Submitted by Mayor Buxbaum for The City of Olympia
Since last Thursday’s officer involved shooting, many community members have reached out to the City Council, City Manager, and Police Chief to share their thoughts, hopes, fears, and support. We have and continue to listen.
Last night the Olympia City Council cleared its agenda so that we could hear from everyone who wished to speak at the Council’s regularly scheduled meeting. Over 160 individuals came to City Hall in a show of solidarity and concern, with an additional 50-60 people demonstrating in front of the building. In nearly 2 hours of public comment, we heard from 34 individuals.
Last Thursday, within 24 hours of the incident, several of us attended a listening session at Temple Beth Hatfiloh organized by local clergy. Nearly 200 individuals attended. They respectfully shared their perspectives and listened to each other. We have also been contacted by countless community members both in person and by email. I believe that we are all moved by the depth of concern and feelings expressed by our community the past few days.
There must and will be transparency, objectivity, and accountability in Olympia. We are challenged at this time as we wait for the investigation to conclude. It’s appropriate to emphasize that the current investigation is a criminal investigation of all parties – the two individuals, Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson, and the Olympia police officer, Ryan Donald. The outcome of that investigation is down the road. In the meantime, we must continue our dialogue and do our best to respond to all of the issues and interests that have been expressed by our citizens.
We also understand that what happened in Olympia is being automatically tied by some to the current very important national debate and concerns over race and social justice. Feelings have been heightened by incidents and reactions in other cities around the country. We believe that Olympia can and will make important contributions to this national debate. At the same time, we will and must make certain that we remain committed to focusing on the facts of our own case in our pursuit of unbiased justice here in Olympia. It is difficult, yet we must separate the deep cultural issues related to race and social justice from the criminal investigation. Removing bias and preconceptions is the path to justice.
We very much appreciate the care and concern and interest expressed by our citizens. We believe Olympia is both a strong and very special community that will learn from this current experience and grow stronger as a result.