Schools this week. African-American students continue to be expelled or suspended at four times the rate of white and Asian students. And Native American kids are nearly three times as likely to be enrolled in special education services.

The Seattle Preschool Program will be developed in collaboration with Seattle Public Schools. The aim is to create a smooth transition from preschool to elementary, as teachers communicate about children’s progress and needs as they transition to kindergarten.

“We look forward to working with our partners from the City of Seattle to increase access to quality preschool programs,” said Dr. Larry Nyland, Seattle Public Schools interim superintendent. “The city’s collaborative approach with the District and community is appreciated as we support school readiness with our youngest learners.”

Today, Murray named Erin Okuno, Executive Director, Southeast Seattle Education Coalition, and Kevin Washington, Chair of the Board of Directors, Thrive By Five, as co-chairs of an advisory group that will help develop the program. The group will be made up of pre-school educators, parents, K-12 and higher education representatives, labor and community leaders to be named in coming days.

Seattle residents are invited to six meetings to provide feedback on several elements of the program:

Family Engagement
Sat, Nov. 22, 2014 – 10am to 12:30pm
Langston Hughes
104 17th Ave S, Seattle
Sat, Dec. 6, 2014 – 10am to 12:30pm
4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle
Dual Language Programs
Sat, Nov. 22, 2014 – 2pm to 4:30pm
Langston Hughes
104 17th Ave S, Seattle
Teacher Training & Coaching
Sat, Dec. 6, 2014 – 2pm to 4:30pm
4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle
Teacher Pathways to Certification
Tue, Dec. 2, 2014 – 6pm to 8:30pm
New Holly
7054 32nd Ave S, Seattle
Provider Contracting & Enrollment
Wed, Dec. 10, 2014 – 3pm to 5:30pm
Phinney Center
6532 Phinney Ave N, Seattle

For more information, visit

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Hawthorne Elementary School cuts the ribbon on a new library makeover

Hawthorne Elementary School library makeover

Thanks to volunteers from the Target Corporation and The Heart of America Foundation, Seattle’s own Hawthorne Elementary School received a beautiful new library makeover today. The school’s Gloria Jean Warren Memorial Library received new furniture, new paint, 2,000 new books to line the shelves and several iPads.

Fourth and fifth graders from the school helped design the new look and were the first to enjoy all of the amenities following a ceremonial ribbon cutting with Mayor Murray, Seattle Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland and Hawthorne Elementary School Principal Sandra Scott.

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Mayor Murray announces symposium on medical marijuana, law enforcement

Medical Marijuana SymposiumRegulation of medical marijuana businesses in Seattle and in jurisdictions across the state remains an unsettled question, generating increasing fears among patients and business owners about the potential for stepped-up federal law enforcement.

The City of Seattle will hold a public symposium on Nov. 20 at City Hall for those concerned about access to safe medical marijuana and the location of marijuana-related businesses in the city.

Mayor Ed Murray has been working with community interests and the City Council on legislation to increase protections for medical marijuana patients and establish a common-sense regulatory framework to govern where and how these businesses operate in Seattle. The mayor plans to transmit a draft ordinance to the council by the end of the year.

“We are still looking to Olympia to enact broad medical marijuana reform next session, but we need to take action here in Seattle to address immediate concerns of patients, businesses and neighbors,” said Murray. “Even if the state acts, we know implementation could stretch into 2016. We don’t want patients and businesses waiting in limbo, even as they face increasing legal risks.”

Next week’s symposium will feature panel discussions on a range of issues where medical marijuana businesses face a much more uncertain regulatory landscape than recreational marijuana operations governed by the state’s Liquor Control Board, including:

  • Testing of marijuana products for purity and strength
  • Best practices for manufacturing marijuana-infused products
  • Packaging and labeling requirements
  • The location of dispensaries and collective gardens

The event will also feature a broader discussion of the disproportionate impact that marijuana criminal statutes and law enforcement have on youth and people of color.

The panels will feature patient advocates and medical providers, marijuana business representatives, testing providers, community representatives and city agency leaders. The symposium will be convened by Patricia Lally, Director of the Office of Civil Rights, who will offer introductory remarks.

The symposium will be held in the Bertha Knight Landes Room at City Hall on Thursday, Nov. 20 from 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The public are encouraged to attend and ask questions of the panelists. Those unable to attend may submit questions through the Mayor’s website:

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